The Grenfell Tower fire is a tragic disaster and our hearts go out to everyone involved – those who have lost their lives, those who have lost their family, friends and loved ones, those who have lost their homes, their possessions and their valued memories.
And our admiration and respect goes to all those who headed into the blazing inferno to save lives at such risk to their own.
As social housing residents we feel a strong sense of solidarity with the Grenfell Tower residents, and we share their grief and anger. We can breathe a sigh of relief that we have no tower blocks on Kennington Park Estate. But our fellow Hyde residents on the Grantham Road Estate in Stockwell and our close neighbours on the Ashmole Estate do, as do many other estates across Lambeth.
The open design of our Estate means that the risks we face are totally different to those in high rise blocks. But there is always a risk of fire and our landlord still has a responsibility to take all possible steps to minimise that risk.
Hyde has employed consultants to carry out the required Fire Risk Assessments. It has taken the TRA many months of asking to receive the consultants’ reports prepared in August 2015, and we are not at all happy about their accuracy. In at least one instance we have been obliged to ask whether the assessment was undertaken as a “desk exercise” so inaccurate is its description of part of a block.
The inaccuracies we have identified are not of the life-threatening level of seriousness they might be if the design of our estate was different. But it scares us to think that the same inadequate approach may have been repeated in other Hyde properties.
It is reassuring therefore to hear that the Fire Service inspected Hyde’s five tower blocks in Stockwell yesterday.
Hyde has not only been reluctant to share these reports with the TRA, they have still failed to answer our repeated questions about what exact fire safety equipment are we being charged for in our service charges? Why are we being charged for the checking of non-existent fire extinguishers and smoke vents in communal areas?
Tenants have smoke alarms fitted as standard. Leaseholders do not – and several leasehold flats on this Estate are multi-occupied dwellings where common sense tells us the risk of fire must be higher. If only some flats have smoke alarms then we are all at risk – we will be campaigning for Hyde to fit smoke alarms in every flat regardless of its form of tenure.
Whilst we stand in sympathy and solidarity with our fellow social housing residents across London, we will continue to work for the residents here to ensure that all our homes are safe and that we can all feel secure in our beds at night.
Joan, Marilyn and Stephanie