Life ‘in limbo’ for collapse drama residents

Work going on to repair the flats at Newby Place and (below) residents Paul Clarke, Stella Clarke, Margaret Simpson, Damion Milner and Andrew Bleasdale.
Work going on to repair the flats at Newby Place and (below) residents Paul Clarke, Stella Clarke, Margaret Simpson, Damion Milner and Andrew Bleasdale.
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RESIDENTS forced to flee their homes when a second floor walkway dramatically collapsed say they have been left living “in limbo”.

Nine flats were evacuated at Newby Place, Mereside, when the iron and concrete structure came crashing down two weeks ago.

Residents of Newby Place Paul Clarke, Stella Clarke, Margaret Simpson, Damion Milner and Andrew Bleasdale.

Residents of Newby Place Paul Clarke, Stella Clarke, Margaret Simpson, Damion Milner and Andrew Bleasdale.

An investigation into the cause of the collapse has now revealed a technical fault in the structure was to blame.

And after an agonising wait, Blackpool Coastal Housing, which manages the property on behalf of Blackpool Council, say it will repair, rather than demolish, the damaged flats.

But the process is expected to take months - and residents say they are becoming increasingly depressed as they face an uncertain future.

Damion Milner, 36, said: “I’ve lived in that flat for 16 years, now I’m stuck in absolute limbo.

“I’ve been told if I want to go back it could be as long as six or eight months.

“I don’t even know if I want to, I’m just disgusted with the whole thing.

“I’m left with no home and the community I’ve lived in all these years has been ripped apart.”

Andy Bleasdale, 41 had to jump to safety as the balcony collapsed under his feet as he returned from the shop.

He said: “I’ll never go back in those flats, they should be ripped down.

“I’ve been going to work but I haven’t been eating or sleeping very well.

“I worry about how the stress of this is affecting the older residents.

“They shouldn’t be separated from their pets and left without their things not knowing where they’ll be living.”

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Four residents who lived in the ground floor flats have been moved into sheltered housing at Dunsop Court, South Shore.

Others have been moved to holiday flats on Reads Avenue while some are staying with friends or relatives.

The evacuated residents were provided with a suitcase and given just 20 minutes to get basic items from their homes.

But many from Dunsop Court had to leave precious items behind.

Margaret Simpson, 74, said: “Every little noise is making me jump out of my skin now.

“We all feel down, I couldn’t even get the photographs of my son, who has died.

“I don’t know when I’ll get them, I don’t know where I’ll be living in the next few weeks and all we can do is wait.”

Paul Clarke, 61 added: “I wouldn’t step foot back in those flats.

“It’s hard not knowing where we’ll be living, these people have been our neighbours for years.

“We’ve only got three pans between the four of us, we cook together but we aren’t eating properly.

“We feel like we aren’t being told anything.”

But Brian Wood, 75, said he had paid to renovate the rental property and just wanted to return home.

He added: “I don’t want to live somewhere else, I saved £90 so I could have a new wooden floor in my flat just weeks before this happened.

“I was told my cat couldn’t stay with me here but I said if he sleeps outside, I’ll stay with him.

“I have to keep him in a cat box, I can’t do any shopping for myself, it’s all just a mess.”

Peter Jefferson, chief executive at Blackpool Coastal Housing, said work was onoing but admitted it would take months for people to return home.

He added: “The balcony will be replaced and following this structural work, residents will be able to return to their flats if they wish.

“Newby Place is a popular residential area and we understand that some are keen to return.

“We will work with the individuals on a one-on-one basis to determine whether they would prefer to return to Newby Place following the repair work, or be relocated to another property.

“The balcony repair to the affected block will take a period of around five months. Blackpool Coastal Housing will be working with residents to re-enter their flat to remove more of their possessions which have been left behind.”

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