Major Incident: Galpin’s Road, Pollards Hill

Update: Friday 30 September

We are pleased to announce that we have managed to secure the services of Leigh Day, an independent firm of lawyers who residents will be able to meet as a group and on an individual basis to discuss some of their concerns. To facilitate this, it does mean we need to push back the date of our next residents’ meeting to secure their attendance. We were due to meet residents on Tuesday 4 October 2022 to provide an update, but the next meeting will now take place on Tuesday 11 October 2022, 6.30pm at the New Horizon Centre. As requested at the last meeting, we are preparing a written briefing note from the last meeting and hope to share that and other updates next week. Following the announcement from the police regarding the delays to the investigation, we will continue to assist affected residents with accommodation and financial support.

Update: Thursday 8 September

Statement from the Council Leader, Councillor Ross Garrod

“Today, the thoughts of everyone at the council are with the residents of Galpin’s Road in Pollards Hill, exactly one month after the gas explosion early on the morning of 8 August.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Sahara Salman, who tragically died in the explosion. Today would have been Sahara’s fifth birthday and she was due to start school this week. We are also thinking of those who were injured in the explosion, who are being cared for in hospital.

“The council will continue to support residents through the aftermath of this tragedy, while a full investigation is carried out by the police to find out exactly what happened on that terrible day.

“Although it will be a while before we have the answers that we need, the council will continue to do everything we can for those who have been affected.”

Update: Tuesday 6 September 2022

Council Leader, Councillor Ross Garrod, has written letters to ask SGN, the police and the Association of British Insurers to address some of the concerns raised by residents from Galpin’s Road.

Read a copy of the letters here:

Letter to the police

The police’s reply

The full letter from the police is being shared with Galpin’s Road residents, but parts referring to individual properties have been redacted from this version.

Letter to gas company SGN

SGN’s reply

Letter to the Association of British Insurers

Update: Monday 5 September 2022

The council and FM Conway worked over the weekend to complete the temporary access road from Commonside East, across part of Mitcham Common to the south end of Galpin’s Road, which opened last night.

The temporary road is for access only. Residents can use it to enter and exit Galpin’s Road as frequently as they need to. However, drivers cannot park on the temporary road because it is narrow and only there to allow access for residents, visitors, emergency services and our waste collection vehicles while the middle of Galpin’s Road remain a police investigation site. 

Street lights are due to be added along the road this week and we will also be putting a bench alongside the footpath which is currently being used by pedestrians to walk to the south end of Galpin’s Road.

The Council will ensure that when Galpins Road re-opens fully, the access road will be removed and the common returned to its natural state. 

The rest centre, which is now in Pollard’s Hill Library in South Lodge Road is open between 9am and 6pm this week, including on Wednesday, when the main library will be closed.

The council’s Community Assistance Team continues to work closely on an individual basis with residents whose homes are in the inner cordon.  

Update: Friday 2 September 2022

The council and FM Conway have been working to complete the temporary access route from Commonside East, across part of Mitcham Common, to the southern end of Galpin’s Road.

We aim to complete these works on Sunday 4 September and open the temporary access road by 7pm that evening.

This will allow residents to access their homes and vehicles, as well as allowing access for emergency services vehicles and refuse collections whilst the middle of Galpin’s Road remains a police investigation site.

Once the police investigation has concluded and Galpin’s Road has been fully re-opened, the temporary access route will be removed and Mitcham Common will be restored to its natural state.

After the rest centre closes at 6pm tonight at the New Horizon Centre, it will move to Pollards Hill Library, where it will be open tomorrow and on Sunday between 10am and 4pm.

We would like to thank the Commonside Trust for hosting the rest centre in the New Horizon Centre for almost four weeks and for all the support their staff and volunteers have provided for residents.

Update: Tuesday 30 August 2022

Most residents from the northern end of Galpin’s Road have now returned to their homes and many of the residents from the southern end of the road have access to their properties by foot while a temporary access road is being constructed, so that they can move their cars out. We are continuing to support a small number of residents, of more than 500 people who were originally evacuated, and hotel stays have been extended for those who still need them.

The New Horizon Centre is open between 9am and 6pm for residents requiring assistance who are also encouraged to contact their insurers for further support.

The police investigation at the site of the incident is expected to continue for some time.

Update: Friday 26 August 2022

Over the bank holiday weekend, council staff and our partners from Commonside Trust will continue to support residents to return to their homes at the south end of Galpin’s Road, following the removal of the outer police cordon. SGN has completed gas safety checks on almost all of these homes.  

