In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in London it’s been confirmed that all external cladding fitted to rented Vale of Glamorgan and social housing properties in Penarth and elsewhere in the Vale “exceeds current building regulations”.
The announcement was made in last night’s meeting of the Vale Council by Cllr Andrew Parker – cabinet member for Housing and Building Services.
Plaid Cymru leader Cllr Ian Johnson had tabled the following question to the Vale cabinet:- “ Following the recent tragic events at Grenfell Tower in London, can the Cabinet Member give assurances regarding the safety of Council and Registered Social Landlord-owned properties with multiple occupants?”. A similar question was also tabled by Cllr M R Wilkinson (Labour) .
Cllr Parker prefaced his remarks offering the council’s condolences and sympathy to those families whose loved ones may have died or been injured in “the tragic events of the fourteenth of June” [ i.e. the Grenfell Tower-block fire]
Cllr Parker told councillors that they had all been sent an email regarding the actions of council officers and the council’s plans to “re-assess” its tenants.
Cllr Parker said ” Over the last 2 weeks officers have reviewed and evaluated our fire safety protocols and procedures in the light of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Officers have been in direct contact with our contractors and specialist external wall insulation providers to seek the necessary assurances regarding the type and insulation materials that have been applied to some of our flats and houses.
Cllr Parker said “Neither the council nor the local RSLs own any high-rise flats in the Vale of Glamorgan and the cladding system used in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower has not been used on any other residential social housing in the Vale.”
He went on to say “All our flats with communal areas have been risk-assessed by appropriately-trained staff . These assessments are supported by monthly scheduled communal area inspections highlighting any fire protection and repair issues that may subsequently have become evident.”
Cllr Parker said “In addition the council undertakes cyclical servicing and maintenance of all fire protection systems and has auditable reports which are regularly reviewed by the Housing Health and Safety Compliance Team”
The Compliance Team remit is to consider all health and safety-related matters in council housing – and the team was involved in discussions relating to the specification for, and the application of, external wall insulation systems.
The insulation cladding system used – which is not the same as in London – is deemed safe under the existing guidance and exceeds current building regulations. However this might change in the light of recent events.
The contractors’ work has already been independently checked as the work progressed on completion . Senior staff have checked all records regarding inspections and these are up to date. Staff have also attended coffee mornings at our sheltered schemes providing fire-safety awareness advice. Officers are currently visiting and providing fire safety information leaflets and evacuation advice to tenants in communal flats and this should be completed by the end of this week.”
Cllr Parker said “Safety is our major concern at this stage” an invited all councillors to contact him if they had any further concerns.