SGN ‘donates’ £0.5m to Merton to pay for displaced residents

‘Engineering difficulties’: SGN’s gas pipe repair works on Galpins Road, Thornton Heath, have taken longer than expected

A week on from the horrific blast in Thornton Heath that killed a four-year-old child, destroyed one house, damaged dozens of others, and forced 500 people from their homes, Southern Gas Networks, the company responsible for providing gas to Galpins Road, agreed to “donate” £500,000 to the local council.

SGN announced its “voluntary goodwill contribution” during a public meeting last week.

Local BBC News reported last night that SGN is paying £500,000 to Merton Council to cover some of the costs of the past week, when 500 residents on Galpins Road and nearby have been forced out of their homes, around 300 of them being provided with hotel accommodation.

Tragedy: Sahara Salman

A house on Galpins Road was completely destroyed in the blast just after 7am last Monday morning, August 8. Two people were hospitalised when recovered from the rumble, but four-year-old Sahara Salman was pronounced dead at the scene.

Residents had been reporting a strong smell of gas in the area for up to two weeks before the explosion. At least 18 calls were made to SGN reporting a gas leak.

SGN has been accused by angry locals of having “blood on its hands”.

Emergency services cordoned off the immediate area after the blast, and were forced to extend the cordon soon after because of continuing and serious concerns about gas leaks.

Some residents had hoped to return to their homes over the weekend, although this was further delayed when SGN encountered “engineering difficulties” over replacement gas pipes on Galpins Road. Residents now say that they do not know when they will be allowed back home.

On Saturday, SGN told residents it was “sorry” that work was taking longer than expected, blaming the extreme heat which had “delayed some of the operation” and the leak had still not been sealed.

SGN told BBC London it is working in Galpins Road to “disconnect” a section of its gas network. A spokesperson said: “The extreme heat over the weekend delayed some of the operation but we’re working hard to make sure that residents who were evacuated can return to their homes safely as soon as possible.”

The supplier said it was “shocked and saddened” about the death of Sahara Salman, and was supporting a specialist police investigation which had begun into explosion.

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