Barton House: Residents face two week wait to find out if they can return to their homes

The Mayor of Bristol has admitted it will be at least two weeks before they can update Barton House residents about their future in the building. Credit: ITV West Country

The Mayor of Bristol has admitted it will be at least two weeks before they can update Barton House residents about their future in the building.

Marvin Rees said that the next round of survey results would be delivered to Bristol City Council in around two weeks' time and would indicate if residents could ever return.

More than 400 people - including around 100 children - were told to pack a bag of clothes and leave on the evening of Tuesday 14 November.

They were given less than five hours to evacuate the block of 98 flats after surveys flagged a “risk to the structure of the block”.

As of the evening of Friday 17 November, 68 households remained in a hotel, 13 were staying with friends and family and 10 remained at Barton House.

The council said they had been unable to contact three households and two had been found empty.

Marvin Rees told ITV News they would wait for the outcome of the next survey results but were currently looking into alternative accommodation for people.

Mayor Marvin Rees. Credit: ITV News

"Well, as long as we don’t get any interruptions to the work that needs to be done now we’ll get the next round of survey results in around two weeks.

"That will tell us whether people can actually move back into their house or whether Barton House is actually unsafe.

"At the same time, we are obviously looking at what we would do for that permanent accommodation if people are unable to return."

His comments came hours after hundreds of protestors gathered at City Hall demanding answers from Bristol City Council and clarity on their future.

Protestors at City Hall calling for more answers.

Tenants in the city council’s oldest high-rise were told surveys had found the building was at risk of “collapse” in the event of a fire, explosion, or large impact.

The council said the results showed the build was sufficiently different to its blueprints, including an apparent lack of structural ties between the floors and the load-bearing external walls.

There is lower fire resistance of these structural elements and less concrete cover than set out in the original plans for the floors.

Mr Rees went on to say that as soon as the authority discovered the scale of the risk, a decision was made to evacuate.

"We had the conversation with the fire service on Tuesday morning, we agreed that an evacuation was proportionate to the scale of risk we identified," he explained.

When asked about criticism of Bristol City Council's communication with Barton House residents, Mr Rees admitted "everything can be better".

"I think everything can be better, we’ve got a very difficult situation," he said. "We’ve got 400 people across 95 flats being moved out into new accommodation.

"I think there were, there are going to be some gaps in communication. But what I can say is we’ve been doing our best."

He reassured locals that, despite reports, there was "no evidence" to suggest there was a problem with any other residential blocks in the city.

He admitted that the evacuation was not ideal for residents but was necessary to avoid a "Grenfell level of risk"

"Decanting people from a whole tower block in a city is not what we want to do, and certainly not just before the holiday season.

"We do it because the evidence tells us that the building is not safe.

"In this particular situation, we found a building that the current evidence tells us is not safe then we’ve moved people out of it.

"Because if something did go wrong there would be no escape, not just the flats but the escape routes would be unavailable to people as the building collapsed on itself.

"The backdrop is the safety of the public at all costs, we’re not leaving people in a Grenfell level of risk here."