Chalcots Estate communication to residents from Camden COuncil
On Friday (23rd) evening, the London Fire Brigade recommended that residents should not remain in four of the Chalcots Estate blocks. The cladding on the buildings had already been tested and found not to be to the standard that we expected, and we promptly ordered it be taken off. This concern, combined with newly discovered fire safety problems identified by residents at a public meeting on Thursday and investigated the very next day – including issues with doors stops and inadequate insulation around gas pipes – meant we had no option but to ask residents to leave their home.
The Grenfell fire changes everything, and we will do everything we can to keep our residents safe.
The following is a briefing for you as elected representatives to answer questions you may have.
This briefing contains:
- Our latest statements
- Action taken so far
- Sequence of events
- Question and answer
The council’s latest statement can be found at: http://news.camden.gov.uk/latest-statement-council-leader-announces-initial-support-fund-for-evacuated-residents/
Other statements issued:
- ACTION TAKEN SO FAR
We have evacuated almost 600 households across four towers and used reserve funds to help our residents. £500,000 was spent block booking 273 hotel rooms with 629 beds. 110 sleeping spaces were made available at Swiss Cottage, and 300 at the Camden Centre.
Hundreds of council staff have been working around the clock to support our residents.
- SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
14 June – Grenfell fire.
15 June – Camden Council expressed its deepest sympathies to victims of the fire. The Council delivered a letter to all households in the borough’s 13 high-rise residential blocks, and wrote to DMC and TRA chairs. We confirmed Camden has a robust fire safety policy in place and all housing blocks on our estates receive Fire Risk Assessments. We confirmed our high-rise blocks will receive additional fire safety checks, including an inspection of cladding, to reassure Camden residents. Officers attended the Sheltered Housing Forum and Hampstead DMC to speak to residents and provide reassurance.
19 June – Second letter written to all households in the borough’s 13 high-rise residential blocks confirming we will be sending cladding away for testing and announcing extra fire safety checks in tower blocks. This additional assessment work includes a sweep of corridors to make sure they are clear of obstructions and anything that is potentially flammable. Camden Council says it will work with residents to test white goods (PAT testing), assessing fire doors in properties and will be providing fire safety advice fire safety to residents.
21 June – Council sends cladding at Chalcots Estate for tests at the British Research Labs in Watford. The Council confirms the overall cladding system differs from Grenfell Tower in that fire-proof rock wool insulation and fire resistant sealant between flats are in place, which stop the spread of fire.
22 June – Lab tests reveal the cladding is not what the Council commissioned in 2006, and a decision is taken to remove estate cladding. At the Swiss Cottage public meeting, residents and TRA raise concerns about a number of other safety issues. Council leader pledges to look at issues immediately for residents.
23 June – Council writes to residents on Ampthill Estate to confirm cladding would be tested there. Blocks of Chalcots Estate are subject to additional fire checks by the Fire Inspector, the results are given to Chief Executive and Leader in the late afternoon informing that gas insulation pipes and fire doors do not meet the highest standards and that, in conjunction with the failed cladding, means London Fire Brigade could not guarantee the safety of blocks. Decision taken to decant blocks at 5pm. Council sets up rest centre at Swiss Cottage, with camp beds and prepares measures to re-house residents and provide care & assurance. Liaises with Mayor’s Office, DCLG and emergency services throughout night via ‘GOLD’ Group.
- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
On Friday (23rd) evening, the London Fire Brigade advised that there were a number of fire safety issues that we and the LFB were previously unaware of. They recommended that residents should not remain in the buildings until these issues are resolved.
The cladding on the buildings had already been tested and found not to be to the standard that we expected, and we promptly ordered it to be taken off. This concern, combined with newly discovered fire safety problems identified by residents at a public meeting on Thursday and investigated the very next day – including issues with doors stops and inadequate insulation around gas pipes – meant we had no option but to ask residents to leave their home.
