Locals face clear-up after tunnel collapse

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Sundridge Street residents begin the clear-up operation

Sundridge Street residents begin the clear-up operation

Residents have finally been given the green light to return to their homes following the collapse of the Dingle underground tunnel in July 2012.

The issue affected 11 households, as occupants were told that they had to evacuate because of unsafe conditions due to the tunnel issue, but they could not have envisaged that the problem would take more than 18 months to resolve.

Those whose homes were considered to be at risk were strongly advised that they should leave over concerns about the stability of the foundations.

Maria Sullivan of Sundridge Street told JMU Journalism: “We have been in limbo for the past 20 months, our lives have been on hold.”

Social worker Maria, who works for the council, and her husband Richard have had to fork out more than £5,000 since they were evacuated, spending money on furniture and other essentials.

The Sullivans’ home was uninhabitable when they were told they could move back in recently. Since then they have spent their spare time and money rebuilding not only their house but their lives too.

Maria explained how her and her husband were one of the lucky ones, as neighbours have had to deal with gas leaks and floods since they have been away.

Liverpool City Council has yet to offer financial support to the families affected by the tunnel collapse but residents live in hope.

Mrs Sullivan said: “I want a big sorry. I hope at least we will be given a decorating allowance as everything needs redecorating and we can’t afford to do all that.”

Tunnel closure in Dingle

Tunnel closure in Dingle

Local ward Councillor Hetty Wood said: “The residents have endured a very stressful and frustrating time but it means that, if they choose, they can now return to their homes.

“We’ve worked closely with them in the past 18 months, arranging for their homes to be secured, keeping them informed of developments as much as possible and brokering the deal between the parties involved which meant the complex works could be started.

“Although these are not council-owned houses and we do not have responsibility for the tunnel we believed that we should provide help and support for those people who have been through a traumatic time which was not of their making.”

But Mrs Sullivan told JMU Journalism: “I almost feel invisible, no one has been to check that we’re OK. The tunnel has been given the OK but what about our houses?”

Councillor Wood said: “We have been working with partners to provide help with issues such as clearing up back yards and gardens. We will continue to offer advice and guidance to residents to help them resettle back into their homes and into the community.”

The underground tunnel had been used by a car repair company, Roscoe Engineering. JMU Journalism attempted to contact the firm for comment but did not get a response.

About Gemma Brezinski, JMU Journalism