Angry protest erupts at unsafe Bristol tower block where hundreds were evacuated

Barton House residents gathered to protest against the ‘lack of help’ they have received (Picture: London News Pictures)
Barton House residents gathered to protest against the ‘lack of help’ they have received (Picture: London News Pictures)

Hundreds of people forced out of their homes after their tower block was deemed a ‘major’ structural risk have held a protest against the ‘lack of help’ they have received.

Barton House residents gathered at Bristol City Hall this morning to accuse the council of a lack of communication following their evacuation from their homes.

Around 400 people who live there were told to pack a bag of clothes and leave on Tuesday evening without warning.

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Surveys conducted on three of the 98 flats found a risk to the structure of the block in the event of a ‘fire, explosion or large impact’.

Tenants were told to stay away to allow more investigations to be carried out, but they claim they are ‘still in the dark’ three days on.

They claim the council is yet to provide the reasoning behind the evacuation, the next steps, and the terrible conditions at the hotels they had been temporarily housed in.

Residents and members of the wider community gave their testimonies at the protest organised by Acorn, which came to a sudden end when word was given that officials were removing the possessions of residents from Barton House.

Residents have been left to stay in hotels or with friends (Picture: Yat Him Wong/Cover Images)
Residents have been left to stay in hotels or with friends (Picture: Yat Him Wong/Cover Images)

This was later confirmed as false rumours by Bristol City Council but concerned residents had already raced back to the tower block to demand answers with police being called to settle the dispute.

Shaban Ali, 36, a Barton House resident and Acorn member, said: ‘We were completely left in the dark, I didn’t have a clue.

‘The group chat started coming alive and rumours were flying all over the place about evacuations happening. There was a complete vacuum of information.

‘A lot of elderly people, a lot of vulnerable people with very young children. I have two children myself and I didn’t know where I was going to do.’

Residents received a letter over email from the council on Tuesday evening explaining that the building had been evacuated because of safety concerns.

Bristol City Council said residents would receive an update on Monday.

Residents gather after around 400 residents living in a tower block in Bristol have been evacuated from their homes due to a ???major structural fault???. The 1958-built Barton House block has recently been subject to a number of surveys to assess options for the future of the building due to its age and method of construction. The surveys undertaken to three flats out of the 98 in the block indicate that in the event of a fire, explosion or large impact, there is a risk to the structure of the block. Where: Bristol, United Kingdom When: 17 Nov 2023 Credit: Yat Him Wong/Cover Images **All usages and enquiries, please contact - +44 (0)20 3397 3000**
More than 400 residents were told to evacuate their homes three days ago (Picture: Yat Him Wong/Cover Images)

But those living in the tower block have now called for an independent investigation into the safety of buildings across Bristol.

Shaban Ali, a resident of Barton House and member of Acorn, said: ‘We have all been through hell in the last few days.

‘We have brought everyone here today to make sure that our voices are heard.

‘We are calling for an independent investigation into what happened at Barton House and the safety of tower blocks across the city.’

Acorn is also asking for residents to be rehoused locally for the same rent or less if they are unable to remain in Barton House following the conclusion of council surveys.

It said November rent should be reimbursed and paused, with residents compensated for the costs of evacuating as well as any future costs associated with moving.

? Licensed to London News Pictures; 17/11/2023; Bristol, UK. Residents of Barton House and supporters from Acorn Bristol tenants rights group hold a protest rally inside City Hall this morning. Barton House, a high-rise residential tower block in Barton Hill had a voluntary evacuation on Tuesday 14 November. A serious structural issue has been found and 400 residents including 100 children were asked to evacuate and who may now need permanent housing. Residents were asked to go to rest centres and take a bag with what they needed for a few days, while the council organise more tests on the structure of the building which was built in the late 1950s. The structural issue is being reported as to how the floors are tied to the walls of the tower block. Photo credit: Simon Chapman/LNP.
Residents are calling for an independent inquiry(Picture: Simon Chapman/LNP)

There should also be mental health support and help with childcare for residents of Barton House, the union said.

Bristol City Council said: ‘We understand rumours are circulating that officers are removing possessions from flats.

‘To clarify, we are speaking to three tenants about the need to empty their properties to conduct new surveys on the building structure that we have talked about in previous updates.

‘Those three households have kindly agreed to have their possessions put safely into storage ad this will begin shortly.

‘No possessions will be removed from other flats. If any further surveys are needed in other flats, we will contact those tenants and ask for permission.’

The council said food and drink were being provided to all residents in hotels, with transport offered for work, school and hot meals, or to return to Barton House to collect items.

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Bristol – Metro