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'I'm not going back until they fix everything': Residents respond to council's Barking fire report

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:03 28 October 2019

Workers at Samuel Garside House after the fire. Picture: Luke Acton.

Workers at Samuel Garside House after the fire. Picture: Luke Acton.

Luke Acton

"I'm not going back until they fix everything." That's what one Samuel Garside House resident told The Post when she read the council's report last week on June's devastating fire.

Four months on from the June 9 blaze, a public summary of the inspector's findings shows the wood balconies are still a "significant" fire risk. Problems were also found with some of the building's fire doors.

The woman owns a flat in Block D (the block next to where the fire took hold) and is now in temporary accommodation. She added: "I need to see the full report, because these nine pages don't answer the questions I have. I have more questions after this."

While some wood has been removed, much of the timber is structural, so has to stay on the building until a planning application is approved to replace the balconies. The council said it's received an application, but it doesn't have enough information to move forward.

A spokeswoman for Bellway, which built the development, said it has committed to removing all the wood balconies across the estate, but she didn't give a timeline for when this is supposed to happen. One resident said they were told it could be next spring.

A woman living with her two children in Block A, the furthest from the fire, said there's nothing in the report that would stop her living there, but she still wants the hazards fixed. She's not holding out hope though.

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"I've completely lost trust in all these [companies]," she said.

"We have had so many letters and meetings and very few of them have actually come to any action."

Lawyer Shaun Murphy is representing some of the residents affected by the fire. He said the report indicates there's still work to be done, adding: "What is required now by all agencies is a sense of urgency and resolve."

Representatives for the building's owner, Adriatic Land, have said all fire risks have been mitigated, adding in a statement: "No residents have been asked to move back in to Samuel Garside House until the building was independently assessed as safe. RMG, the appointed managing agent, has been in regular contact with residents and other stakeholders, providing comprehensive updates."

Southern Housing rents out some of the flats in Samuel Garside House, though none of its tenants were directly affected by the fire. Because of that, it's thought none of the housing association's flats were inspected by the council.

A Southern Housing spokesman said: "The safety and well-being of our residents is our first priority."

He added the association does not own the building and is not responsible for its construction nor fire safety management. The spokesman went on to say it is working with the council and the companies involved to "ensure any safety concerns are properly addressed and that our residents feel safe and secure".

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