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Investigation underway as apartments evacuated over fire safety concerns

Notices pinned to the boarded-up entrance of Merchants House, Little Germany <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
Notices pinned to the boarded-up entrance of Merchants House, Little Germany (Image: Newsquest)

An investigation is underway after a block of apartments near Bradford city centre was evacuated over fire safety concerns.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) said an “intolerable nature of building defects” had been identified at Merchants Court in Little Germany.

A prohibition notice was served at the end of March.

In a statement, the freeholders at Merchants Court said: “The safety of our tenants is paramount and whilst this matter is being investigated, we are unable to make any further comment.”

Bradford Council confirmed the flats “did not meet fire safety standards and that they were not habitable”.

A total of 17 residents have met with the Council’s Housing Standard and Housing Options service to find alternative accommodation.

A letter from WYFRS has been pinned to an entrance of Merchants Court, warning of “urgent action required”.

Under the Environment & Safety Information Act 1988, the prohibition notice read: “The West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority is of the opinion that the risk to people in case of fire in the premises is so high that the use of the premises must be prohibited or restricted."

It added that "due to the intolerable nature of the building defects that were identified within the premises" the building's Responsible Person "made the choice to remove all tenants from the flats under their control".

"This decision was made unilaterally without exploring all available mitigating options.”

A spokesperson for Bradford Council said: “West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service took a decision on Friday April 7, that the flats did not meet fire safety standards and that they were not habitable.

“It was therefore necessary for residents to move out and be found alternative accommodation.

"Our Housing Standard and Housing Options services worked with the building’s management to find suitable accommodation for all the residents.

“Housing Options contacted all 17 residents to discuss their needs and supported them to find accommodation. Most have secured privately rented accommodation and some are staying with friends. Emergency B&B accommodation was offered to three households.”