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Chalcots Inquiry: Family fined for refusing to move back to tower blocks

Evacuation of high rise estate triggered panic attacks

05 October, 2017 — By William McLennan

A FAMILY of five who have refused to move back to a high-rise tower block that was evacuated over fire risks after the Grenfell Tower tragedy have been fined more than a £1,000 and are being taken to court by Camden Council.

The family say they cannot return to the Chalcots estate in Adelaide Road because the mother’s pre-existing mental health condition has been exacerbated by the dramatic evacuation, triggering severe panic attacks. They have refused to leave temporary accommodation in Highgate that was provided by the council while emergency work was carried out to their home, but are now facing a court-ordered eviction.

The New Journal has discovered that the Town Hall have applied for a possession order at Central London County Court. The family were first told to leave the property, which has been earmarked for another family on the council’s housing waiting list, at the end of July and have been fined £173 per week since late-August.

They have been told they can apply to switch homes, but must first return to their flat on the Chalcots estate.

Highgate Green Party councillor Sian Berry said: “Residents who understandably found the whole thing traumatic and have good reasons to not want to return to somewhere that will trigger that trauma should have the choice to move away. The vast majority of residents are eager to go back to their homes, but Camden shouldn’t be putting pressure on people that feel traumatised and don’t want to return to flats where they feel unsafe.”

A Camden Council spokesman said: “The council will do everything it can to assist tenants who have specific housing needs and have worked closely with households throughout this process and will continue to do so. Following advice from the London Fire Brigade, the council informed residents it was safe to return to the Chalcots in July, meaning the temporary accommodation is no longer needed.”

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