The Grenfell fire changes everything, and we will do everything we can to keep our residents safe.
What support is the council providing to those residents who have been evacuated?
We have committed £100,000 immediately to pay for food and drink and any essential items they may need.
What is being done to find people temporary accommodation?
We have clarified the process for securing temporary accommodation. Maiden Lane will release 100 units on Monday. These are Camden Council homes that we built and were being prepared for letting in mid-July. We will also make use of void properties in Camden’s neighbouring boroughs and with registered social landlords. We will continue to assess the people who stayed with their friends and family – looking at their housing needs for two to four weeks.
How can residents access temporary accommodation?
Residents should email email@example.com to arrange temporary accommodation. We are encouraging all evacuated residents to email whether or not they have already secured temporary accommodation, stating their name, address and current temporary accommodation status. This will help us keep a register of where everyone is.
We have spaces available hotel rooms tonight. Residents are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org with their details, or to visit Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre to register and talk to our teams there.
Will residents be compensated?
Our priority at the moment is to accommodate everyone from the Chalcots estate as safety and as quickly as possible. We are providing hotel rooms, a large staffing support team and we will make sure that residents get food and refreshments wherever they are staying.
Will the council be refunding hotel costs?
Any residents who organised their own hotel room last night, or do so tonight, should ask for an invoice. The council will pay for the costs. However, residents are encouraged to email email@example.com with their details and current accommodation status, so we can arrange a medium term accommodation option.
What are the costs to the council and taxpayer?
It is too early to say but there will be significant costs but the council will be using emergency reserves, which we put aside in case of a major incident. We expect a contribution from central government, but that is not an issue for now, and our priority is to find suitable housing, complete the works needed and get residents back in their homes as soon as possible.
How many people are involved?
We have had to relocate in excess of 3000 residents.
Where did people stay last night?
Overnight, 38 households were put up in hotels and 111 people stayed at rest centres. Approximately 200 households chose to stay with family and friends – taxis have been provided to take people.
How long will residents be away from their homes?
We estimate the works will take two to four weeks. Works are beginning immediately.
Will residents be forced to leave?
Both the Council and the London Fire Brigade advise in the strongest possible terms that any remaining residents Taplow, Bray, Dorney and Burnham should evacuate their blocks and take up one of our temporary accommodation options. This is the safest place for them to be. Keeping our residents safe is our number one priority
There are various legal routes that Camden Council could explore to require people to leave their homes. However, we really don’t want to this. We want to work with residents who are yet to evacuate and strongly encourage them to leave their homes and fix up temporary accommodation. We need to get the buildings empty so we can worth with our partners to start the work to make these tower blocks safe, so that everyone can return to their normal lives as soon as possible.
Why has Blashford Tower not been evacuated?
The London Fire Brigade has confirmed that Blashford Tower is safe for residents and does not need to be evacuated. This is because several design elements at Blashford – such as fire doors – differ from the other four blocks on the estate and it has met fire safety tests.
Council staff have been working hard to clear corridors and enhance fire safety at Blashford, and residents will continue to see staff and contractors carrying out additional fire protection work in communal areas. We expect this work to be completed by tomorrow (Sunday).
Security staff patrolling the building to ensure the safety of residents.
Can residents in the evacuated blocks go back to collect their belongings?Residents who wish to collect possessions from home can do so today. They should go back to their block, where security staff will meet and guide them into the building. They will also help residents carry heavy items. They have around 30 minutes to pick up items.
What is being done for evacuated residents who want to mark Eid?Imans will be coming to Swiss Cottage Leisure centre this evening, where there will be a specific space for prayers tonight, as Muslims prepare for Eid.
What role are staff continuing to play?We are urgently looking for people who can volunteer overnight tonight and throughout the day tomorrow. Colleagues have been asked to email Chalcots.firstname.lastname@example.org with the times they are available and a contact number. We will then contact them to allocate a task.
The council has also been supported over the last 24 hours by other London boroughs and national organisations.