Refusenik residents hold firm and refuse to leave evacuation estate
06 July, 2017 — By Tom Foot
Life continues at the Chalcots for some
DOZENS of Chalcots refuseniks are defying the evacuation order and staying put in their homes, while others are planning to return to their flats before the safety works are done.
Around 100 households last night (Wednesday) remained occupied in the blocks despite repeated appeals to leave their flats during the emergency work. Residents, who said they were concerned the council could still seek court orders to temporarily evict them, have told the New Journal they are fed up with the upheaval and, their opinion, the council had caused “chaos over nothing”.
Linda Brown, who has lived in one of the towers for 12 years, said: “A lot of people living here, they’re used to just accepting what the authorities tell them. That’s the way of life for a lot of people here. All these people that are rushing out, I’m saying to them: ‘Are you crazy?’ “This has been chaos for nothing. We told them at the time about all the problems in these blocks – but it’s only now they’re doing anything about it.”
She added: “Some people are saying we ‘stayers’ are preventing the work going on but that’s not true – we’re out in the day time and not getting in the way at all.” Homes with residents who have not evacuated have had signs saying “occupied” stamped on their front doors.
Ms Brown said: “First they closed-off the Adelaide Road side, every floor is lined with security. And all the letters and mail going up to Shepherd’s Hill, in Hampstead. They put up signs on your door – saying ‘occupied’ – it’s like the Star of David. When you go in they keep pestering me what my flat number is. They’re treating us like children, but now there are lots of people who are desperate to get back in the block. People are fed up with the hotels.” There have been mixed reviews from evacuated residents moved into hotels.
One long-standing Chalcots resident, doing the gardening outside Bray yesterday, said she had been pleasantly surprised by her two week stay in a “wonderful hotel” in King’s Cross. But the woman, who did not want to be named, said she was going back to her home in Bray this weekend – after getting fed-up with dealing with council bureaucracy. “I’ve been telling everyone I was on holiday, but then the time ran out and I haven’t been able to get through to sort it out to stay,” she said. “The trouble with King’s Cross is it’s all just food, food, food. There’s no launderette. “Anyway, Chalcots must be the safest block in the country now – there’s two wardens on every floor, 24 hours.” Other residents have been less impressed with their hotel accommodation or the distance their placements are from the estate. Some are as far away as Wembley or Croydon.
Mandy Ryan returned to the estate from a flat she was offered in Haringey because she felt the offer was more dangerous than the Chalcots. She said she was “shocked and devastated” to be sent to a “filthy” flat with faulty wiring and broken windows. She has since been given a new offer after complaining. In other cases, tenants feel the different standards of hotels that have been booked has been unfair.
Robert Kukaj and Sasha Martin
Residents have been told they can book hotels charging up to £200 and claim refunds while they are away. In an online forum, set up by Chalcots residents, one resident added: “You don’t realise but there are so many expenses that you wouldn’t have at home. I have stuff like cat litter to buy – and as I can’t flush it here and got two cats I’m using a ton of the stuff at £5.95 a time.” Another woman said her two hamsters had been split up and were being looked after in different places and she had to get a cab to take supplies to both of them.
Chalcots residents Robert Kukaj and Sasha Martin have been running an unofficial advice service for their neighbours, helping to book accommodation and supporting those yet to leave.