Cardinal Lofts tower block in Ipswich partially evacuated over fire risk

Claire Hamblin at Cardinal Lofts in Ipswich.
Credit: ITV News Anglia
Claire Hamblin lives at the block, where fifteen apartments have been evacuated. Credit: ITV News Anglia

People living on the top three floors of a tower block were forced to leave their homes late at night after fire chiefs decided it was unsafe.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said it had received a report that led them to conclude that floors seven to nine of Cardinal Lofts in Ipswich were no longer safe- despite the management company installing a new fire alarm.

Fifteen apartments were affected and people were taken to a nearby sports hall to spend the night.

Claire Hamblion, 49, who has lived in a first-floor apartment for eight years, told ITV News Anglia that she felt she was "trapped in a living nightmare".

Claire Hamblion lives on the first floor Credit: ITV News Anglia

The building has been at the centre of long-running concerns over fire safety and cladding, dating back to the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service are trying to reassuring people living on floors six and below that extra fire safety measures are in place, including a "waking watch" to help with the evacuation of residents if there was a fire.

Suffolk County Council said the management company Grey GR, alongside Ipswich Borough Council, had helped to provide temporary accommodation for those affected.

Toby Gray, area manager for the fire service, said: “Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service remains committed to ensuring the safety of Cardinal Lofts residents in the event of a fire. 

“As part of ongoing work, we have raised fire concerns and advised how the building’s management company can resolve them. 

“This mitigation has not adequately addressed the risks posed to the upper three floors of t

he property, so it is in the best interest of residents in these apartments to be temporarily rehoused as a precautionary measure. 

“We will continue to work with the management company to find a resolution. All Cardinal Lofts residents are being kept informed of progress.” 

The top three floors are affected Credit: ITV News Anglia

Residents living in the tower have spoken in the past about the crippling costs to foot the bill for remedial work for the unsafe cladding.

Alex Dickin brought a flat in Cardinal Lofts. Speaking to ITV News Anglia in 2021 he said residents were angry.

"I was 11 years old when this building behind me was constructed so how is that my fault and my financial responsibility to pay for those faults to be repaired." he said.

A damning report by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee in 2020 stated that 'residents should not bear any of the costs of remediating historical building safety defects.'

An amendment to the fire safety bill though, which would have protected leaseholders paying the costs, was rejected by MPs in 2021.

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