Hackney mayor apologises for FRA claims

Hackney mayor apologises for FRA claims

PHILIP GLANVILLE has apologised for ‘misleading’ the public by providing incorrect fire safety information on the day of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Hackney Citizen reported that Mr Glanville stated on 14 June that ‘all of our buildings have an up-to-date fire risk assessment (FRA)’, but after one assessment was found to be ‘out of date’ and another had not been undertaken for five years, he said ‘we apologise, it was not our intention to mislead anyone’. He had also claimed that the ‘priority work’ needed on building had ‘been done’, though this was also ‘false’.

In addition, he added that the current fire safety system is ‘not fit for purpose’, with the council having described the out of date FRA as ‘within tolerance’, though London Fire Brigade (LFB) when contacted ‘did not recognise’ this terminology. On the ‘priority work’, another council spokesperson admitted that priority issues at Barrie House, a council block, ‘remain unaddressed after four years’, and was unable to explain why these ‘had been missed despite warnings from assessors’.

Mr Glanville released a statement saying: ‘The morning after the [Grenfell] fire, we ran a check on all of our 1,800 FRAs and none of these came back as being out of date. Subsequently we’ve found that one FRA was one month out of date. There is no statutory requirement to complete FRAs at any set frequency, unless there’s a substantive change to the building, however we choose to complete most of them on an annual basis. We apologise, it was not our intention to mislead anyone.’

Enforcement notices were also served by LFB to the council in July relating to the out of date assessment properties, including Wilkinson House on Cranston Estate and Chaucer Court on Milton Gardens Estate. The use of the term ‘within tolerance’ was, the council claimed, a term relating to ‘a one-month grace period after an assessor’s recommended review date’ that ‘allows flexibility’.

On being asked about the period being council policy, a spokesperson ‘did not know’, while a former health and safety officer said this ‘sounds reasonable’, but that the ‘whole point’ was assessors recommend a review date ‘based on the fire risks they’ve found at a building. Is this one-month tolerance period a routine thing? And is it based on any fire risk analysis?’

Previously the council had also had to go back on a decision not to release historical FRAs for 181 medium and high rise housing blocks, having said it would release them ‘at some future date’ but going back on this in September. Mr Glanville said this was still the ‘right step’ but has ‘raised lots of questions about whether the current system is fit for purpose’, with the council continuing to ‘raise its concerns with the government’ while it develops an ‘enhanced approach’ to fire safety.

He commented: ‘We will soon have redone every single FRA and published them, and any resulting actions are being completed. This is a huge task and our staff continue to work flat out to reassure residents and take all necessary measures to keep residents in our properties and their homes safe.’