Locals confused and angry over tower evacuations in Camden

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Media captionWatch: Meet Rosie, who refused to leave Taplow Tower

It would seem like a typical Saturday morning with children jumping on climbing frames outside Swiss Cottage leisure centre in north London.

But every so often, a family walks by carrying bags and suitcases, not quite sure where they will be living in the next few weeks.

Urged to evacuate the nearby tower blocks overnight, they have come to the centre after a chaotic night of mixed messages in a bid to get their questions answered.

"Why can't they stay in their flats? Where will they be moved to? And how long will it take for life to get back to normal?"

Those questions and dozens of others are being asked by the residents of 650 flats in Camden who were evacuated at short notice from their homes over fire safety concerns, following the Grenfell Tower blaze nine days earlier.

The local council says it will remove external thermal cladding from five tower blocks on the Chalcots estate - and that, after taking advice from the fire service, it had no option but to ask the residents of four of those blocks to move out temporarily.

Many occupants feel like the evacuation is an overreaction and firmly believe they could stay in their flats while the remedial work takes place.

Image caption Eileen Mulcahy says she does not want to be rehoused too far away from the estate

Laura Mulcahy, 29, is holding a sheet that confirms she has registered her grandparents, Eileen, 71, and William, 75, to be rehoused from the Dorney block.

"It's a joke," she says. "No-one knows what is going on. My grandad is still in there. They've told us to go back and get grandad. People are still in the block."

Eileen adds: "I don't want to be sent miles away. I feel like I might have a heart attack. My husband can't cope. He kept heaving all night because of the stress."

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images

Through the window of the leisure centre, staff in high visibility jackets hold mobile phones to their ears and tap away on laptops trying to book hotel rooms or any other available temporary accommodation for the residents.

Several of those evacuated from their homes at short notice had to spend the night here, sleeping on mattresses.

Some locals decided to take matters into their own hands and instead stayed with relatives rather than on a gym floor.

Image caption Giulia Mummolo says she feels unsafe in her flat ever since the Grenfell Tower blaze in North Kensington

Giulia Mummolo, 24, who lives on the 16th floor of the Taplow Tower, came back to her block to pack some belongings after staying with a friend.

She has already found herself a new place to live after making the decision to move out of her block following the Grenfell Tower blaze.

Cladding fire tests failed by 27 blocks

Residents react: 'I'm angry'

'Evacuation the right decision'

She says: "It's not very pleasant. The only thing is I wasn't feeling safe in the building. I think it's a shame that only now things are happening.

"These buildings should not be built. It's all been very confusing. We found out about the evacuation from an article. No-one called me.

"I've already found a place to live so I've just got to speed up the process. After the fire at Grenfell I didn't feel safe. On the 16th floor, what can you do?

"Even if they make the changes there's not much they can do in four weeks."

Image caption Staff wearing high visibility jackets help residents evacuated to the leisure centre

The playground remains busy with parents and children - who have had their Saturday swimming lessons cancelled at the centre - enjoying the outdoor facilities.

Every so often, a resident walks past with a suitcase after finally securing some accommodation in a B&B, vacant apartment or hotel.

But several refuse to be moved out of their tower blocks.

Rosie Turner, 27, walks out of the leisure centre carrying her nine-week-old baby, AJ, after staying the night in her 14th floor flat in Taplow Tower.

"I came home yesterday and was told I had to evacuate. I came to the centre to register and they told me I would have to stay on an air bed," she says.

"It's not right. AJ hasn't had one needle and how am I meant to sterilise his bottles?"

"I'm willing to take the risk than stay in there. They've told me to go to the Docklands but how am I supposed to get to and from there?

"I'm still in the house and I'm not going unless they put me somewhere local."

Image caption Izac Tsai says he feels in limbo after receiving conflicting messages about staying in his tower block home

Izac Tsai, 26, who lives on the fourth floor of the Dorney Tower, is waiting outside the leisure centre after being told he will receive a call once staff have found him alternative accommodation.

He says he received conflicting messages on Friday night from security guards over whether or not he could stay in his flat.

"They came knocking and advised us that we should leave but it was not forced.

"At the same time they're trying to shake responsibility. They're saying if you stay and there's an accident it's your problem, not ours.

"I'm staying in my flat until I get clear instructions about when to leave and how. I will wait around until I'm told where to go. I feel in limbo."

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