London Borough of Newham response to the Grenfell Fire
Since the Grenfell Tower fire last year, we have been doing all we can to ensure all tenants and leaseholders living across our housing stock are protected in the unlikely event of a fire.
The project is extensive and covers council-owned blocks. However, the initial focus of this work has been on the three Newham Council tower blocks with Aluminium Composite Material cladding. This is the cladding which was on Grenfell Tower. Samples sent through from these blocks failed Government tests last year and we have been working hard to ensure it is removed as soon as possible.
Following a robust and timely procurement process, work has now started to remove the cladding with regeneration experts ENGIE appointed to do this. This is a significant step forward in ensuring our tower blocks are as safe as possible. Residents are at the heart of this work and we will work closely with ENGIE to ensure minimal impact on anyone living in the tower blocks and surrounding areas.
Regular engagement and communication with residents is also key to this work and we have kept them updated at every stage of the process. A Resident Engagement team has been set up specifically to work with tenants to ensure all the necessary safety measures are in place, both in communal areas and individual flats. The team will also attend blocks in an emergency situation, whether this is a fire, a flood, or power cut, to make sure residents have everything they need and to assist any potentially vulnerable people.
This whole project is not just limited to the three blocks with ACM cladding. We have sent off samples from all our blocks with any kind of cladding for further testing. If the tests reveal that the cladding presents any kind of fire risk, then we are committed to taking whatever action is necessary.
We have also been visiting all our blocks in the borough, to check that they have the correct fire safety measures in place. To date all 83 tower blocks and 1,253 low-rise blocks have been inspected. More than 2,000 enhanced fire safety visits have been carried out to individual residents, where officers can advise on any changes they could make to reduce the risk of fire such as making sure fire alarms work and that the correct fire doors are in place.
All our Fire Risk Assessments are up to date and have been published on our website.
In addition to this, we have also been awarded funding from London Fire Brigade to fund a range of fire safety equipment which will be distributed via the Resident Engagement team to older and vulnerable residents. The equipment will supplement the work already carried out by the council and will include fire retardant bedding packs, personalised sprinkler systems and electric cooker guards.
This project has not been easy and there is still more work to be done. Officers have been working sometimes round the clock, to respond to issues, reassure and assist residents and carry out what needs to be done. We are completely committed to making sure they are safe and we want to thank them for their patience and understand during this time. We have made significant progress and we are committed to ensuring that whatever measures are necessary are taken to protect all our residents.
Blog from Simon Letchford, Director of Environment and Community, London Borough of Newham.