Residents of more than 700 flats in north London’s Chalcots Estate housing blocks have spent the night in emergency accommodation after being evacuated over fire safety fears following the Grenfell Tower fire.
The evacuation occurred after news emerged that similar cladding was used on the Chalcots Estate to that which spread the deadly fire in Kensington’s Grenfell Tower earlier this month.
According to Sky News, council leader Georgia Gould said that after checking the buildings, external cladding on the blocks “was not up to the standard that we wanted and was not fire retardant” despite the insulation being safe.
Sajid Javid, the Communities and Local Government minister, told Sky News that along with the cladding problem, the local fire safety authority had found “multiple fire safety failures” including the insulation of gas pipes and missing fire doors. He added that “a review of building and safety regulations would have to be looked at.”
Gould said that evacuating the five tower blocks was a “really, really difficult decision” but needed to be done while urgent first safety work, which is due to take three to four weeks, was completed.
After evacuating all five blocks, the council announced that one of the five – a smaller tower called Blashord – didn’t need to be evacuated, and told residents they could return.
Around 100 residents were sent to spend the night on air beds at a rest centre at Swiss Cottage Library, according to the BBC, with the aim of being allocated to hotels or the homes or families and friends by council workers.
However at 1.24 a.m a spokesman for Camden Council issued a statement saying the centre was nearing capacity and the council had secured more space at the Camden Centre King’s Cross.
“So far we have secured hundreds of hotel beds for Chalcots residents,” the statement read. “We’re encouraging all residents to stay with friends and family if they can, otherwise we’ll provide accommodation…Specialist staff are on the ground to assist residents with care needs. Pets are also welcome at both rest centres and hotel accommodation.”
Georgia Gould added: “We realise that this is hugely distressing for everyone affected and we will be doing all we can, alongside the London Fire Brigade and other authorities, to support our residents at this difficult time. The Grenfell fire changes everything – we need to do everything we can to keep residents safe.”
Prime Minister Theresa May also tweeted her support:
PM: My thoughts are with residents being evacuated in Camden while their homes are made safe tonight.
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) June 23, 2017