Sarah Robinson House: Residents told when they can return home after 120 homes evacuated due to gas leak at Portsea tower block

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Residents who were evacuated from a council-run tower block more than a week ago due to a gas leak have been told when they can return home.

People from roughly 120 flats in Sarah Robinson House, Queen’s Road, Portsea, were made to leave the building on Wednesday, September 6. Following a period of uncertainty, they were told they would have to wait until Monday, September 18 until the building was made safe, but this date has now been brought forward.

According to Portsmouth City Council, they will be moved back in over the course of Friday, September 15 and Saturday, September 16. 20 flats will remain without a gas supply while provider SGN carries out further repairs, and those who live in them will be given the choice to stay in alternative accomodation for up to another week.

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Approximately 150 residents were evacuated from Sarah Robinson House, Queen Street.Approximately 150 residents were evacuated from Sarah Robinson House, Queen Street.
Approximately 150 residents were evacuated from Sarah Robinson House, Queen Street.

An SGN spokesperson said: "SGN has been continually monitoring gas readings inside Sarah Robinson House and can now confirm it is safe for all residents to return home. This news comes earlier than expected and is testament to the co-ordinated effort to ventilate the building.

"Engineers will remain on site throughout the weekend to continue the next stage of their work and will continue to monitor Sarah Robinson House."

Due to the disruption caused to residents, SGN will compensate each household with a £70 payment per day for each full 24-hour period they were evacuated.

And to support residents as they return home, SGN are providing the council with shopping vouchers to distribute to residents whose fridge and freezer food has been spoiled due to electricity being turned off in the building.

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Councillor Darren Sanders, cabinet member for Housing and Tackling Homelessness, said: "I want to thank all of our residents for their continued patience and understanding as we begin to see an end to this unfortunate situation.

"Resident safety is our number one priority and we're confident that we have carried out all necessary checks to make sure the flats are safe and ready to be re-occupied. The remaining residents who still don't have a gas supply have all been contacted and have talked about their options, and we thank them again for their patience and understanding at what has been a very difficult and emotional time."

In addition to SGN's work, council staff have carried out extensive safety checks in every flat, which include issuing a new gas safety certificate, taking a visual electric check, checking the water supplies in the kitchen and bathroom and ensuring that the hot water is working.

There will be staff on hand to help with the hygienic disposal of food waste and offer wellbeing support to returning residents. All residents will also receive a letter from SGN and a leaflet from the council with useful contact numbers in case of need for further support.

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The council and SGN will continue to work together to provide residents with support through this process, with staff available at the John Pounds Centre and Sarah Robinson House over the weekend.

If residents have any concerns, or need help arranging transport from their accommodation to home, they're urged to call the housing team on 023 9260 6200. You can find more information on SGN's incident page.

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