Audit, Inspection and Safety

14.08.17

Southwark Council cuts off gas in tower blocks amidst national safety concerns

A London council has cut off the gas supply to a number of high-rise tower blocks in its area to ensure the safety of its residents.

Following the Grenfell Tower disaster back in June, residents of the Ledbury Towers, overseen by Southwark Council, raised concerns about cracking in the buildings.

But after sending in structural engineers to check the safety of the blocks, it was found that further testing and maintenance work was needed to ensure their security. The council has taken the decision to shut off the gas supply in the building as it is “not willing to take any risks with their safety”.

A letter explaining the reasons for the gas being turned off has been sent to residents, and Southwark says it will provide them with hot plates to cook on and open up leisure centres for people to use the shower facilities. The authority has also confirmed that buildings are not being evacuated.

It also stated that a major works programme will now be carried out and that the local authority will work with residents individually to fund alternative accommodation. Anyone wanting to move out immediately has also been told they will be placed in Band 1 as a top priority bid for a new home elsewhere.

“At every stage of this investigation, we have put residents’ safety first, and acted on the best information available,” said Cllr Stephanie Cryan, deputy leader and cabinet member of Southwark Council.

“We are doing all we can to provide residents with alternatives while the gas is turned off, and are working up a plan to permanently replace the gas with electric ovens, boilers etc. as part of the wider works, should that be necessary.

“We have also written to the DCLG to inform them of this issue, as it may well have implications for other blocks around the country that were constructed in this way.”

The LGA’s chairman, Lord Porter, has written about this issue for the latest edition of PSE, in which he argues that everything must be clear and out in the open if the public are to have any faith in the safety testing process.

Councils ‘cannot afford’ to carry out tests on high rises

The news from the central London area follows serious warnings from the LGA that councils will simply not be able to afford to carry out sufficient work on high rises to make them safe for residents.

“Councils with a combination of ACM cladding and insulation on their high-rise blocks have already taken steps and put in measures to reassure residents about safety,” Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, commented.

“It is important that the testing process is now moving towards identifying what materials landlords should be replacing these systems with.

“We are talking to the councils affected about the costs they now face to remove and replace cladding and insulation systems on their high-rise blocks.”

The LGA chair also stated that with test fails affecting buildings owned by a range of different landlords across the country, it is clear that the current building regulation system has failed and that councils cannot afford to carry out this work.

“As a result, we remain firmly of the view that the government needs to meet the exceptional cost to councils of removing and replacing cladding and insulation on high-rise blocks,” he continued. “Councils want to ensure all residents in their local area are safe in their homes, regardless of whether they own the block or not.

“There are concerns that other landlords in some areas are not acting as quickly to inform residents about test fails and lack the urgency shown by councils to identify their buildings with the cladding and insulation systems which have failed tests so far and take steps to make them safe.”

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here 

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Funding inequalities could destroy public services in rural areas

20/11/2017Funding inequalities could destroy public services in rural areas

Central government funding per resident in county authorities was almost 50% below large cities last year, with councils saying the situation cou... more >
Major growth investment includes £1.7bn city transport fund

20/11/2017Major growth investment includes £1.7bn city transport fund

The government has today announced that it will release £1.7bn of extra funding for cities ahead of Wednesday’s Budget. Prime mi... more >
Counties and districts clash over suggestion to scrap two-tier authorities

20/11/2017Counties and districts clash over suggestion to scrap two-tier authorities

A report suggesting that scrapping district councils could save £2.9bn a year has prompted anger from the District Councils Network (DCN). ... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
Counties slam ‘secret and underhand’ city council boundary takeover plot

17/11/2017Counties slam ‘secret and underhand’ city council boundary takeover plot

Nottingham and Derby city councils have been accused of “secret and underhand” plans to expand their boundaries without proper consultation with residents or other authorities. The c... more >
Somerset council plans to cut 300 jobs over next two years

16/11/2017Somerset council plans to cut 300 jobs over next two years

Bath and North East Somerset Council (BNES) announced it needs to make £16m of savings over the next two years due to government funding cuts and rising demand. Its staff have been inf... more >

the raven's daily blog

Visual.ONS: How to compete with the big data aggregators

13/11/2017Visual.ONS: How to compete with the big data aggregators

Advertisement feature Christopher Gallagher, territory manager at SAS, explains how big data can be used by the public sector to find innovative solutions to common problems.  I have been really impressed by the work of Visual.ONS – the team at the Office for National Statistics, who are responsible for exploring imaginati... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Driving forward a healthier Scotland

10/11/2017Driving forward a healthier Scotland

Dundee City Council is leading the way in boosting electric vehicle (EV) uptake in Scotland, writes Rebecca Wallace from the local authority&rsqu... more >
A smarter approach to digital transformation

10/11/2017A smarter approach to digital transformation

Catherine Bright, Smarter Digital Services (SDS) manager, explains how a partnership of 12 councils across Kent and Surrey are jointly funding a ... more >
Delivering on estates

10/11/2017Delivering on estates

Sam Ulyatt, strategic category commercial director at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), on how a new framework can help public sector organisat... more >
Open for business

10/11/2017Open for business

Clare Moore, senior specialist of valuation and disposals at the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), explains how public sector bodies looking to... more >

interviews

‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

30/06/2017‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

Keith Smith, public sector business development manager at Virgin Media Business, tells PSE’s Luana Salles that health and social care orga... more >
HSCN: The enabler for a more joined-up public sector

26/06/2017HSCN: The enabler for a more joined-up public sector

Mark Hall, Chief Assurance Officer at Redcentric, discusses NHS Digital’s project, the new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) and what b... more >
Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

25/04/2017Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

Ahead of this year’s mayoral elections, Lord Kerslake, the former head of the Civil Service, tells PSE’s David Stevenson why the argu... more >
New social care funding misses the point

13/04/2017New social care funding misses the point

Clive Betts MP, chair of the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee, reflects on the social care funding released in this year’s ... more >

public sector focus

View all News