Residents' anger as repair work to home destroyed in gas explosion last Christmas has only just started

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Repair work has only just started on a house destroyed in a gas explosion last Christmas

Residents living near a house which was destroyed in a gas explosion last Christmas are fuming after being forced to live next to a 'bombsite' for a year.

Four people were injured when the property was flattened in the huge blast on Hemmingway, in Evesham, Worcestershire on December 27, 2022. Shocking photos at the time show how the property was obliterated while the neighbouring home was also left badly damaged.

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Residents who were evacuated from their homes last year and say they have been forced to live next to the eyesore for 12 months while 'nothing has been done'. Builders finally began moving on to the site to erect scaffolding around the site just before Christmas but progress has since been stalled.

Locals hope the work is the beginning of eventually being able to rebuild the homes after a year of uncertainty but are still angry it has taken so long.

Neighbour Jason Arthurs, 53, a dad-of-two, said: "The scaffolding has only recently gone up so we hope this is the start of some progress. Up until now there's been the issue of absent landlords overseas not wanting responsibility for something that is now a liability rather than an asset. There's also been an ongoing health and safety investigation which has meant work to the neighbouring property has been delayed.

"We have been fed-up waiting for so long living next to the site. It has been a source of frustration that nothing has been done after all this time. It has left our properties open to the elements in the colder months too so we've had to be careful heating our homes. It has been quite poignant putting up decorations this year because we were evacuated from our homes around this time last year. We didn't really get a Christmas as we were in a hotel for much of the festive period. It does bring it all back."

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Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, added: "The woman who lived next door is still waiting to get back in her home 12 months on. We've been forced to live next to a bomb site for a year with nothing going on. We hope these workmen will crack on with the job but I imagine there's still a lot of red tape to deal with. There's a lot of legal wrangling going on, I understand, which has been delaying things, but somebody needs to take responsibility. It shouldn't just be left like this for a year."

At the time West Mercia Police launched a joint investigation with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). However the force has now said the probe has since been handed over solely to the HSE.

At the time one man was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and two other adults were taken to the Hereford County Hospital to be treated. The three people did not suffer life-threatening injuries and were discharged from hospital.

Police evacuated ten neighbouring homes and gas supply was also cut off from 35 properties for the safety of the residents. Supt Nigel Webster, said previously: "This was, of course, a devastating incident, and our thoughts are with those injured, their families and the local residents."

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The HSE confirmed they were still investigating the explosion but the rebuild of the houses was a matter for insurers. A HSE spokesperson added: “We are now leading the investigation into the gas explosion in Evesham on 27 December 2022.”

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