Croydon Council is conducting a hurried review of fire safety issues around its residential properties following the horrific events at Grenfell Tower in north Kensington yesterday. According to council cabinet member Alison Butler, Croydon’s urgent review includes “checks on all of our blocks with external cladding”.
The death toll from the fire which engulfed Grenfell Tower remains at 12, though with emergency services still working at the scene, there are fears that the number of fatalities could be much higher.
Croydon Council says that it has made an offer to help Kensington and Chelsea by providing emergency accommodation for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire who have been made homeless.
While other local authorities and London boroughs yesterday promptly issued public reassurances, saying that they were checking safety issues around blocks of flats in their area, Croydon Council has so far made no formal, public statement to its residents and tenants regarding properties for which it is responsible. There is no message of reassurance or sympathy on the council’s website. Tony Newman, the council leader, did make a 140-character bit of virtue-signalling, though: “Our thoughts & prays [sic] are with all victims of today’s tragic fire”.
This morning, Butler, the council’s cabinet member responsible for housing, did issue a statement to her fellow councillors which was short on detail (such as an answer to the obvious question: are there any blocks, council-owned or private, which have the same cladding as Grenfell Tower?), but which did include a bit of a nag at the end about tenants being tidy.
Butler’s email to councillors says:
Immediately the tragic events at Grenfell Tower became known, we looked at our own stock.
We have over 1,000 blocks although over half of these are no more than two storeys. There are 39 between six and 12 – none taller.
All Croydon Council housing blocks meet rigorous safety standards set down by the London Fire Brigade.
As a result of the tragedy at Southwark in 2009 we invested over £10million in upgrading fire safety in our stock.
We are currently making checks on all of our blocks with external cladding and looking at the implications as well as carrying out a full review of fire safety.
We will immediately assess what, if any, additional measures are required.
We have issued a number of statements to the press yesterday around these issues.
We have made an offer to Kensington and Chelsea to assist in any way we can, including an offer of emergency accommodation.
It is necessary to raise the issue of inappropriate storage by our tenants and leaseholders on landings, walkways and corridors – particularly bikes, pushchairs and mobility scooters, which is strictly discouraged by the fire brigade and compromises fire safety – please do your best to discourage this and advise of the safety consequences. Caretakers will be carrying out additional checks and extra staff will be on hand to provide reassurance.
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