CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Chalcots fire safety questions remain one year on from estate evacuation

Report into how evacuation was handled due on Monday

20 June, 2018 — By William McLennan

The estate before the cladding was removed

QUESTIONS over fire safety flaws that led to the evacuation of 3,000 people from council tower blocks remain unanswered one year later.

Residents and politicians have demanded to know how the risks at the Chalcots estate, in Adelaide Road, went unnoticed for so long and who was responsible for failings that led to the emergency operation on June 23 last year. Camden Council agreed to an independent review probing “how and why it happened” to “ensure that something like this never happens again”.

A first stage, looking at the handling of the evacuation, is due to be published on Monday. But a far-reaching second phase investigating what went wrong has yet to begin.

Delays were said to have been the result of legal wrangling between the Town Hall and Partners for Improvement in Camden, which held the £150m public finance initiative deal to install cladding and maintain the blocks. The company collapsed in May after the council withheld its monthly payment. Green councillor Sian Berry, who chairs the London Assembly housing committee, said: “It worries me greatly that this process may be used by those responsible to further cover things up.”

The blocks were found to be covered in the same cladding used at Grenfell Tower, where a fire claimed 72 lives. A subsequent inspection by the fire brigade also found issues with the towers’ structure and fire doors.

In a letter to residents this week, council leader Councillor Georgia Gould renewed her commitment to hold a second phase of the inquiry, which will “look more widely at the refurbishment of the buildings and their management”.

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