UK

Families are ordered to evacuate 18 riverside homes in Newport

Families are ordered to evacuate their 18 riverside homes in Newport because old stone bridge could collapse at any moment and cut off only road to their houses

  • The bridge is close to collapse, leaving vehicles unable to reach the 18 homes 
  • The properties can still be accessed but only through a long, narrow footpath 
  • Majority have residents have moved but three are refusing to leave their homes 

Families in a street of 18 riverside houses have been evacuated to a hotel because the old stone bridge next to their homes is in danger of collapsing at any moment.

Three defiant householders are refusing to move despite the risk caused by the crumbling Victorian bridge – but others have gone to the hotel, which is 10 miles away in Cardiff. 

Engineers ordered the stone bridge over the River Ebbw in Newport, Gwent, to be closed – meaning 999 teams, fire crews and ambulances could not reach the 18 homes on Forge Mews on the riverbank in an emergency.

The only other way to and from Forge Mews is a long and winding footpath, which cars are unable to use. 

So, uniformed officials knocked on their doors urging the families to move out for their own safety after closing the Old Bassaleg Bridge next to their homes.

Engineers ordered the stone bridge over the River Ebbw in Newport, Gwent, to be closed

Retired civil servant Tony Brooks, 61, refused to leave and move his 88-year-old mother into the hotel provided

Retired civil servant Tony Brooks, 61, refused to leave and move his 88-year-old mother into the hotel provided

Council officials ‘strongly advised’ the people of Forge Mews to move after shutting the Victorian bridge to both vehicles and pedestrians.

But the emergency hotel is 10 miles away in Cardiff – and some are refusing to quit their homes.

Retired civil servant Tony Brooks, 61, said: ‘I’m speechless – I’ve never heard anything like it. We were all amazed when five council officials began knocking on our doors telling us to get out.

‘But I’m not going. I will take my chances.’

Tony is carer for his near-housebound mother Margaret, 88, and described it as a ‘non-starter’ to move her into an hotel 10 miles away.

He said: ‘They’ve been looking at the bridge for a couple of weeks. Then on Friday they told us that we should move out.

‘I think there are only three of us left her now for different reasons. It’s unbelievable really.’

The mews of houses were built in 1993 with the bridge being the only road access to their front doors.

Mother Alison Williams said: ‘It has been total chaos on this street.

Council officials 'strongly advised' the people of Forge Mews to move after shutting the Victorian bridge to both vehicles and pedestrians

Council officials ‘strongly advised’ the people of Forge Mews to move after shutting the Victorian bridge to both vehicles and pedestrians

The mews of houses were built in 1993 with the bridge being the only road access to their front doors

The mews of houses were built in 1993 with the bridge being the only road access to their front doors

‘I was told it would take weeks to sort and my neighbours were told it would take months.

‘Accommodation in Cardiff? You’re having a laugh! I work in Newport, so I’m supposed to get from Cardiff to go to work then from Newport to Cardiff to get some sleep?

‘This isn’t good for people with pets, I’ve got two kittens so I’m not going anywhere.’ 

Another said: ‘Going over the footbridge is fine for me, but I have two babies that I take around in a double buggy – how am I supposed to get that up there?

‘How can you tell me what my appropriate accommodation is when you don’t know my circumstances?’

The houses can still be accessed by foot but vehicles will be unable to get to the properties

The houses can still be accessed by foot but vehicles will be unable to get to the properties

Newport Council said remedial work will commence on the Old Bassaleg Bridge as soon as possible but it is difficult to know when it may be repaired.

A spokesman said structural reviews of the bridge say the bridge is currently unsafe and could potentially collapse under its own weight.

They have ‘strongly advised’ the residents of Forge Mews to ‘leave their homes as soon as possible.’

Newport City Council said: ‘This is a serious situation, and it is our assessment that the bridge poses too great a risk to remain open.

‘We thank the residents of Forge Mews for their co-operation and understanding.’

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