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Council bosses have promised that residents in three tower blocks in Westcliff will not be forced into hotels during essential maintenance work that will mean 54 families have to move out of their homes.
The complex work will take place at the Balmoral Estate and centre around structural improvements to the top floors of three tower blocks but it will mean 18 people from each tower will be asked to temporarily leave their homes.
At a Policy and Resources Scrutiny Committee meeting on Thursday night, the council ruled out any possibility of those residents being forced into hotels and promised they will be offered a refurbished property within the existing tower blocks.
Mario Ambrose, executive director of South Essex Homes, told the committee: “We have a number of void properties on the estate and those properties will be refurbished to a high standard, including heating and insulation. Residents will be decanted to those properties initially.
“One resident asked to go to sheltered accommodation at Buckingham House which is across the way from the Balmoral Estate, so we will work individually with residents to move them temporarily into other accommodation until they can move back to their flat.
“We don’t envisage anybody being moved into hotels because there is sufficient void properties.”
He added that work will be done on the three blocks, Grampian, Beacon and Blackdown, in a “staged” process rather than it happening simultaneously.
In each tower South Essex Homes will work with the residents to tailor the replacement accommodation to their needs and Mr Ambrose insisted “nobody will be put into hotels”.
The guarantee is likely to ease the concerns of residents who have hit out at the council over the improvement works, claiming they have been left with anxiety over the possibility of being forced out of their homes.
The chairman of the Balmoral Residents’ Association Terry Brown said he feared the options would have been between “living with relatives or the older residents being put into sheltered accommodation”.
Council leader Ian Gilbert said the will be “disruptive” but there is “no way for the work to be done and work around that”.
He added: “South Essex Homes is working incredibly closely with the residents to identify accommodation which is suitable and which they can move in to.”
At a cabinet meeting in July, Cllr Gilbert also reassured councillors that the three tower blocks are “entirely safe” but the work needs to be carried out after a building survey found they may not meet “all the relevant safety criteria”.