Residents of unsafe block of flats in Leamington told to spend Christmas in hotels and other accommodation
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The landlord of Christine Ledger Square, Warwick District Council (WDC), has taken the drastic action amid fears of a Grenfell-type disaster
WDC has written a letter to residents and representatives also held a meeting yesterday to notify those living in the block of the situation.
In the last year the council has had a ‘waking watch’ in place to provide fire safety cover and has discussed emergency evacuation action with more vulnerable residents should they need it.
John Brennan, a 52-year-old HGV driver who has lived there for more than 20 years, said: “I work shifts and was woken up a couple of days ago and thought there was a fire but it was two women from the council telling me I had to move out ASAP.
"We were told at the meeting the next day that some issues had recently come to light.
"They just want us to drop everything and if we want to get back into our flats we’ll need to ask for permission.
"I’ve been living here for years and now all of a sudden I’ve been told I have to drop everything and pack up.
"People have their trees and decorations up and are now being expected to sit in a B&B or hotel over Christmas.”
A woman who contacted The Courier and asked not to be named, said she had been contacted by WDC as the next of kin of her sister who is a leaseholder at the block but is currently away.
She said her sister had seen ‘wardens’ at the site in the past few months and feared there were health and safety issues.
She added: “She’s refurbished that flat in recent years and now she’s shocked and devastated she’s having to move out.”
In the letter from WDC sent to residents, the council’s head of housing Lisa Barker said: “You will have received letters from your housing team about the fire safety of your building and you will know that we have been trying to establish what the issues are.
"More recently, we have instructed specialist surveys of the building and further investigation work.
"The findings mean that the building is way below the safety standard we are prepared to accept.
"Unfortunately this means that I must ask you to move out now while we consider future options for the building.
"We are so concerned with the condition of the building that we strongly accept our immediate offer of alternative accommodation.
"I know the timing is awful, it is just before Christmas, and it is not a decision I have taken lightly.
"But it is a decision based on all the information I have about the safety of your home.
"I have absolutely no other option but to act on that information.”
WDC will cover residents’ costs of moving to alternative accommodation and the costs of living in that accomodation for as long as is necessary.