We are continuing construction work on the temporary access road at the edge of Mitcham Common. Until then, access to the south end of Galpin’s Road is for pedestrians only. Special arrangements have been put in place for rubbish collection from these properties.

Over the bank holiday weekend, the New Horizon Centre will be open between 10am-4pm each day to provide a range of support to residents who have been affected, who are also encouraged to contact their insurers for further assistance.

A central cordon will stay in place around the police investigation area during the coming weeks.

Update: Thursday 25 August 2022

We are continuing to support some residents back to their homes at Galpin’s Road following the removal of the outer police cordon; almost all homes are now gas-safe as SGN completes their checks.

We are continuing work on the temporary access road at the edge of Mitcham Common. Until then, access to the south end of Galpin’s Road is for pedestrians only. Special arrangements have been put in place for rubbish collection from these properties

Today, the New Horizon Centre is open until 6pm to provide a range of support to residents who have been affected, who are also encouraged to contact their insurers for further assistance.

The police investigation is ongoing and will involve significant engineering works on site for some weeks; a central cordon will stay in place around the investigation area.

We are continuing to work individually with families inside this area, where homes are severely damaged. A dedicated Community Assistance Team has been set up and is working directly with those families affected.

Update: Wednesday 24 August 2022

Today, the first group of residents from the south end of Galpin’s Road started to return to their homes, supported by council staff and our partners including the Commonside Trust and the British Red Cross.

Every resident is receiving a support package to help them settle in, which includes supermarket and takeaway vouchers, plus the offer of assistance from professional cleaning staff and pest control. Special arrangements have been put in place for rubbish collection from these properties, which can be reached on foot only, until the temporary access road across part of Mitcham Common, from Commonside East to the south end of Galpin’s Road, has been constructed by the council.  

The New Horizon Centre is open between 9am-7pm to provide a range of support to residents who have been affected, who are also encouraged to contact their insurers for further assistance.

Update: Tuesday 23 August 2022

We have agreed with the Metropolitan Police that the outer cordon at the southern end of Galpin’s Road can be removed as the properties are gas-safe. This will allow us to start supporting around 60 households back home over the coming few days.

We are asking residents not to return yet, as we will be contacting them to ensure the return is staggered and that we have the right support in place for each household.

Each resident will get this support as they return home:

  • we will ensure bins are emptied, as well as providing extra on-street bins for disposal of rubbish from inside people’s homes
  • we will provide professional cleaners on-site to help them clean up their property
  • we will provide any pest control needed as some homes have been left in the heat with food inside them
  • every household will receive a welcome home pack including supermarket and takeaway vouchers
  • we have created a community assistance team which will be working on site to help with any queries and issues residents have as they move home

No-one is allowed to pass through the police cordon, either on foot or by driving. This is why the council is building a temporary access road from Commonside East, across Mitcham Common to the southern end of Galpin’s Road. This will enable you and your neighbours living at the southern end of Galpin’s Road to drive to and from your properties and also provide access for recycling and rubbish collection lorries and emergency vehicles including ambulances and fire engines if needed. The temporary access road will remain in place until Galpin’s Road is fully reopened and then it will be removed and the common will be restored to its natural state.

We would like to thank residents for their continued patience, as well as thanking the hundreds of council staff and volunteers both on site, at the Civic Centre and at the New Horizon Centre for their continued work around the clock to ensure residents get the help they need.

Residents intending to go back to their homes straightaway are advised that they return at their own risk for the time it takes to build the temporary road, because, until then, there will be no access for emergency vehicles to the southern end of Galpin’s Road.

Update statement from the Met Police on the investigation 23 August 2022

Officers from the MPS Specialist Crime Command continue to investigate the cause of the explosion at the property in Galpins Road that led to the death of four-year-old Sahara Salman and injuries to other residents. They are working closely with colleagues from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to ensure a comprehensive and independent investigation is conducted. It is the most complex investigation that any of us can remember in Merton.

The search and forensic examination of the scene is complex and requires the involvement of a number of specialists. Given the complexity of the investigation, we anticipate the investigative work at Galpins Road to continue for several weeks. The centre of Galpins Road will remain impassable for this time.

Merton Council is building a road across the Common to allow residents to the south of where the explosion occurred, to gain access to their vehicles and properties while Galpins Road is blocked, and for emergency vehicle access to those homes when they are reoccupied.

We arranged over the weekend for cars to be removed from the immediate vicinity of the explosion. This is to ensure that specialist equipment needed for the investigation can gain access freely and without delay, and to avoid the possibility of damaging cars left at the scene.

