‘Four weeks and we’re still in B&B’ say angry families evacuated from toppled Bow crane tragedy
PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 August 2020 | UPDATED: 00:50 12 August 2020
A crowdfunding appeal might soon be started to hire lawyers for families left homeless by the collapse of a 60ft crane that crashed onto their terraced homes in Bromley-by-Bow.
The families are living day-by-day in B&B at two Holiday Inn hotels without their possessions or even a change of clothes because their terraced houses in Compton Close, next to the Watts Grove building site, are still cordoned off four weeks later.
It could take till January before the toppled crane which killed an 85-year-old woman and injured four other people can be safely moved.
Tower Hamlets councillor Andrew Wood wants to start a fund to get lawyers on the case.
“These families have problems with money,” Cllr Wood told the East London Advertiser. “I have asked the council for a fundraising effort for the families impacted by the crane incident.”
Gateway Housing in Mile End, the landlords who manage Compton Close, has been given a £15,000 kitty from Swan Housing, which is responsible for the Watts Grove site where the crane toppled, to help feed and clothe the evacuated families.
But the families need expensive legal help to get their lives back on track. Lawyers have already warned them it’s too soon to establish who’s responsible for the crash on July 8 when pensioner June Harvey was killed as the crane ploughed through her roof.
One tenant, Daniel Duncan, can’t even get the tools from his house to do his job as a decorator.
“We can’t go back in until the crane has been removed,” Daniel tells you. “We have no possessions, no clothes with us. Nothing.
“All my tools are in the house, so I can’t even work.”
Daniel and his neighbours approached Gateway Housing for legal help, but were told they’re on their own.
“Gateway said we have to have our own solicitors,” Dan added. “We’ve all tried to get someone to represent us, but first they have to find whoever is liable before they can take it on. That could take years and we could lose everything.”
The families had a meeting with Gateway Housing’s financial director Lynne O’Shea last Thursday and were told it could be the New Year before they could return.
Gateway Housing, however, refused an interview when requested by the Advertiser.
Racing motorcyclist Perry Goldstein has all his possessions in the house he shares with his brother Michael.
He has been racing for 30 years all over Europe and can’t even get back to retrieve his motorbike.
“I was in the garden watching the men assemble the crane,” he recalls. “Then I heard scaffolding falling and it kept on going — then the crane. I wasn’t surprised.”
Brother Michael, 52, a London bus driver, was in the backroom overlooking building site when the crane toppled.
He said: “I saw a man at the end of the gib extension rigging up a hook. The next thing I heard scaffolding fall, which just kept on getting louder and louder, then a massive crash of metal and bricks.”
Hussain Ahmed an employment agency recruiter now out of a job himself through Covid, lived two doors along at number 4 with his 69-year-old mother Neharun until she died in December from cancer.
He’s been left to look after a sick brother who can’t get his regular online medical help because their computer is locked in the house.
The 35-year-old was in the garden tending the vegetables his mum had planted.
“Something told me to look up,” he remembers. “I was horrified to see the crane slowly coming down towards me.
“I dashed back in, shut the door, then felt the impact as the crane came crashing down. It all happened in a flash, all so quick.”
It’s not just Compton Close affected. Ben Davies has been evacuated from Ladyfern House round the corner in Gale Street. His managing agents have put him and his partner in alternative accommodation and £10 a day to manage.
He said: “We haven’t even been offered a slot to return to pick up essentials like clothes and travel documents. We are supposed to be flying off to Lithuania — rather difficult without our passports.”
It has left him and the Compton Close families angry after four weeks.
“We feel let down,” Ben added. “Other neighbours have had poor experiences with Gateway Housing. I’m definitely keen to take legal action.”
Grandmum Tracy Clachar, however, is luckier than most. She’s found a new home in Poplar through her own research.
Even so, everything she owns is in lockdown, like her car she needs for her job as a Tower Hamlets children’s early intervention worker. Her possessions are still in Compton Close from “21 years living in a wonderful community”.
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