Families forced out of Ipswich flats over safety concerns told they may not be home for Christmas

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Tanya Mercer

People living on the top three floors of a tower block who were forced to leave their homes over safety issues, have been told they may not be able to return until after Christmas.

They were made to leave their homes on Tuesday 15 November after Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said it received a report that led them to conclude there was a fire-risk and parts of the building were unsafe.

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

People have since been told that while the company aims "to return residents to their homes as quickly as possible", temporary accommodation has been put in place until January 2023.

Residents Viv and Julia Sharma say they fee like hostages and have refused to leave their apartment.

Viv and Julia Sharma live in Cardinal Lofts and have refused to move out of their flat Credit: ITV News Anglia

Viv said: "We feel like packages that can be moved from place to place and there's no empathy.

"We have four kids, we can't just say we're going to be in a budget hotel, it's not right."

Some of the residents have been moved to serviced apartments, but some are still staying in a budget hotel.

One family, who did not want to be named, said two adults and two children were living altogether in one hotel room and were facing a difficult Christmas.

Other people not immediately affected by the evacuation order were also struggling with the situation.

Claire Hamblion is still living in her flat in Cardinal Lofts, Ipswich, Credit: ITV Anglia

Clare Hamblion said her home has not been affected but she now feels trapped in a worthless flat.

She said: "We don't know what the work is required to make the buildings safe enough for residents to be able to return. We don't know any time scales for when that's going to happen.

"It's scary, will it be me next, will it be that knock on the door telling me that I'm out of my home for Christmas? We just don't know," she said.

In response to the concerns the owners of the building, Grey GR, said: "Residents in two flats at Cardinal Lofts are currently staying in hotels temporarily.

"We recognise serviced apartments are a better fit and we are doing everything we can to find availability for them to move as soon as possible."

"Grey GR became aware of a specific issue which heightened fire safety risks at Cardinal Lofts on 14th November. Grey immediately raised the issue with the Fire & Rescue service," the company added.

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