LPS buildings will be ‘fully refurbished and not demolished’, with strengthening work to be undertaken. The four buildings on the

Ledbury Estate – constructed with the LPS method – saw their gas supplies cut last August and certain residents evacuated as a consequence, with structural defects cited. Southwark council had said it was ‘confident’ about the tower blocks’ safety, with inspections discovering ‘urgent fire safety risks in dozens of flats that had been present, in some cases, for up to 30 years’, and type four ‘thorough and intrusive’ fire risk assessments were carried out by council fire safety officers. A report from Mr Tarling and

Mr Webb recommended that the buildings should be demolished, while extensive strengthening works were recommended by structural experts, Arup. The council later adopted 18 fire safety and repairs recommendations after an independent review of its handling of the issues. Southwark News reported

however that the council’s cabinet approved plans were to refurbish ‘and not demolish’ the towers, with the resident backed plans aiming to refurbish the four towers

via costs ‘partly met’ by building new homes on land next door, half of which will be council homes. The refurbishment will consist of strengthening work, new lifts, windows, roofs and lighting. A Ledbury Action Group

spokesperson stated: ‘Where many other [LPC] owners around the UK are discovering similarly serious problems and simply opting for demolition, Southwark are instead taking a unique position by attempting a newly designed structural strengthening and fire-stopping programme to the Ledbury tower blocks. ‘This unprecedented design solution will undoubtedly attract a great deal of attention, both from those in the industry, as well as other local authorities and the ministry of housing, communities and local government. We are all very keen to see how the first pilot tests pan out, as this will truly be a landmark moment, determining the future of many Large Panel System blocks around the country. ‘All eyes are on Southwark now.

It’s admirable that they’ve listened to the residents’ thoughts and wishes and are giving this a go.’ Stephanie Cryan, cabinet member for housing, added:

‘We know it has been a difficult time for many people but I feel we are at a point where we can start moving forward and get this work done to fix the homes in the four tower blocks, and use this opportunity to build new, family homes on the estate to help meet costs and help local families living in overcrowded conditions. ‘I want to extend my thanks to

the residents in the tower blocks and the wider estate, members of the Resident Project Team and the Ledbury Tenants and Residents Association for their invaluable help and commitment to the future of the tower blocks, and very much hope that we continue to work together as the works progress to ensure the right outcomes for the Ledbury community.’ In Leicester, the council elected

to demolish the 23 storey Goscote House because of fears for its ‘long-term structural integrity’. Two blocks at Biart Place in Rugby were also recommended to be demolished, with residents to be rehoused ahead of any such decision. Portsmouth and Haringey Councils have ‘yet to decide’ whether their LPS blocks ‘deemed unsafe’ should be demolished or strengthened

Reduction of fires in new Home Office statistics HOME OFFICE statistics point to a reduction in the number of fires and incidents attended, which the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) noted was ‘pleasing’ to see. The statistics, which cover the

period from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018, saw fire and rescue services (FRSs) attend 556,884 incidents – a 3% decrease on the previous year. Of these, FRSs attended 159,685 fires, which was a 9% decrease year over year. The NFCC stated that the fall in fires is ‘driven by a fall’ in secondary fires, although primary fires have also decreased.

Less than a 1% increase in

false alarms were attended (226,466), while FRSs attended 170,733 non fire incidents – a 2%

decrease year over year. Fires accounted for 29% of all incidents, non fire incidents accounted for 31%, and the remaining 41% consisted of false alarms, which ‘continued to be the largest incident type’. There were also 247 fire related fatalities, compared to 344 in the previous period – which included the Grenfell Tower fire – marking a 28% decrease. Roy Wilsher, chair of the NFCC,

commented: ‘It is pleasing to see a reduction in both the number of incidents and fires attended by fire and rescue services. However it is important we do not become complacent about these figures; at the end of March 2018, the statistics were showing an increase in incidents for the year.

‘It is important we are looking at risks and are continuing to review and focus on these, while ensuring services are resourced to deal with these. It is vital that our communities have confidence in their emergency services to respond effectively. There are additional pressures on fire services which are likely to further increase. ‘These include recommendations set out in the independent Hackitt Review into Building Regulations and Fire Safety, and outcomes of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, which need to be appropriately funded. We have seen the number of full time firefighters reduce by 23 per cent since 2010/2011, which needs to be considered when future funding for fire services is being considered.’ DECEMBER 2018/JANUARY 2019 7

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