High rise residents evacuated in Camden

Nick Myall
Monday 26 Jun 2017

Cladding continues to be tested and buildings evacuated in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tradegy in London

As residential towers across the UK continue to be tested for flammable cladding there are concerns that the process is not being carried out quickly enough. At the same time residents have been evacuated from some high rise towers amid concerns for their safety.

The majority of the residents in four tower blocks were evacuated from the Chalcots estate in London on Friday night. Camden Council said it had told about 200 residents still refusing to vacate the blocks that they "must leave" to allow improvement works to go ahead. 

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said officials would be visiting the residents still in their homes and they will continue to arrange temporary accommodation in hotels and other council properties.

She said there were "various legal routes that Camden Council could explore. However, we really don't want to do this".

She said: "Most of the residents are willing to go, they are just waiting for the right accommodation. They're scared, they want to be sure that they can come back... the right approach is to work with them."

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend, Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service who who now chairs the Peabody housing association in London, called for the testing process to be accelerated.

"We are told they can test 100 buildings a day - that should be the number they are meeting," he said. He added: "This is clearly a terrible national disaster and demands a national response. As well as the public inquiry on the lessons learned we need to establish where the areas of the highest risk are and take action immediately. That's been a priority for me."

The Local Government Association said some councils have introduced 24-hour warden patrols to mitigate the risk before cladding is removed.

In a statement The Local Government Association said: "This is clearly an unsettling time for communities whose cladding samples have already come back as combustible or who are awaiting test results. We have been assured that tests on cladding samples are being processed so results should be back quickly.

"Councils are contacting residents living in tower blocks whose cladding has failed tests and working with fire services to establish what action needs to be taken. Councils are also supporting social and other landlords in their area to help them in their work to ensure the safety of their residents when cladding on their buildings fail tests. 

“Where cladding fails the test, this will not necessarily mean moving residents from tower blocks. In Camden, the decision to evacuate was based on fire inspectors’ concerns about a combination of other fire hazards together with the cladding.  

“Working with fire service experts to assess risks, a number of councils have already introduced other fire safety measures in buildings, such as 24-hour a day warden patrols, when advice from the fire service is clear that this will mitigate against fire risks ahead of the removal of cladding.

"For those areas still waiting for results of tests on aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, our advice to them is to prepare contingency plans so they can take any measures needed quickly.

"Anyone living in a high-rise building can be reassured that their council will act on any advice from the fire service to ensure their safety.        

“The LGA has a team of staff working closely with councils and the Department for Communities and Local Government around-the-clock to help local authorities as they continue to support communities affected during this difficult time. We also continue to press the Government to ensure councils have the funding they need to support residents and carry out any new safety measures.”

In January 2016 WAN reported on a fire at a Dubai Hotel where it has emerged that the huge fire could have been fuelled by flammable panels which clad the 63-storey skyscraper

Listen to a podcast on the Dubai fire here...

Read our original story on the breaking news from the Grenfell Tower fire here...

Nick Myall

News editor

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United Kingdom

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