Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville has apologised for providing misleading fire safety information to residents on the day of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
In a statement on 14 June, Glanville said: “All of our buildings have an up-to-date fire risk assessment (FRA).”
However, after the Citizen quizzed the council about a number of FRAs, the Mayor has now admitted that one of them was “out of date”, saying: “We apologise, it was not our intention to mislead anyone.”
He also suggested the current fire safety system is “not fit for purpose”.
Initially, the council described the out-of-date FRA as being “within tolerance” – a term a London Fire Brigade (LFB) official did not recognise.
But Glanville later released a statement saying: “The morning after the [Grenfell] fire, we ran a check on all of our 1,800 FRAs and none of these came back as being out of date. Subsequently we’ve found that one FRA was one month out of date.
“There is no statutory requirement to complete FRAs at any set frequency, unless there’s a substantive change to the building, however we choose to complete most of them on an annual basis. We apologise, it was not our intention to mislead anyone.”
Glanville’s statement on 14 June also included the claim that “any priority work has been done following these assessments”.
But a Town Hall spokesperson this week admitted priority fire risks at a council block in Barrie House remain unaddressed after four years.
The spokesperson could not explain why these Priority 2 issues, which should have been fixed within six months, had been missed despite warnings from assessors.
The Citizen is also awaiting confirmation from the council on whether FRAs for two more of its properties were out of date on 14 June.
LFB served the council with enforcement notices in July in relation to the two addresses – 1-12 Wilkinson House on Cranston Estate and Chaucer Court on Milton Gardens Estate.
A council spokesperson had previously described the out-of-date FRA as “within tolerance”, explaining that the term referred to a one-month grace period after an assessor’s recommended review date which “allows flexibility”.
When asked if this tolerance period was council policy, the spokesperson said they did not know.
A former council health and safety officer said that one month “sounds reasonable”, but the “whole point” is that assessors recommend a review date “based on the fire risks they’ve found at a building”, asking: “Is this one-month tolerance period a routine thing? And is it based on any fire risk analysis?”
Mayor Glanville added: “We will soon have redone every single FRA and published them, and any resulting actions are being completed. This is a huge task and our staff continue to work flat out to reassure residents and take all necessary measures to keep residents in our properties and their homes safe.”
The Town Hall recently admitted U-turning over releasing historical FRAs for its 181 medium and high-rise housing blocks.
Officials said in July that they were planning to publish the historical FRAs“at some future date” and then said in September that they had changed their minds.
Glanville says publishing the FRAs was still the “right step” – one that has “raised lots of questions about whether the current system is fit for purpose”.
He added that the council “continues to raise its concerns with the government” as it develops an “enhanced approach” to fire safety./ 3 November, 2017