Evacuated residents of Barton House have been informed that they can return to their homes in February once fire safety work is concluded. Over 250 people were compelled to vacate the 14-storey block in November following a survey indicating structural issues with the ageing building.
Subsequent investigations revealed that the initially feared issues were not present. This development has been welcomed by some residents who have been either staying in a Holiday Inn or with family and friends since the evacuation. However, others express anger over their treatment and question the safety of Barton House.
During a confrontation with the city mayor over the tower block evacuation, Yas, a resident, told ITV News: “It’s too much stress; there are no answers – all of us are suffering.” Chantelle remarked, “You can tell us it’s as safe as possible, but what you’ve done has already traumatized people – you can’t undo that damage. You’ve ripped people out of their homes, and they expect people to just go back into it.”
Fatima, who lived in the block with her children, expressed concern: “We don’t feel safe at all; our children are worried, have trauma. Everyone has trauma and anxiety going back in there.”
Residents were informed at a meeting on Wednesday 10th January that they should be able to move back into their flats by 23 February once essential safety work is completed, including the installation of a central fire alarm system, additional fireproofing in 42 flats, and testing for Legionella bacteria.
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees stated, “The evacuation was necessary because of the evidence we had available. In today’s meeting, we had a representative from Avon Fire and Rescue, and they confirmed that the action we took was appropriate and proportionate, and we were not taking risks with residents’ lives. We didn’t want to do this; we wanted to put the safety of our residents first. We would not take a decision like that and then move people back into an unsafe building.”
Residents are expected to move back by the end of February.