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Tower blocks residents told of collapse risk

11 August 2017 National News

Hundreds of residents have had the gas supply to their high-rise flats cut off after tests found the blocks are at risk of collapsing.

Following concerns raised by residents in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster, inspectors found cracks in the walls at Ledbury Towers, south London, left the blocks vulnerable if a gas explosion occurred.

“Strengthening” work was ordered on the estate after a gas explosion caused the partial collapse of Ronan Point, Newham, in 1968 – killing four people.

However, inspectors say this work “may not have occurred”.

Image: A Ledbury resident filled cracks in her block with tissue paper. Pic: Rainbow Collective

Southwark Council said it was “not willing to take any risks” and will move out residents in 242 flats “over the coming weeks and months”.

“We are doing all we can to provide residents with alternatives while the gas is turned off, and are working up a plan to permanently replace the gas with electric ovens, boilers etc as part of the wider works, should that be necessary,” deputy leader Stephanie Cryan said.

“We have also written to the Department of Communities and Local Government to inform them of this issue, as it may well have implications for other blocks around the country that were constructed in this way.”

The council said it initially hoped to fix the cracks while residents remained in their homes, but inspectors’ findings “means we are now planning to temporarily decant the blocks”.

Rescue workers search debris after the collapse of a complete corner of Ronan Point, a 22 storey block of flats at Canning Town in the east End of London

Image: Four people were killed in the partial collapse of Ronan Point

Alternative accommodation may need to be provided if the process to provide alternative power for the buildings takes too long, it added.

The Department for Local Government said was working with Southwark Council and “stands ready if they need any further government support”.

It added: “On such critical safety issues, we encourage local authorities and landlords to act upon the advice of experts and local fire authorities.”

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