Hackney Council has “no plans” to create a resident-led fire safety panel like Camden’s – instead making do with its “existing network” of tenant and residents associations (TRAs).
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, Camden Council announced it would create a Fire Safety Advisory Panel, which is to be “led by tenants and leaseholders” but also involves council officers and fire brigade representatives.
The group will receive reports on any fire-related work going on in council homes as well as summaries of residents’ safety concerns, before putting together a list of recommendations for future fire prevention.
A spokesperson for Hackney Council said it has “no plans” to do something similar, instead relying on its “existing network of resident-led groups that we have continued to meet and communicate with regularly”.
The spokesperson later confirmed that this was a reference to existing TRAs – which currently number 64, according to the council’s website.
But Pat Turnbull, chair of the New Kingshold Estate TRA, said: “What Camden’s doing sounds like a good idea. Some estates in Hackney don’t even have a TRA, so a borough-wide panel could be a way of drawing them in.”
Turnbull called for the reintroduction of the Hackney Tenants’ Federation, which she said used to represent council residents across the borough “via the democratic structure of elected TRA representatives” before it was “shut down by the council”.
She added: “That is the ideal, but an advisory body similar to Camden’s would be good in the absence of a federation. We do have the resident liaison group, but that is a small body which doesn’t have the same function.”
On 23 June, four tower blocks on Camden’s Chalcots Estate were immediately evacuated after tests revealed the cladding was similar to Grenfell Tower’s.
Angry residents were forced to spend a month away from their homes as urgent safety work was carried out.
Days after the evacuation, Camden’s Labour-led council announced it would set up the fire safety advisory panel “led by tenants and leaseholders”.
Council leader Georgia Gould said at the time: “Tenants identified some of the fire safety issues in the Chalcots tower blocks at a public meeting the day before our evacuation of the estate.
“Their place on the newly formed fire safety panel will help us take swift action to address fire safety concerns and help us forge closer links with tenants to better communicate the latest fire safety advice.”
Although led by residents, the panel will also include council officers and members of the London Fire Brigade.
When asked if the panel was a duplication of resources, given the existence of TRAs, a spokesperson for Camden Council said: “TRAs and this new body are very different things. TRAs are focused on individual estates, and give people a voice on local concerns such as antisocial behaviour.
“The new fire safety panel will represent tenants and leaseholders across the whole borough.”
The spokesperson said TRAs “can still feed information to the council on fire safety”, but the panel would be a more “in depth look at what happened after Grenfell”, adding: “There is no duplication of the role of the TRAs. They and the panel are very different entities.”
A Hackney Council spokesperson said: “The Council has been working with the London Fire Brigade (LFB) and our independent fire adviser – former LFB borough commander of Hackney – Graham Howgate, to ensure that fire safety across Hackney is under constant review.
“We don’t currently have a ‘Fire Safety Advisory Panel’ but we do have our existing network of resident-led groups that we have continued to meet and communicate with regularly, while providing opportunities for them to feed into our fire safety review process, to ensure they are full engaged throughout our Fire Safety Review.”/ 21 November, 2017