Cordons are in place to support our investigation and to keep people safe. We anticipate being able to reduce the cordon to the south of Galpins Road when the temporary access road is built. However, while officers are working at the scene, a cordon will remain in place in the immediate vicinity. Unfortunately, people will not be able to return to their homes if they are within a cordon. The Met Police, Merton Council and other partners are working very closely to ensure disruption is minimised.

Officers continue to obtain accounts from witnesses, and anyone with any information is asked to contact the incident room on 020 8785 8244.      

We would like to thank residents for their support and understanding at this difficult time, as our officers work tirelessly to help us all understand the causes for the tragic explosion. Our thoughts remain with the family of Sahara and those who are in hospital.

Update: Sunday 21 August 2022

Gas company SGN is continuing to carry out gas safety checks in homes in the outer part of the southern cordon on Galpin’s Road.

Today, the New Horizon Centre is open until 9pm, offering residents help with practical issues and connecting them with specialist support. Alternatively, residents can call our helpline number 020 8545 4400.

Council staff and our partners, the Commonside Trust and the British Red Cross, are continuing to support residents, who are also being advised to contact their insurers for further assistance.

Update: Saturday 20 August 2022

Over the weekend, gas company SGN are continuing to carry out gas safety checks in homes in the outer part of the southern cordon on Galpin’s Road.

Council staff and our partners, the Commonside Trust and the British Red Cross, are continuing to support residents, who are also being advised to contact their insurers for further assistance.

The New Horizon Centre is open daily between 9am and 9pm, offering residents help with practical issues and connecting them with specialist support. Alternatively, residents can call our helpline number 020 8545 4400.

Update: Friday 19 August 2022

Gas company SGN are continuing to carry out gas safety checks in homes in the outer part of the southern cordon on Galpin’s Road.

Our staff and our partners, the Commonside TrustBritish Red Cross are continuing to support the first group of residents who have been able to move back into their homes in the northern end of Galpin’s Road to settle in.

We are also providing assistance for residents who have not yet been able to return to their homes.

If you are a resident affected by the Galpin’s Road gas explosion, help is available.

The New Horizon Centre is open daily between 9am and 9pm offering residents help with practical issues and connecting them with specialist support.

Alternatively, residents can call our helpline number 020 8545 4400

Update: Thursday 18 August 2022

We’re really pleased to confirm that the first group of residents, from more than 500 people who were evacuated last week, have now moved back into their homes in the northern end of Galpin’s Road.

Our staff and our partners, Commonside Trust and the British Red Cross, are on hand to help residents settle back in as quickly as possible.

We’re providing residents with support packages including supermarket vouchers, professional cleaners and rubbish collection.

Meanwhile, SGN Gas has started carrying out gas safety checks in properties on the outer part of the southern cordon.

The New Horizon Centre remains open daily between 9am and 9pm, offering residents a range of practical assistance and support for issues including their mental health.

Alternatively, residents can call our helpline number 020 8545 4400.

Update: Wednesday 17 August 2022

Today Council Leader Ross Garrod has been welcoming the first group of residents back home and has an update on what’s been happening. Watch his video here.

After SGN Gas yesterday declared the road is gas-safe to return, we’ve begun the process of moving the first group of residents back into their homes.

Every resident is receiving a support package to help them settle in, which includes supermarket & takeaway vouchers and the offer of assistance from professional cleaning staff.

At the New Horizon Centre, our staff continue to work tirelessly alongside our partners the Commonside Trust and British Red Cross to support more than 500 residents who were evacuated.

Update: Tuesday 16 August 2022

SGN have confirmed the road is now gas-safe

Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will start supporting an initial group of residents, from a total of more than 500 people who were evacuated last week, to move back into their homes.

We will be supporting them with food vouchers and cleaning of their properties

A small number of people will not be going home soon – their homes are near the site and are badly damaged – we will be supporting those people individually

Please avoid the area as there will be a lot of activity on site

In the meantime, our staff will continue to provide support from the New Horizon Centre

Update: Monday 15 August 2022

We are continuing to support more than 500 residents from 200 evacuated homes in Galpin’s Road. Our resident hub at the New Horizon Centre is continuing to provide meals, cash payments and accommodation for all those who need it. Council staff are working tirelessly to support affected residents at the hub, which is open daily between 10am-4pm.

Update: Sunday 14 August 2022

We continue to support more than 500 residents from 200 properties at Galpin’s Road while SGN works to fix the gas issue.

House keys are being collected from affected residents, so gas safety checks can be carried out once SGN Gas complete their works.

Every resident affected by the incident is in fully paid-for accommodation – with SGN also paying for some of the accommodation.

We are proving meals, cash support and access to medical services for those who need them at New Horizon Centre, open this weekend until 4pm

A text message service & helpline has been set-up for impacted residents, to keep them updated regularly.

