Greenwich Council

Agenda item

Mayor's Announcements

Minutes:

The Mayor announced that the Royal Greenwich Festivals and Greenwich Docklands and International Festival had begun and were holding events through to the end of July, and he invited Members to attend if they are had not already done so.

 

The Mayor stated that it was regretful that he should begin his role as Mayor by noting terrorist attacks, at the Manchester Arena, London Bridge, and Finsbury Park, and also the appalling tragedy at Grenfell Tower. He asked Council to join him in condemning the terrorist attacks, in extending their sympathies to all the victims of these events, and in praising all those involved in the various emergency services who dealt so well with those events.

 

The Mayor called upon the Leader of the Council, Councillor Denise Hyland to make a statement with regard to the safety of tower blocks in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. 

 

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Denise Hyland made the following statement:

 

I would like to express our sympathy to the victims of the tragic incident at Grenfell House in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, those who lost their lives and those injured. Also in our thoughts are all those who have been made homeless by this dreadful fire.

 

We also recognise that this tragedy, that none of us expected to happen in the 21st century, has devastated a community; many of them had already suffered previously in their lives and some people had come here to the UK to actually rebuild their lives.

 

We as a London Local Authority have responded to this emergency:

·        We have lowered the Union flag to half-mast;

·        We have opened a book of condolence and people from across the Borough are invited to come to the Town Hall to express their solidarity;

·        We have sent adult and children social workers, housing officers and press officers to Kensington and Chelsea to support the Local Authority’s emergency support effort.

I would personally like to thank the Chief Executive and all his staff who have responded so magnificently to this request and so unselfishly in terms of their own personal and family lives.

 

I have written to the Right Honourable Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government, to ask for resources so that this Council can implement the fire safety measures recommended by any Interim Fire Report following Grenfell.

 

The Council immediately wrote to residents of high-rise buildings (six storeys and above) to reassure them in the wake of the fire.  We are enhancing fire safety in our health and safety maintenance programme. The Council does not use Reynoblock, the cladding used on Grenfell Tower.  No Housing Association has identified any homes using this cladding either.  We have not had to send any samples to the Government’s building research facility for testing, as we do not use Aluminium Composite Material of the type that was use on Grenfell.  Whilst we have ensured that caretaking staff are making additional checks I would ask our residents to make sure that they keep access and egress in the estates clear of clutter and rubbish so that should an incident occur people can manage to move throughout the building without obstacles.

 

All our fire risk assessments are in place.  We are one of few Councils to have our own fire safety team in place.  All our policies accord with London Fire Brigade requirements and legislation.

 

We have checked with developers, and with Housing Associations, to confirm their position with regard to cladding, likewise hotels, schools, student halls of residence and our corporate projects, for example Sutcliffe Park.  Some are doing further tests but none have confirmed that they use the same cladding as Grenfell.

 

The Homes and Communities Agency has written to all Registered Housing Providers of housing to remind them of their obligations to comply with the relevant legislation.

 

With regard to homes in multiple occupation through our licensing scheme we will ensure they meet the same standards.

 

I am sure the role of Building Control will come under national scrutiny because they are there to ensure buildings and their materials used meet a minimum set of national standards, as laid down by the Department for Communities and Local Government.  You will know that people do not have to buy building control services from the Council, it is an open and free market.

 

This is a seminal moment for tower block fire safety; nothing will ever be the same again.

 

The safety of our residents, whether in Council or private property is our paramount priority and we will ensure that we implement the fire report’s recommendations and look to the Government to provide the necessary resources - I know that the Minister actually confirmed as much on television but I have written to him and point out what the needs of this Borough are.

 

The Leader thanked fellow Councillors for their ideas and comments and for being supportive. The Leader also thanked the Chief Executive, the Assistant Director, Community Services (Housing), the Director of Central Services and the communications team, and the Cabinet Member for Housing and Anti-Poverty, for their work on the matter.

 

The Mayor called upon the Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Matt Hartley, to say a few words.

 

Councillor Hartley thanked the Leader for her statement. He said their thoughts went out to the victims and their families, and to the volunteers on the ground. He thanked Officers who had been deployed to help Kensington and Chelsea Borough. He supported what was being done to reassure residents and suggested that Ward Councillors needed to reinforce that message to residents.

 

The Mayor requested Members to join him in a minute’s silence both for the memory of the victims of the recent terrorist attacks and those of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

 

(Members observed a minute silence).