Families left freezing on the street after bungling Islington council worker drills through gas main

Milner Square

Milner Square - Credit: Archant

Families were left on the streets for hours in almost freezing weather after a bungling council worker drilled through a gas main.

The six households had to evacuate their homes in Milner Square, Islington, at around 4pm on Thursday after a council worker ruptured the pipe whilst trying to fit new TV cables.

Chris Prescod, 31, who lives in one of the houses, said: “It was really scary. Someone was knocking at my door so hard – they broke in and I found them in my front room.

“He said we had to get out before the building exploded, so I took my three-year-old daughter out of bed and we rushed downstairs. The smell of gas was so strong I had to cover her mouth.


“It was freezing and we were outside for hours. It wasn’t nice at all.”

Most residents were back in the warm within a few hours but one – single dad Ash Youssef – is still waiting for his front door to be fixed after it was kicked down by firefighters.

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He said: “It’s been a complete shambles from start to finish. I saw the workman when I was leaving the house and he didn’t have plans or the correct tools so it’s not surprising that something like this happened. I was away, but I found out from my neighbours that my front door had been smashed in to prevent gas build up – it was left open and without locks for hours. The council promised to secure the door, but when I got back I found it had been shut with just three short screws.”

Mr Youssef then called contractors Rydon and Partners for Improvement in Islington (PfI) who manage the properties, and has been told he could face a three-week wait for a new door.

A spokesman for PfI said: “The first contact we had with Mr Youssef was on Monday and we attended within hours. We are dealing with this urgently. A temporary repair has been completed and we will fit a new door as soon as possible.”

London Fire Brigade confirmed they were called to reports of gas main ruptured by workmen and sent one fire engine and five fire fighters to the scene who evacuated the surrounding buildings.

An Islington Council spokesman said: “Digital TV cabling is being installed to council properties on Milner Square.

“A contractor punctured a gas pipe last week and we temporarily relocated a small number of residents as a safety precaution.

We’ll be following that up with the contractor to find out what happened.”