Five London tower blocks evacuated over cladding safety fears
Anger, frustration, confusion and fear amongst the residents of 5 London Tower blocks, evacuated almost without any notice or warning yesterday (Friday) afternoon and evening. Many of the evacuated people complained that the first that they had heard of the necessity to leave their homes, was when they saw the news reports on their televisions. The residents from the five high-rise blocks on the Chalcots estate in Swiss Cottage in Camden, were sent to leisure centres where blow up beds had been provided (but without the necessary numbers and withoit the necessary room to inflate them), while others were sent to emergeny hotel accommodation in other areas.
The "evacuation" became even more chaotic as council staff tried to assist the displaced resididents, but without clear guidance or any visible form of organisation.Many of the evacuated families complained bitterly that the situation was "shambolic" while others used stronger words to describe the events. Things seem to be little better this morning (Saturday) as council staff are organising and hiring London taxis to transport the effected families to "other areas".
Clearly, if these Tower blocks have been found to be unsafe and a fire risk exists, there is no question that the effected families must be moved to safer accommodation while remedial work is carried out. The duration of this remedial work could be weeks or even months, which suggests to me at least that, some degree of planning would be essential in order to minimise as far as may be possible, any disruption and worry for the residents, particularly pensioners and any who may be sick or disabled.
However, once again, a London council has been found wanting when it comes to the organisation of an undertaking, which by its very nature demands care and attention to detail. Residents, instructed to leave their homes with little if any warning but told to "pack everything for two to three weeks". One resident said, "I packed enough for a week. I didn't have a lot of space left, with my medication and everything. I've got to have it." adding "It's an absolute nightmare. The first I heard about it was live on Sky News. It's absolutely a shambles. They've got a massive team of people in place but nobody by the time we left had knocked on our door, I cried and cried and cried. I love my flat".
There is something very wrong with the way in which the councils in the area have organised themselves since the disaster of Wednesday 14th June. Lack of planning, lack of leadership and lack of understanding of the issues involved or of the people caught up in the tragedy and its aftermath have all played a large part in the chaotic scenes which we have seen over reent days. The evacuation was clearly necessary but was "organised" in the most shambolic fashion imaginable.