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Editor launches campaign to support evacuated residents forced to pay rent

A regional daily has launched a campaign calling on its city council to stop the ‘disgraceful’ charging of rent to residents who have been evacuated from their tower block homes.

The Bristol Post and sister website Bristol Live have highlighted the plight of those living in Barton House who are still being asked to pay up despite the building being declared unsafe.

Monday’s print front page, pictured below, revealed how residents now faced spending Christmas in a hotel and called on Bristol City Council to re-think a stance which they describe in the headline as ‘totally unfair’.

With doubts over whether they will ever be allowed to return, one homeowner told reporter Tristan Cork: “It shows a lack of humanity, a complete lack of care.”

The Bristol Post front page.

The Bristol Post front page.

While the tenants union ACORN, who have written to every local councillor calling for a rent pause, branded it “disgraceful that residents are still being expected to pay rent for a home they are not allowed to live in.”

Senior editor at Bristol Live, Pete Gavan, launched the campaign with a post of the front page and link to online content on the social media platform ‘X’.

“Today Bristol Live launches a campaign calling on the city council to pause rent payments for the families who have been left living in hotels since Barton House’s evacuation earlier this month,” he wrote.

“Around 400 people are now living out of bags with no clear date as to when – if ever – they will be able to get back to their homes.

“Some families will have their rents covered by benefits payments, but there are still many who are left paying out of their own pockets and it’s them we’re campaigning for.

“We say it’s time for a pause. It’s the right thing to do to help those in a situation not of their own making.”

Surveys conducted at three of the 98 flats at Barton House found there is a “risk to the structure of the block” in the event of a fire, explosion or large impact.

An opinion piece revealed how some residents had told Bristol Live reporters how they only found out about the evacuation after reading the news on their website.

It read: “The residents have been through an almost unimaginable situation. Told at short notice to leave their homes, their belongings, and go. And all the while, they are still paying rent on the flat they have been told they can’t access except to gather essential items.

“It seems unfair in the extreme given the trauma the residents have been experiencing, to add on this additional burden.

“So we are calling for rent payments to be suspended until either the residents are back in Barton House or permanent alternative accommodation is found.”