Council leader defends Chalcots evacuation in wake of critical report

PUBLISHED: 16:58 30 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:58 30 July 2018

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould speaking outside the Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre after residents were evacuated from the Chalcots Estate. Picture: David Mirzeoff/PA Images

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould speaking outside the Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre after residents were evacuated from the Chalcots Estate. Picture: David Mirzeoff/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

The leader of Camden Council has defended its decision to evacuate the Chalcots Estate – after an independent review criticised the lack of communication with residents, some of whom were left “extremely traumatised”.

Georgia Gould said she accepts “most of the report”, but explained that the council was acting on advice from the London Fire Brigade.

The evacuation was carried out on June 23 last year, a week after the Grenfell Tower blaze.

It was one of the largest operations of its kind in the UK since the Second World War, affecting more than 2,000 people.

At a cabinet meeting on July 25 Georgia Gould presented the council’s response to the independent review of the evacuation.

Ms Gould said: “We accept most of the report. It is an important piece of work which will inform emergency planning in Camden going forward.

“The evacuation was an incredibly difficult and chaotic process, especially given the lack of notice.

“We were aware of the enormous disruption it would cause to our residents. It was something we absolutely did not want to do, but were acting on the London Fire Brigade’s (LFB) advice.”

Author of the report, Marian Harrington, said her report was not intended to apportion blame, but to be read as a learning experience for the council.

She said: “Moving people can be really risky. A future suggestion to think about is where a risk assessment could be taken where the risks of moving people were assessed alongside the risks of staying put.

“Frail people, or those with pre-existing mental health conditions on the estate who we spoke to, were extremely traumatised by moving.”

Ms Harrington also said there is evidence that some council staff did not understand the evacuation was strictly voluntary, and failed to explain this situation consistently to residents.

Bob O’Toole, chair of the Chalcots Estate’s Burnham Tower Tenants and Residents Association (TRA) said afterwards: “I think things have been learned from what happened. I think the response from the council to the report was positive and they have already started to work on changes to the way things are done.

“As far as I am concerned the LFB’s decision was the wrong one, and the council tried to not have to make the decision to evacuate residents late on a Friday night. The media didn’t help either.”

• Pick up Thursday’s Ham&High to read one resident’s detailed account of the evacuation – and how the review “raises more questions than it answers”.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories


Police chased a Volkswagen Polo across three boroughs on Monday morning after it crashed into a patrol car at low speed.

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Crouch End inventor is crowdfunding to launch an innovative and wearable air pollution monitor inspired by his own worries as a new dad.

Friday, December 7, 2018

British Transport Police are looking to speak to a man about three women being racially abused on an underground train.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Carlton Tavern could be reopened in April, nine months after the planning inspectorate told them to rebuild it.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Coffee isn’t the only thing Deniz Korkmaz is brewing up in Kentish Town.

Friday, December 7, 2018

We chat to five local designers and artists who tell us about the one thing they must have or do at home that puts them in the Christmas mood

Friday, December 7, 2018

An application to redevelop a house in Swiss Cottage, owned by an off-shore company linked to an address in the Panama Papers and billionaire property mogul Sol Zakay, has been approved.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Two sisters from Muswell Hill were lucky enough to meet the Queen last Wednesday after playing a pivotal role in publication of a book about an adoption pioneer.


Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now