Funding approved for essential fire safety works to Newham tower blocks

23 February 2018 in Community safety and Council and democracy and Housing and Mayor
Approval has been given for further funding to be made available to ensure there is no delay to essential fire safety works for Newham Council tower blocks following the Grenfell Fire disaster.​​
Since the tragic fire last year, Newham Council has been working hard to ensure that residents living in its tower blocks are kept safe in the unlikely event of a fire. An extensive programme of checks on every tower block is currently ongoing in partnership with the London Fire Brigade and the council’s own fire specialist experts.

In order to take whatever precautions are necessary, the council is going above and beyond the requirements requested by the Government. The Department of Communities and Local Government testing criteria only relates to blocks with Aluminium Composite Material cladding (ACM).

However, Newham Council has taken samples from 20 council blocks in Newham with other forms of cladding and sent for further testing. These samples are being assessed by specialist engineers for any risks they may present.

To date, of the 20 samples sent, results have been received from four blocks – Albert Bigg Point, Aubrey Moore Point, Henniker Point and Smiths Point. These have been assessed and fire safety experts have concluded the cladding systems in place on these buildings could present a fire risk and have made recommendations for both mitigation and remedial works.

At the meeting last night (22 February) of Newham Council’s Cabinet, the Mayor of Newham and Members agreed an urgent report for funding to be made available for essential fire safety works to go ahead at the four blocks which had failed the tests. The funding will also cover future work required at other blocks in the borough which may require remedial measures.

Required funding will be allocated from the Housing Capital Programme to ensure the full programme of fire safety works can be carried out. This funding will also cover interim measures put in place to mitigate against any risk presented.

Significant and essential fire safety works will need to be carried out to each block to ensure resident safety as soon as possible. The full scope and scale of the works are currently being explored and subject to further testing and advice from expert fire and building engineers.

All residents living in these blocks have already been informed of the test results and interim safety measures were put in place earlier this week. These include:
  • A waking watch of fire safety trained staff will be present in the building 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they will raise the alarm and help residents in an emergency. 
  • Housing staff based on site every day including weekends to deal with resident enquiries
  • Personal evacuation plans in progress for all vulnerable residents 
  • Increased waste collections
  • Changes to fire evacuation procedures (from “stay put” to “simultaneous evacuation”).
Temporary heat detection systems linked to a central alarm are currently being sourced and will be located above the windows of every flat and communal area.

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham said: “The safety of our residents is absolutely paramount and this is why we have taken action immediately to test the cladding on all of our tower blocks and not waited for further instruction from the Government.

“I requested this urgent report so that officers are not delayed in carrying out whatever is necessary and that they have all the resources they need - whether that’s funding or permission - to carry out whatever work needs to be done to keep residents safe.”

Councillor Terry Paul, mayoral advisor for housing said: “We want to reassure residents that we are doing everything within our powers to make sure they are as safe as possible. They will continue to be updated throughout this whole process. We thank them for their cooperation and patience during this difficult time.”