Fire safety in housing blocks in Brent

Following the tragedy in Grenfell, residents are rightfully concerned about fire safety, particularly in blocks of flats.

Brent has been in regular contact with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) to offer assistance.

So far Brent has provided staff to assist RBKC at their Borough Emergency Control Centre at Kensington Town Hall. Our local authority liaison officers and rest centre managers are also on standby and are ready to respond should they be required. We have also offered our employee assistance programme to London Fire Brigade staff to help support them through personal mental health issues they will inevitably be experiencing following the tragedy.

As part of the recovery operation we have asked whether housing in Brent with be required by Grenfell Tower residents. We understand that RBKC’s strong preference is to rehouse Grenfell Tower residents within their borough wherever possible but have said they will be in touch with us next week to discuss this further.

The support from people across London in donating clothes and essentials has been fantastic and RBKC have now advised us that the best way to support those affected is through financial donations rather than goods. The details for the website which has been set up have been promoted by us locally and further details are here LINK

The Leader has also made a statement about fire safety which is available here LINK

A ‘Talkback’ event was held with tenants and leaseholders on Wednesday evening (June 14) where officers from BHP and the council were also able to directly answer questions from tenants and leaseholders about fire safety.

Understandably, some Brent residents living in high rise blocks have been contacting BHP and the Council for information and reassurance regarding their homes. BHP has been responding to these queries and information is available on the BHP website. Any members who have specific questions from themselves or from residents should email them tobhp.compliance@bhphousing.co.uk who will respond as soon as possible.

The facts in Brent are:

– We have 37 high-rise (5 storeys or more) blocks in Brent, all of which are 100% fire risk assessment compliant.

– We have never directly used Rydon Limited or Harley Facades Limited, the contractors who worked on Grenfell Tower. We do not yet know about other registered providers and we are seeking this information from them.

– Since the incident began the Compliance and Risk team at Brent Housing Partnership have been responding to questions about fire management policies and processes and the steps that have been taken over recent years to reduce the risk of fires in council run blocks.

– More than £10million has been spent over the past 4 years on measures to reduce the risk of fires in council run properties.

Estate inspectors and compliance experts have been mobilised to provide additional re-checks of communal areas and exit routes to remove any remaining rubbish, bicycles and other hazards which could hinder access and exit in an emergency. They are also doing extra checks of the blocks with cladding to ensure all remedial works, which form part of business as usual, are actioned as a priority, ahead of the prescribed schedule.

Finally, it was announced yesterday (June 15) that there will be a full public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire to get a full understanding of went so wrong and how similar tragedies can be prevented in the future.

The Government has also announced an emergency review into fire safety in tower blocks. Once the findings are known we will of-course review and, if needed, amend our fire management processes and strategy accordingly.

A by-election in Dudden Hill imminent?

Dudden Hill Liberal Democrat Councillor David Clues has been living in Brighton since 8th December 2011 LINK

In a show of contempt to the Brent Council Taxpayer, the Liberals look like they will be holding a Council by-election sometime in the next couple of months in Dudden Hill, when they had the choice to hold it on the same day as the London Mayoral elections.

By-election costs come out of the Council’s general fund.

There was a flurry of activity in Dudden Hill today for the first time since May 2010. I was out on the doorstep, as I am every Saturday, when I even spied Sarah Teather. A couple of people living near Gladstone Park have mentioned that they have been canvassed by the Liberals.

Interestingly, I spoke to a Lib Dem activist who had come over from Kensington to help out the Lib Dems in Dudden Hill. He first of all looked surprised and was impressed with seeing a young Councillor. He vented his disappointment at the way in which the Government was handling the economy and that the richest landowners in society had the means to pay off debt with a one off payment rather than targeting welfare and disability benefits. I asked that you can raise that with the MP that is there today. He said I’ve seen her briefly today – but this sort of thing is “too advanced” for her. At which point we exchanged contact details. Says a lot when Lib Dem activists feel more comfortable talking to Labour Councillors than Lib Dem MPs, Councillors and Government Ministers!

This level of activity from the Liberals is unprecedented in my tenure as a local Councillor, which suggests to me that a by-election in Dudden Hill is coming soon.