SOME 30 residents of an Oldham town centre apartment block have been told they must leave their homes after fire chiefs deemed the building unsafe.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) has served occupants of six-storey The Victory complex on Union Street with a prohibition notice which says they must leave their homes by 1pm on November 2.

The residents of private rental properties, including young children, are now facing homelessness, and a local Independent councillor is calling on Oldham Council to act.

GMFRS have acted following numerous calls to the building as a result of what residents say is a faulty fire alarm system which caused them to stop responding to it.

In a letter to the occupants, fire chiefs say "use of thee premises involves a risk so serious that use of the premises ought to be prohibited".

It goes on: "This is because there is a risk of the spread of fire on the premises which is posed by significant defects to fire doors, holes in fire resisting construction and defective fire warning and smoke ventilation system.

"In the event of fire, smoke and fire would affect the means of escape, preventing a full and safe evacuation."

The letter says that fire crews had responded to three recent alarm "actuations" and reported that residents had failed to evacuate.

"The current fire safety arrangements are inadequate and therefore, in conjunction with the defects identified, this poses a risk so serious that the use of the premises out to be prohibited," the letter says.

Angry residents, who pay £150 a month to property management company Warwick Estates for the maintenance of the building, say they have seen no evidence of any of the money they have paid being spent on maintenance.

They contacted The Oldham Times and when we visited fire extinguishers were missing from points on landings, smoke alarms appeared to be broken, a skylight in the roof was gaping open to the elements, pieces of carpet were missing from stairways, doors which should have been secure protecting utilities, including electricity, were swinging open.

One of the residents is medical doctor Fozia Malik, 45. She paid £60,000 for her property in December and is now facing homelessness.

She said: "There are families living here who will have nowhere to go. The property management company have been taking our money and doing nothing with it.

"The state of this block is appalling and it's no surprise the fire service have taken action."

Some of the 35 flats are unoccupied, but there are about 30 people living there, many renting from private landlords.

"This is an awful situation," said Fozia, who works for a home care organisation.

Another resident who did not wish to be named said he had been living in the block since it was built about 10 years ago.

"Nothing has been done to maintain this block since it was built," he said. "They have taken our money and done nothing with it."

Councillor Aftab Hussain, who sits on Oldham Council as an Independent, said: "As far as I'm concerned the council should find suitable accommodation for these residents until this problem is sorted out.

"The residents are in an awful situation through no fault of their own."

The Oldham Times has contacted Warwick Estates for comment. The named property manager is David Lim, based at Unit 12, Greenwood Court, Taylor Business Park, Risley, Warrington. His assistant is Hannah Jones, who answered the phone.

She refused to say where David Lim was, or how he could be contacted, and when asked to comment on the problems at The Victory she said: "I'm sorry, I'm going to have to end this call now." She then hung up.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) said: “GMFRS has taken action to require residents to move out The Victory apartment building based on concerns about their safety in the event of a fire. This is a decision that is not taken lightly given the disruption that it causes to those who live in the building as well as the flat owners.

“There has been extensive dialogue and engagement with the management company and their agent but significant works are required to make the building safe for residents and the safety of the public is the main priority.

“GMFRS has worked closely with Oldham Council to ensure that all residents have received information about the support available to them and how they can access advice and assistance to find alternative accommodation.

“We will continue to engage with the management company and has offered to meet with affected leaseholders.

"If suitable arrangements can be put in place to ensure that residents evacuate in the event of a fire then the prohibition notices may be withdrawn.”