Tower Blocks in Acton are on 'High Risk' List

Council says "fire assessments are complete and up to date"

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Earlier this week the BBC exposed several London councils, including Ealing, which they said have been knowingly housing residents in tower blocks that are at high risk from fire.

In July six people died in a fire at Lakanal House, Southwark - a block that had been given a medium risk rating.

Experts now consider the building to be unsafe because of the speed at which flames spread during the fire.

But a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that 102 residential blocks in the city are considered even more perilous.

Councils use a scale to determine how great the risk of fire is in a building.

Monday's story highlighted fire safety problems in Caine House, Hanbury Road and Carisbrooke Court, Brouncker Road both in Acton. We asked Ealing Council to comment on the fact that the two blocks were listed as presenting serious fire hazards.

A council spokesman put most of the blame onto residents: “All of our fire assessments are complete and up to date. The assessments identified that work was required to reduce the risk in two of our 54 blocks and this is underway. One of the main risks arose from items blocking the communal areas. Ealing Homes has already removed items and written to all residents in the blocks asking them not to leave their possessions in communal areas as they are a hazard.”

John Gallagher, Labour councillor for South Acton said: "I can confirm blocks are being checked and residents have been sent letters about clearing obstacles which might be trip or fire hazards. I have raised fire safety on South Acton estate with the board of Ealing Homes after the Bermondsey fire and I am waiting for a full report on Carisbrook and Caine Houses which I have been promised from the acting director of Asset Management".

Gary Malcolm, Lib Dem councillor for Southfield Ward said: "The death of anyone because of poor housing is something that could have been avoided by better planning. My Liberal Democrat experience shows that Ealing Homes and the council are not effective at a lot of housing-related matters. Action on this should have been taken sooner given some of the problems relate to simple risk assessments."

Kate Crawford, councillor for East Acton ward commented: "This is a serious issue. It is known that the fire services can't access anywhere more than seven storeys high. The reason the fire in the building in Southwark was so serious was because the fire spread downwards due to cladding catching alight.

"Every council has to do an assessment on making sure the gap between the wall and the cladding is correctly filled."


October 8, 2009