Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 15:58 UK

Death tower 'may be demolished'

By Ed Davey
BBC News, London

Woman looking at Lakanal House
The building's scars are a graphic reminder of the tragedy

The tower block where six people died in a fire may be demolished - but only if the money is available for its replacement, BBC London has learned.

Southwark Council has indicated it is considering knocking down Lakanal House in Camberwell, south London.

The council promised people living there during the 3 July fire would not be made to return against their will.

But Lakanal House residents say nobody will return to the "unsafe" building - which could be left an empty shell.

Councillor Nick Stanton, leader of Southwark Council, said: "As part of the borough's regeneration plans, the council is already planning to demolish around 4,000 homes.

"Of course we will need to consider the implications of the fire at Lakanal - but expanding the programme of demolitions would require significant funding to build replacement homes."

If Southwark Council want people to move back into that building they are mad
Maria Trindade, Lakanal House resident

Councillor Stanton said government funding restrictions were the main obstacle.

He added: "It is too early to say what will happen to Lakanal House except that no tenant who has been displaced by the fire will be made to move back against their wishes."

But former residents of the building - which Southwark Council knew to be a fire risk 10 years ago - insist "absolutely no-one" will move back in.

It raises the prospect that, if Southwark Council cannot find funds to demolish the block, it could remain an empty reminder of the tragedy.

Maria Trindade, a mother who survived the fire but lost her 26-year-old friend Dayana Francisquini, said: "I am not going back there - no way.

The building damaged by the fire
Experts were struck by the speed at which flames spread between flats

"If Southwark Council want people to move back into that building they are mad."

She continued: "Absolutely no-one will move back there. It's not safe.

"All the other tenants are saying they want to move."

Veronica Kigundu, a mother of two children now living in temporary accommodation, said: "I have children under seven and they are traumatised by the fire.

"They were there when the fire started - and saw smoke filling the corridors.

"We would like to move."

She added: "It was very scary how fast the fire spread from flat to flat. We want answers."

A report obtained by BBC London showed the council was aware in 2000 that 13 of its buildings, including Lakanal House, presented a risk of rapid fire spread.

But while Lakanal House may now be demolished, the council insists they have no plans to demolish the other 12 buildings.

That includes Marie Curie House - which is identical to Lakanal House.

'Gambling with lives'

Jason Wimpenny, who lives in Marie Curie House, said: "They should demolish it as well - but I can't see it happening.

"It should be the most important thing, over any other projects they are doing."

He continued: "People's safety should come first - you shouldn't gamble with people's lives.

"But when you look at the report from 2000 you realise that's exactly what they have been doing."

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