1pm: Latest statement from City West Housing on the aftermath of the Irlam gas explosion…
"Around 9am on Thursday 4 November the first residents were able to return to their homes after the exclusion zone around Merlin Road, Irlam was reduced.
Accompanied by members of staff from City West Housing Trust, the first households returned to properties in Morillion Road for a safety and security check before their house was handed back.
City West Housing Trust informed residents they were able to speak to on Wednesday evening that the properties within the exclusion zone had been graded, following an initial assessment of the extent of the damage. Timescales have been attached for when residents are likely to be able to return.
Residents are now returning to Category 4 properties, which are those that have not suffered any damage and have been released following a thorough inspection. It is expected that 78 households will return today.
A further 72 households fall under Category 4 and will begin to return once the exclusion zone has been relaxed further. City West Housing Trust will then make contact with the residents to arrange the hand back of these properties.
Tim Doyle, Chief Executive of City West Housing Trust, said: "We are pleased that we are able to begin to return the first residents to their properties. They have been through an extremely difficult ordeal and we are working very closely with them to help with their return home. We have assigned a dedicated member of staff to work with each household as they return.
"Due to the large number of people we are helping to move back today this is going to take some time. We appreciate people will want to return to their homes as quickly as possible, but we ask residents for their patience in an understandable difficult time."
City West Housing Trust is appealing for any customers or owner occupiers who have not yet been in touch with them to contact 0300 123 5522
Homes fall into the following categories:
• Category 4 – properties deemed safe – around 160 properties
• Category 3 – minor works – returned in approximately two to three days
• Category 2 – remedial works – return within one to two weeks. Customers will be re-housed in temporary accommodation.
• Category 1 – will be re-housed. City West is working to re-house customers, with Salford City Council working to re-house owner occupiers. This affects approximately 10 properties