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04.01.18

Grenfell council to take direct control of homes from troubled TMO

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) has taken over control of housing from the area’s controversial tenant management organisation (TMO).

The board of the TMO unanimously agreed to transfer its powers to RBKC following criticism it received in the wake of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire last year.

Prime minister Theresa May ordered the council to take power away from the organisation following the event, with the two parties ending their contract in September.

Although RBKC will now be fully responsible for the housing needs of residents in the borough, it has confirmed that this will only be a temporary arrangement and it will aim to hand back control once a new management system can be agreed.

In a letter to residents, Cllr Kim Taylor-Smith, deputy leader of the council, and Doug Goldring, director of housing management, confirmed the move but assured residents that the TMO would be held responsible for any shortcomings in its management leading up to the fire.

“It is important to say that while the KCTMO will no longer be involved in managing your homes, it will continue to exist as a legal entity so that leaders can be called to the public inquiry and held to account in any criminal or civil legal proceedings that may take place in the future,” they wrote.

“This is not a way for the KCTMO to avoid accountability.”

In September, communities secretary Sajid Javid revealed a review conducted by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) which found that only eight council-owned towers in England passed cladding safety tests, prompting even more local authorities across the country to rush to begin necessary fire prevention work.

Fire funding gap

One of the major problems with the sudden uptake of new safety systems has been the huge associated costs.

Earlier this week, Croydon Council put in a request to the government for further funding – the third time it says it has made such an application.

It rises from the £10m costs expected from a sprinkler retrofitting programme that the authority is currently implementing.

A spokesperson from the DCLG said they would be looking into the matter further, but assured councils that public safety was of the utmost importance and the government would “consider financial flexibilities” for concerns about fire protection funding.

Top image: Andy Morton

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