Also, pets affected by the incident, which we have been notified about, have been collected & are being looked after in loving temporary homes until our residents can go home.

Leaflets will be delivered today to residents in the surrounding roads to keep them updated and every affected resident is being supported by Merton Council.

Update: Saturday 13 August 2022

Southern Gas Networks last night provided the Council with the following update statement:

“SGN teams have been working very hard at Galpin’s Road to get you back into your homes. However, we’re really sorry to inform you that it’s taking longer than we expected due to technical difficulties on-site.

“Our aim is to get you in safely as soon as we possibly can. Regrettably, it now won’t be this weekend, but we can assure you that we’re working flat-out to get you home. Our top priority is your safety.

“We are keeping in close contact with Merton Council and will update you as soon as work is complete and we can get you home.”

The New Horizon Centre remains open this weekend from 10am to 4pm providing support to residents. People can also call our helpline number: 020 8545 4400. 

We will continue to update this statement as more information is available. Alternatively, follow our Twitter channel @Merton_Council.

Update: Friday 12 August 2022

Southern Gas Network (SGN) have confirmed that the gas supply has been capped in Galpin’s Road, but the cordon remains in place.

SGN, with support from the council and police, can now start gas safety checks in properties within the cordon area. These checks must take place before residents can return to their properties. This process will start with the undamaged properties that are furthest away from the blast site. This will take time and Merton Council are communicating directly with affected residents via telephone and SMS text message. If you know anyone who is currently out of their home and hasn’t received our text message, they can call us on 020 8545 4400.

The New Horizon Centre remains open this weekend from 10am to 4pm providing support to residents. People can also call our helpline number: 020 8545 4400. 

We will continue to update this statement as more information is available. Alternatively, follow our Twitter channel @Merton_Council.

Update: 2pm, Thursday 11 August 2022

Southern Gas Networks are still on-site carrying out works, and residents are reminded to stay away from the cordon area.  

Council officers, police and community partners continue to support evacuated residents at New Horizon Centre.  

The centre remains open from 9am-9pm, providing food, cash payments for essential goods, medical support to those who need it, and emotional support for everybody impacted by Monday’s tragic events. Alternatively call our helpline number: 020 8545 4400.  

Additionally, volunteers at Ascension Church on Sherwood Park Road are providing emergency clothes and shoes for anyone who has been evacuated. The Church will be open until 4pm today and tomorrow from 9am to 9pm.  

Our community partners at AFC Wimbledon Football Club will be at New Horizon Centre today running free arts, crafts and football for young people, aged up to 14, who have been affected by the incident.  

We will continue to update this statement as more information is available. Alternatively, follow our Twitter channel @Merton_Council

Update: 7pm, Wednesday 10 August 2022

Cllr Garrod video on Galpins Road

Statement from Council Leader Ross Garrod

Following reports of insurance companies refusing to support residents affected by the Galpin’s Road incident, Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Ross Garrod is calling on these companies to fulfil their moral obligations and honour their arrangements in these exceptional circumstances.

Update: 11.30am, Wednesday 10 August 2022

On the advice of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the 200metre cordon remains in place. 

Southern Gas Networks also remain on site, and residents are reminded to stay away from the cordon area. 

More than 200 residents have been supported into accommodation since the incident began. Council officers, police and community partners are working hard to support these residents and ensure they have everything they need.

The New Horizon Centre, Pollards Hill remains open from 9am-9pm, providing food, cash payments for essential goods, medical support to those who need it, and emotional support for everybody impacted by Monday’s tragic events.  

A clothing donation centre is open at the Ascension Church, Sherwood Park Road, Pollards Hill. Any residents able to donate clothes (adult and children) are asked to drop donations there.  

We will continue to update this statement as more information is available. Alternatively, follow our Twitter channel @Merton_Council 

Update: 6pm, Tuesday 9 August 2022

Statement from Council Leader Ross Garrod 

“Firstly, I’d like to say that the thoughts of everyone at Merton Council remain with the family of the young girl who tragically lost her life, as well as her injured relatives, and we are working with emergency services to provide them with all the support they need now and going forward.

“This morning, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) attended Galpin’s Road to begin investigations. Southern Gas Networks also remain on site.

“The HSE immediately advised that the cordon be extended to 200metres. There is still a strong smell of gas, and we understand the leak may take some days to stop. I would stress this is a cautionary measure to ensure the safety of residents.

“As a result, we have today evacuated around 50 additional homes along Galpin’s Road, and by the end of today we will have supported more than 200 residents to leave their homes since the incident began. The police have been visiting the residents impacted.

