Theresa May must fund repairs to '˜unsafe' tower blocks in Somers Town, city leaders demand

PRESSURE is mounting on Theresa May to pump millions of pounds of government cash into the city to fund key repairs of two unsafe tower blocks.

Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 7:57 pm
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, right, with Cllr Darren Sanders and housing director James Hill, left Picture: Tom Cotterill

Worried Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has written a letter to the PM calling on her to stump up cash to fix Horatia House and Leamington House.

READ MORE: MP’s letter to Theresa May: ‘Fund tower block repairs and ease the burden on Portsmouth taxpayers’

Labour MP Mr Morgan said the government was already ‘dragging its heels’ in dealing with Britain’s ‘housing crisis’ and said the PM could not let that happen in Portsmouth.

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Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, right, with Cllr Darren Sanders and housing director James Hill, left Picture: Tom Cotterill

His plea is being backed by Portsmouth City Council’s housing chief, Councillor Darren Sanders, who said Mrs May must act.

The news comes as the city continues to deal with the fallout of the council’s decision to move about 800 residents out of their homes amid fears the Somers Town high rises aren’t structually safe.

Mr Morgan said: ‘It’s really important the government supports people in Portsmouth to make sure they are rehoused in our city.

‘The government has been dragging its heels. We have got a crisis in housing across the country. The government is letting local authorities down.

‘We can’t let that happen here in Portsmouth.’

Repairs are predicted to cost millions and could take up to two years to complete, council insiders have suggested.

Cllr Sanders said: ‘The government is saying to councils across the country that they have to take decisive action on reducing building safety risks otherwise they will be held to account.

‘They don’t seem to be offering any money for it. So we as a Lib Dem administration want to make sure the government puts its money where its mouth is and puts safety first as we have done.’

Although there are plans in place to find new homes for all the residents by spring 2019, Cllr Sanders conceded the move ‘will have an impact’ on those already waiting for council homes in the city.

He said: ‘Yes this will have an impact on people waiting on the housing list and I’m sorry about that but we have to put residents’ safety first.

‘We do have properties that will enable other people on the waiting list to be rehoused.’

The council has managed to speak to almost all of the residents affected by the move, with only a ‘handful’ remaining, Cllr Sanders said.

The council’s director of housing, neighbourhood and building services, James Hill said the complex task of evacuating the 272 homes could begin ‘in a couple of weeks’.

Mr Morgan praised the council’s housing team for ‘going above and beyond’ in supporting residents.