Evacuated residents of the Bristol tower are apprehensive about spending a dreary Christmas away from the comfort of their homes.

Residents of Barton House, the Bristol tower block that was evacuated a month ago due to safety concerns, are expressing frustration at the possibility of not being able to return home for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Most of the 400 tenants are currently staying at a city centre hotel, while others have sought refuge with relatives or friends, and a few have refused to leave.

On Friday, Jon Wisbey, a spokesperson for the tenants, stated: “I don’t think we’ll be back for Christmas. This means that many of us will be stuck here at the Holiday Inn. It looks like Christmas is going to be extremely bleak.

“People assume that being in a hotel means having room service, but it’s not like that. Personally, my flatmate and I are sharing a twin room, so it’s not too bad. However, there are people cramped in one small room with their parents, elderly relatives, and children. Cots and beds are scattered everywhere.

“The food is barely sufficient. Out of the 400 Barton House tenants, around 250 to 270 are here at the Holiday Inn. We are a close-knit community, and we usually get along well. However, when there are so many people sharing facilities and living in such close quarters, issues can arise. We have children who are bored to tears, stuck in a room with their parents. One of our tenants even said it reminds him of his time in prison. We are going stir-crazy.”

The chaotic evacuation occurred after surveys revealed that the block had not been constructed to meet the design specifications, rendering it unsafe for the past 65 years. Bristol mayor, Marvin Rees, stated that there was “a significant risk” to the structure of the block in the event of a fire, explosion, or major impact.

Rees has faced accusations of not taking residents’ concerns into account, and tensions escalated at a council meeting this week when some tenants claimed they were not permitted to ask crucial questions. These questions included when the council first became aware of the block’s issues and when the tenants would be allowed to return.

In a statement released during the meeting, the tenants expressed feeling thrust into a “dark and uncertain future where our very existence hangs in the balance”.

They added: “We are a strong and united community that has been built over 65 years. We are diverse, hailing from different backgrounds and speaking various languages. Our ages span from people in their 80s to a baby born just days before the evacuation. We come from different religions and none. We are teachers, nurses, office workers, taxi drivers, bankers, and broadcasters. We are many things, but we are friends, neighbors, and tenants of Barton House.”

The tenants acknowledged that some residents might be afraid to return but appealed for the possibility of preserving the block instead of consigning it to local history.

In its most recent public update at the beginning of December, the council stated that the necessary surveys to determine whether people could return were still ongoing. The council has a contract with the Holiday Inn, ensuring rooms will be available until the end of January. This agreement includes all meals, laundry, cleaning services, and other forms of support.

The council further stated: “The mayor intends to work with Mr. Wisbey and others and will provide a progress update to the residents soon.”

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