RESIDENTS have threatened to withhold their rent after watching a next door housing block partially collapse.

Scores of people were evacuated from above the parade of shops in Kingsclere Close in Weston when a huge concrete walkway and courtyards collapsed as they slept.

Now residents in neighbouring Somborne House have demanded drastic improvements or to be moved into alternative accommodation, claiming they are no longer safe in their homes.

They claim fresh cracks have developed on the walls adjacent to the fallen structure and may refuse to pay rent until their concerns are acted on.

Bosses at Southampton City Council insist the 32-flat building is safe to live in and have asked residents to contact them if they have complaints.

And workmen were yesterday installing scaffolding around the stricken structure, which has been fenced off.

But one tenant, Christine Summers, told the Daily Echo: “We have been going to the council for years asking if they are going to improve the building.

‘Shame’ “It is such a shame that it had to come to this and now we are really concerned about living here.

“None of us are sleeping very well at night thinking about whether it will happen again.

“We are worried that where there is a connection between the two buildings it will actually give.

“We all might get together and refuse to pay our rent – it may prick their ears up at the council and make them see that we are concerned.”

When the first floor walkway fell down on Sunday morning, 11 people had to be evacuated down fireman’s ladders while more than 60 were escorted to safety amid fears of a gas explosion.

A number of properties were last night still without gas supplies.

Yesterday the Daily Echo revealed how residents said they were told the collapsed building was suffering from subsidence more than a year ago.

A council spokesman has not ruled out that that may have been a cause, but added that frost damage from a cold snap earlier this year was also under investigation.

Residents are being told they are safe and that initial investigations showed a brick pillar may have failed.

Surveyors have been dispatched to other properties in the city to see whether there were any other vulnerable flats, but none were found to be supported by similar brick pillars that could be a risk.