Portsmouth gas leak: Sarah Robinson House residents return to tower block after "difficult and emotional" evacuation period

All of the people evacuated from 120 flats in a Portsmouth tower block following a gas leak have now returned home.
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Roughly 150 residents of Sarah Robinson House, Queen’s Road, Portsea, were made to leave the building on Wednesday, September 6.

Most were moved back in over the course of Friday, September 15 and Saturday, September 16. 20 flats remained without a gas supply while provider SGN carried out further repairs, and those residengts were given the choice to stay in alternative accomodation for up to another week.

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Portsmouth City Council has said that the final few households at Sarah Robinson House have returned to their flats. Council staff helped people move back in – after more than a week spent away from home – by providing help with the hygienic disposal of food waste and offering wellbeing support to returning residents.

Approximately 150 residents were evacuated from Sarah Robinson House, Queen Street, following a gas leak.Approximately 150 residents were evacuated from Sarah Robinson House, Queen Street, following a gas leak.
Approximately 150 residents were evacuated from Sarah Robinson House, Queen Street, following a gas leak.

SGN has now repaired the damaged riser and gas supply has been returned to the 20 flats that continued to be without supply. This work has been carried out more quickly than expected, with affected residents told they have gas supply in their flats on the afternoon of Wednesday 20 September.

An SGN spokesperson said: “We're pleased that all affected residents of Sarah Robinson House were able to return home from Friday last week (15 September) with the support of Portsmouth City Council.

“We’ve been working to repair our riser service pipe, which supplied 20 properties in the building. Gas supplies to these properties remained off whilst our emergency work was carried out.

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“This work is now complete, and gas is now available to all affected properties.

“Once again, we’d like to thank the local community for the overwhelming support and understanding we received whilst they were evacuated from their homes.”

SGN has provided each household with a food voucher to replace fridge and freezer food that had spoiled due to electricity being turned off in the building. All residents also received a letter from SGN explaining how they would receive additional compensation, and a leaflet from the council with useful contact numbers in case of need for further support.

Councillor Darren Sanders, cabinet member for Housing and Tackling Homelessness, said: "I'm so glad that everyone is now home and safe, after a difficult and emotional time for residents. Thank you to all our residents for your patience and understanding as we made sure Sarah Robinson House was safe for you to return to. Thank you also to all the agencies and volunteers involved in supporting council teams in this response.

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"Resident's safety is our priority. We will continue to undertake the regular checks to make sure all our buildings are safe and well maintained and that everyone feels secure in their home."

Speaking the day after the incident, a Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary spokesperson said: “We were called at 9.53pm by the ambulance service following a reported gas leak at an address in Queen Street, Portsmouth.

"The fire service, council and gas board were also involved. Officers attended and assisted the other agencies with evacuating residents, before leaving the scene by 11.51pm."

If residents have any further concerns or questions they can call the Portsea housing team on 023 9260 6200.

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