‘No compromises’: Council Leader unveils rigorous approach to fire safety and confirms independent Chalcots investigation

Camden Council has committed to an independent review into the circumstances that required the evacuation of four tower blocks on Chalcots Estate.

It will also adopt a rigorous approach to ensuring fire safety in council housing in the borough.

At the meeting of full Council on Monday (3 July 2017), Leader of Camden Council Georgia Gould also confirmed plans to:

  • Appoint a new director responsible for resident safety.
  • Carry out enhanced fire safety checks on every council-owned tower block in Camden and publish all future fire risk assessments.
  • Set up a borough-wide Camden Fire Safety Advisory Panel led by tenants and leaseholders.
  • Advise and provide training opportunities for tenants in every block in Camden on fire safety.

Councillor Gould said: “This has been an extremely challenging time for Chalcots residents and now is the time to set a new course and develop more stringent measures, at a local and national level, to ensure this can never happen again. Grenfell has changed everything and it is clear that there needs to be a national focus on safety, with no compromises.

“There are clearly national and systemic issues at play and I want Camden to lead the way in introducing a new era of resident safety. I’m committing to an independent investigation into the Chalcots situation and a more thorough and transparent approach to fire safety that fully involves our residents.

“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.

“When appointed, our new Director for Resident Safety will work side by side with residents to ensure that change happens quickly and that Camden leads by example. I’m determined that this will be the absolute priority for this Council – the safety of our residents will be at the heart of everything we do.”

The independent review will get underway in August, once Chalcots residents are back in their homes and have agreed the terms of the review.

Camden’s new Fire Safety Advisory Panel will meet quarterly. It will include residents, councillors, the borough Fire Brigade and Council officers.

The panel will receive officer reports about work being carried out on council owned homes and recent fire safety concerns raised by tenants and leaseholders. The panel will make recommendations for the Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing to implement.

For more information, view the webcast from full council and meeting minutes on Camden Council’s website.

The Camden Fire Safety Advisory Panel will:

  • receive officer reports on the status of work being carried out in and around council owned homes in order to achieve compliance with current fire safety legislation and regulation;
  • receive regular officer reports summarising recent fire safety concerns raised by tenants and leaseholders across the Borough and consider Council actions in response to those concerns;
  • understand the nature of and reasons for fires in Council homes across the borough in order to inform the Panel’s own fire safety recommendations;
  • review the Council’s tenancy conditions to ensure that they are sufficiently robust around fire safety and to receive reports on appropriate action being taken by officers where breaches occur;
  • review the Council’s Tenants Guide and guidance for leaseholders and staff to ensure that they are clear about what they should do to prevent fire and what to do should a fire occur;
  • consider wider best practice and recommend to the Council where good fire safety initiatives implemented elsewhere might also work in Camden; and
  • work with the Council to develop effective regular communications in appropriate formats for tenants and leaseholders around fire safety.