Call for answers on flats collapse

The collapsed walkway at Newby Place and (below) police and utility workers at the scene.
The collapsed walkway at Newby Place and (below) police and utility workers at the scene.
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FURIOUS Mereside residents have demanded answers from Blackpool Council after an aging balcony crashed down narrowly avoiding catastrophe.

Council tenants from Newby Place spent last night away from their homes after their flats were deemed unsafe.

Police and utility workers at the flats in Newby Place.

Police and utility workers at the flats in Newby Place.

As reported in yesterday’s Gazette, many remained badly shaken and distressed after a massive section of balcony walkway collapsed at lunchtime on Tuesday.

The twisted metal and concrete walkway remained in place behind cordons last night and structural props had been installed to support the structure of adjoining buildings.

But as residents face a waiting game to see if their homes will be condemned or repaired, they say warnings about the state of the building were ignored.

Andrew Bleasdale, 41 said: “This situation is a disgrace, it should have been obvious the building was in a poor state.

“The balconies have been tilting for ages, paint is flaking off, the paths are actually dangerous but nothing is ever done.

“Officials walk round here with clipboards.

“I actually asked about the balconies on Monday because I’d heard a rumour we might get moved out so they could be repaired but was told there were no plans.

“People could have been killed. sSmeone needs to take responsibility for the state of these buildings.”

In total 26 people were evacuated and taken either into residential homes or a hostel on Central Drive.

Access remains impossible so some tenants were given cash and vouchers to buy essentials in the meantime.

Others have even been told they will be relocated to holiday flats in central Blackpool for the next three weeks as the situation is assessed.

But feelings are still running high in the neighbouring blocks.

Resident Tony Watts, 45, said: “I’ve lost count of the number of concerns I’ve raised.

“It’s just a wild goose chase, you get passed on until you are back where you started.

“If a private landlord let their properties decay like this, the council would hammer them for it.”

Resident Stanley Hall, 79, said: “These buildings should have been knocked down a long time ago.

“We complained about the paths because they are in such a mess but all they did was patch up a little corner.

“The state of the place is a disgrace.”

The properties are under the control of Blackpool Coastal Housing which manage the upkeep of the homes on behalf on Blackpool Council.

Today Blackpool Council refused to be drawn on whether they had been given previous warnings by tenants but said a full investigation of the cause of the collapse is underway.

A spokesman said sudden and dramatic collapses were “rare and could not have been anticipated.”

But structural precautions have been taken at four similar blocks across the town and visual inspections are being undertaken by surveyors and engineers.

Coun Gillian Campbell, cabinet member for housing, said: “The unexpected collapse is being investigated by structural engineers to establish the cause.

“Our first concern has been for the residents. Fortunately no-one was hurt and everyone has been temporarily relocated and is receiving support from Blackpool Coastal Housing.

“Precautionary measures are being put in place to assess similar properties and to reassure tenants additional structural support will be provided to similar balconies.

“Tenants will be kept informed of measures as they are put in place. Once the structural engineer’s investigation is completed the council will make further comment.”

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