Portsmouth families tell of their heartbreak as council says they have to leave their homes

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SHOCKED families have been left heartbroken after they were told they would have to leave their homes.

Hundreds of people living in two of Portsmouth’s biggest tower blocks woke up to the crushing blow yesterday.

Left to right, Noah Harthill-Bates, Michelle Bate, Nilson Scotti, Sibele Scotti with Sophia Scotti in the pushchair ''Picture by:  Malcolm Wells

Left to right, Noah Harthill-Bates, Michelle Bate, Nilson Scotti, Sibele Scotti with Sophia Scotti in the pushchair ''Picture by: Malcolm Wells

Teams of housing officers from Portsmouth City Council spent the day speaking to residents in Horatia House and Leamington House, Somers Town.

The council insisted tenants in all 272 flats affected will be rehoused by spring 2019.

READ MORE: Hundreds of residents told they will have to leave two Portsmouth tower blocks amid safety fears

But not all residents were convinced, fearing the city’s social housing stock was already stretched to its limit.

Cllr Gerald Vernon Jackson accompanied by (left) his assistant, advises two residents of Horatia House to go to speak to Portsmouth City Council Council Officers in the foyer

Cllr Gerald Vernon Jackson accompanied by (left) his assistant, advises two residents of Horatia House to go to speak to Portsmouth City Council Council Officers in the foyer

While other families have raised concerns they will be torn out of their community and isolated away from friends and family in new homes outside the city.

Frustrated Michelle Bates, 50, said the council had let her and everyone else in Horatia House down.

She said: ‘I’m heartbroken because this is going to cause total upheaval for our family.

‘This was meant to be our home forever, so to be told that we are now going to have to move out is incredibly frustrating.

Marjorie Gatrell with her mother Barbara Gatrell

Marjorie Gatrell with her mother Barbara Gatrell

‘I’m absolutely livid – the council has known about the risks presented by this building for some time and are only now telling us that we have to move out. There’s absolutely no plan and we’re just left in the dark.’

READ MORE: Tower block residents set to get £6,100 per household

Dad-of-three Shamsul Chowdhury feared he would be ripped away from his Bangladeshi community after council officers urged him to consider moving to Havant.

The 58-year-old, who lives in Leamington House, has been on the council’s housing list since 2001.

Shamsul Chowdhury in his flat at Leamington House

Shamsul Chowdhury in his flat at Leamington House

He said: ‘There is nothing for us in Havant. Where will my children go to school? Where is the mosque? Where is the halal chef?

‘I have lived in Somers Town a long time. I don’t want to move from this community. This is a big disruption for us.’

READ MORE: Council sets up new 24-hour security to protect residents of at-risk Portsmouth tower blocks

His wife Tamanna, 42, added: ‘We are scared.

‘We have got our children and community here. We don’t want to go.’

Sarah Gibson, 44, is a staff nurse at Queen Alexandra Hospital and has lived at Horatia House since 2005.

She was one of the first back into the flats after its last major overhaul but fears this latest refurbishment could leave her two children, aged 20 and 17, homeless.

She said: ‘I’m in shock. It’s turned my life upside down.

‘I don’t know what will happen to my children during this move.’

She added she ‘wasn’t confident’ in the council’s ability to find homes in the city for all 800 people affected.

Mum-of-two Marjorie Gatrell, 34, who lives in Horatia House was crushed by the news.

She said: ‘I feel overwhelmed. I have got anxiety and I’m trying to keep myself together.’

Horatia House resident Lemlem Muhur, 31, said: ‘I’m quite sad because I’ve lived here for nine years and this is where I have been raising my children.

‘I know some people are happy to be moving out but I can’t say I feel the same way.’

But neighbour Abdou Keita, 52, was relieved. The dad-of-four said: ‘For me this is good news,’ he said. It’s good for safety.’

Some residents have since vented their frustration towards the city’s civic leaders, with Michelle saying she hadn’t seen any politicians.

She added: ‘I really don’t think they care too much where we end up; they’ve never cared about us in the past so I doubt they’ll start now.’