We would like to reassure residents and the wider community on fire safety at Northwood Tower, Walthamstow, following recent misleading media reports. Northwood Tower is a safe and secure building that provides a decent home for its residents. Several recent articles in local newspapers contain misunderstandings and inaccuracies that will cause unnecessary concern for residents, and we must put that right.
Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) are carried out annually in our high-priority blocks to ensure they are safe. The FRA referred to in the reports was carried out at Northwood Tower in June 2018. This inspection identified 65 actions of which 57 have been completed. The outstanding actions are all in progress and none pose a critical risk to the safety of residents of the block.
The 2019 FRA for Northwood Tower is currently underway and due to finish this month. We will be meeting with Northwood Tower resident representatives after this assessment is complete to explain the FRA findings, the many other actions we take to manage fire safety, and reassure them about the council’s approach to their safety.
The current statutory requirement requires only a visual inspection – but a visual inspection is limited in terms of the information it can provide about the building. To exceed current standards and further ensure resident safety we are now moving to a programme of FRAs which will involve more in-depth, intrusive investigations across all of our high-priority stock.
We continue to invest in Northwood Tower. Over the last three years we have invested over £1m to fund an updated CCTV as well as new doors, windows, and decorations to communal areas. We work hard to ensure all residents have a decent and safe roof over their head.
We are closely monitoring the Government’s implementation of Dame Hackitt’s Building Safety Review following the Grenfell tragedy. We are being proactive and, where possible, making changes now rather than waiting until the new regime is introduced in 2021.
Residents should be reassured that there are no council buildings in Waltham Forest that use the ACM cladding used on Grenfell Tower. Following the disaster we agreed to invest £500,000 every year to fund installation of sprinklers in all our high-priority blocks and this work is currently underway. This is above and beyond our statutory requirements.
We are committed to making our housing stock the safest in London and we will continue to make sure that our residents are updated on all the work we are doing with the government, now and in the future, to improve our stock. The safety of our residents is always our top priority.