To receive a report from the Executive Director of Housing, Health and Adult Social Care providing an update on properties in Enfield following the Grenfell disaster.
RECEIVED the report of the Executive Director of Housing, Health & Adult Social Care providing a briefing on the Grenfell fire and the response by the London Borough of Enfield.
1. The report was presented by Madeleine Forster (Interim Assistant Director – Council Housing & Regulatory Services) as detailed at pages 1 – 3 of the report, located in the main agenda pack.
2. The bar had been raised by the experiences of the Grenfell disaster and the Council made a decision soon after, that over a period of time, they would be looking to install sprinklers into their high rise blocks. The Council would be starting with Dorset House and Keys House because they could add sprinklers into the contract they hold for those 2 high rise blocks. They would use these 2 blocks as a pilot this year and review with residents in order to create a proto type to roll out to other blocks.
3. In terms of tenant behaviour and the Council’s attitude towards that, there is now an enforced zero tolerance to anything that is left in communal stairways i.e. door mats which are flammable and can spread fire. Action will also be taken against tenants who have door security grills which impede exit in case of fire. Also, looking to increase parking enforcement in areas around high rise blocks where there is evidence of people parking cars and denying fire brigade access, checking legal processes and taking action in a number of areas.
4. All members had been told of the status of their particular blocks in their own respective wards. Housing teams have attended ward forums, especially over the summer period, including ward forums where high rise blocks (over 6 storeys) are situated. Additionally, the housing newsletter had a recent insert, which was designed in conjunction with the fire brigade, so as to provide residents with the latest information to keep them informed.
5. In response to the Chair’s request for any questions or comments, the following were discussed:
a. Councillor Savva questioned the type of action that would be taken on people who did not follow the rules and regulations of the fire brigade. Madeleine Forster clarified the following:
· Door mats were being removed after letting tenants know and kept for a length of time before disposal.
· Where people are co-operating by removing items, letters are posted to thank them for doing so.
· Parking enforcement – the Council are limited until emergency parking orders are in place. These were currently being consulted on. There at present notices are being put on peoples’ cars saying that they are parked in a space that would impede a fire engine getting through, should a fire occur. No enforceable action can be taken until orders are in place.
Post meeting note:
We have been working closely with our consultants The Project Centre who have visited each of the 30 HRA sites, identified by the Fire Service as having an access risk, during the day and night. Plans and drawings have now been issued for each site and we are now in the process of checking each one.
We will shortly begin the Statutory Consultation process which includes advertising the order – timeline below;
Consultation 21 days – during this time we will obtain prices for signs, lineage, etc
Consultation ends 22nd November 2017
1 week to review objections
Implementation 11th December 2017
b. Councillor Savva invited Madeleine Forster and her team to attend a joint ward forum (Edmonton) meeting to be held on 13 December 2017 at Community House, 3-11 Fore Street, N9 0PZ.
c. To install sprinklers across the whole of the high rise blocks (over 6 storeys) would cost over £8M. There are additional costs which housing are currently containing within their budgets, putting it under pressure as a result. A return has been made to DCLG informing them of the pressure on the HRO because of these works.
d. Councillor Dogan asked if teams monitor, on a regular basis, the communal areas within the high rise blocks. Madeleine Forster clarified that this was being done by neighbourhood offices. There are 3 specific inspectors, and since Grenfell, we have re-allocated the time they spend in different areas. So they must visit all the high rise blocks every 2 weeks. These new measures have been incorporated as ‘business as usual’ for all the teams as a heightened approach. The inspectors report directly to the neighbourhood team and raise any repairs or any concerns immediately as part of their core duties.
e. James Rolfe (Executive Director – Finance, Resources & Customer Services) completed the picture for Enfield with an update on the properties within Housing Gateway:
· None of the properties on Housing Gateway is affected by the Grenfell disaster because they do not have any high rise blocks. However, all the properties of Housing Gateway are being checked as a best practice measure.
· There are 417 properties in total, the majority of which are occupied. All of these are in low and medium risk blocks. Where the Council do not own the freeholds of these properties, landlords are being contacted to obtain assurances about ACMs (Aluminium Composite Materials). There has been a good general level of feedback but has been taking time because landlords and people who do these checks are currently focussed on high rise blocks.
· Brookfield House – medium rise block owned by the Council in Southbury Road. Checks have found that panelling on the building does contain ACM. The Council have been working very closely with the fire brigade making sure that the fire risk assessments are up to date. The risk has been confirmed as acceptable by the brigade and this has been communicated to residents who have not raised any concerns.
· A survey has been undertaken regarding the ACM panelling on Brookfield House. The results showed that some action needs to be taken and therefore a more detailed survey is now being undertaken to understand the full scale of what does and doesn’t need to be done. The Council were now going through the legal processes about how much they can rely on warranties, building control sign offs, etc, so as to get the works paid for.
· More than happy to provide the Committee with a further written update so as to obtain the full picture. The routine governance goes through the Housing Gateway Board, which meet on a monthly basis. They are provided with a written report where all action points, facts and figures are set out.
ACTION – James Rolfe (Executive Director – Finance, Resources & Customer Services)
6. The Chair thanked Madeleine Forster for her report.
AGREED that Audit & Risk Management Committee note the contents of the report.