“As a council, our top priority is the safety and support offered to those residents.   

“Our evacuation centre at New Horizon Centre in Pollards Hill is in full operation, and hundreds of council staff are working both in their day jobs and as volunteers in other roles to provide support to people. 

“We are providing food, hotel accommodation, cash payments for essential goods, medical support to those who need it, and emotional support for everybody impacted by the tragic events of yesterday.  

“We have also requested an additional evacuation centre to be set up in Croydon to meet the rising demand. 

“Sadly, we are also facing real challenges, not least among them the response of insurance companies, many of whom are refusing to pay for basic accommodation for homeowners. This is unacceptable. 

“Finally, I want to recognise and thank our fantastic community, who have come together tirelessly over the last 48 hours to help those in need. 

“Among them are the hundreds of residents offering to provide clothing for those displaced, and we are asking them to make donations at Ascension Church, Sherwood Park Road, Pollards Hill. 

“Also, none of this support would be possible without the Commonside Trust and the staff at the New Horizon Centre and council staff.”

We will continue to update this statement as more information is available. Alternatively, follow our Twitter channel @Merton_Council

Update: 1.45pm, Tuesday 9 August 2022

Following further inspection by the Health and Safety Executive on site this morning, the cordon is being extended to 200m, and we are in the process of evacuating further homes on Galpin’s Road. Officers are knocking door to door to advise and help residents.

Southern Gas Networks continue to work on site, and residents must stay away from the cordon area until it is safe to return.

Council officers are working as hard as possible to help the 100-plus residents who have been evacuated, and will continue to do so today, as more homes are evacuated. New Horizon Centre continues to act as our evacuation centre and is offering support including onward accommodation, financial help, food and emotional support.

Additionally, a clothing donation centre has been opened at the Ascension Church on Sherwood Park Road – any residents able to donate clothes (adult and children) are asked to drop donations there.

We will continue to update this statement as more information is available. Alternatively, follow our Twitter channel @Merton_Council

Update: 9pm, Monday 8 August 2022

More than 100 residents have now been evacuated from Galpin’s Road. Council officers are at New Horizon Centre organising accommodation for those people, while the emergency services continue to work in the area.

If you have been affected in any way by the incident, you can visit New Horizon Centre, South Lodge Avenue, Mitcham, CR4 1LT, where council officers are providing help and support. Alternatively call our helpline number: 020 8545 4400.

Update: 4.30pm, Monday 8 August 2022

Statement from Council Leader Ross Garrod

“We are all devastated by today’s news about the tragic death of a child as a result of the gas explosion at Galpin’s Road: our thoughts and hearts are with the family affected, and I know everyone in our community will feel the same. 

“Residents rightly have questions they want answers to, and a full investigation is underway by the relevant authorities, led by the London Fire Brigade. 

“This afternoon we opened an evacuation centre at the New Horizon Centre in Pollards Hill; the council is providing help and support to all those displaced from their homes. 

“So far, we have supported around 100 residents at this site, providing food, shelter, water, medicines, wash facilities and housing advice to everyone in need. We are also offering financial support as required. 

“Housing officers, social workers and other council staff are now working from the centre to ensure that all our residents are as comfortable as possible and that all their needs are catered for, including food and shopping vouchers.  

“Senior council staff, including the chief executive and directors, are also on site. 

“NHS colleagues are also on hand to provide assistance on all health issues, and community outreach workers from the London Fire Brigade will keep all residents updated as to the progress of the investigation into the incident.  

“We have also been arranging for the transportation of elderly and infirm residents who were unable to leave their properties and are arranging for care home facilities where needed. 

“The emergency services will be working on site at Galpin’s Road for the foreseeable future: our main pressing concern now is to provide accommodation and all the essential services that they need.  

“Following the advice of the London Fire Brigade, we will be communicating to all residents in the area affected about issues of safety during the afternoon and evening. 

“We have been overwhelmed by the kindness that residents and local groups have shown to other members of their community and thank everyone for their understanding.  

“This is such an inspiring community; today it has been torn apart by tragedy. But we will keep pulling together, and keep doing everything we can to support those affected.”

Update: 11am, Monday 8 August 2022

We are working with London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police following a major incident at Galpin’s Road in Pollards Hill.

Emergency services are on site following a gas explosion at a residential property, at least one property has been destroyed. We are urging people to avoid the area.

Firefighters are currently carrying out systematic searches and working to make the scene safe.

An evacuation centre has been established at the New Horizons Centre.”

We will continue to update this statement as more information is available. Alternatively, follow our Twitter channel @Merton_Council