Hackney’s social housing residents have fortunately not had to endure the anguish of a fire on the scale of Grenfell Tower, or Southwark’s Lakanal House.
Yet reading between the lines of Hackney’s approach to fire safety, one discerns a worryingly lackadaisical management style clad with communicational opacity.
So far, fewer than five per cent of the 1,800 fire risk assessments (FRAs) Hackney Council has pledged to release have been made public, via a user unfriendly map that has been slammed by disability rights activists.
The contents of this initial trickle of information is cause for serious concern. In the first batch of 15 FRAs posted by the council, three high risk issues were identified, and not a single one had been dealt with within the one-month target.
At 52 Amhurst Road, no FRA was carried out for five years, allegedly because assessors were not able to gain access. When the property was eventually inspected, it was discovered that there was no fire alarm in place.
Fire safety is not glamorous or exciting. Yet whether or not people are clamouring for it, whether or not there is spare cash to splash, protecting residents from a catastrophic inferno is the absolute duty of any local authority.
The council needs to pull its socks up on fire risk management. Residents need to know it is looking out for them, rather than wasting resources sniping at those who report on its failings. It is utterly shameful that such diversionary tactics are the only transparent aspect of the Town Hall’s fire strategy./ 8 September, 2017