Vulnerable people found living in 'dangerous' industrial units
PUBLISHED: 16:57 05 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:57 05 July 2019
A number of vulnerable people have been moved to safety after dangerous living conditions were found during a multi-agency inspection.
The inspection was carried out at Boasts Industrial Estate in Ellough after concerns had been raised that some industrial units were being let for residential use by the owner and were potentially unsafe.
Officers from East Suffolk Council's Housing and Planning teams and Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service carried out the inspection on Monday, July 1, supported by Suffolk Police.
All areas of the site were inspected, with people found to be living in three units, where conditions were so unsafe that their continued occupation presented an imminent risk to life.
Council officers subsequently served Emergency Prohibition Orders to prevent their continued occupation as residences.
With residents from these properties now being supported by the council's housing needs team, some have made alternative arrangements and one person has been provided with short-term accommodation while an assessment of their longer term needs is carried out.
Richard Kerry, East Suffolk Council's cabinet member for housing, said: "Industrial units are simply not designed to be used as housing and it was essential that these people were moved to a place of safety immediately.
"These units are primarily used for car maintenance and contain highly flammable materials, welding equipment and other hazards; the dangers of these were illustrated earlier this year when a large fire damaged some of the units.
"Some of the units were without hot water or shower facilities and with inadequate heating, would be freezing during the winter.
"We are shocked to find people living in these conditions, especially as some are elderly and vulnerable.
"We will offer our utmost support to those displaced by this intervention and find them a safe and comfortable place to live.
"Anyone in need of affordable housing is encouraged to contact the council and while it can sometimes take time to find suitable accommodation, it is unacceptable for people to be living in inappropriate, unregulated and dangerous industrial units.
"This was a difficult investigation and I would like thank the officers involved, from both the council and our partner agencies."
A brigade spokesperson said: "Our protection department works closely with colleagues from police, housing, building control and planning, to help protect people who may be at risk.
"This multi-agency inspection was a good example of collaborative working, based on reliable intelligence and credible risk."
A council spokesman said a number of other units and caravans on site were also being used for residential purposes.
While conditions in these units were not acutely dangerous, follow up action will be taken by the council's planning officers to address these breaches.
The spokesman added: "In total, officers found 11 people to be living in unsatisfactory conditions in industrial accommodation or in poor quality caravans without planning consent.
"No criminal offences have been committed by the site owner however the premises will be prohibited for use as residential accommodation."