Haringey Council abandons defective fire survey of residents in 42 blocks

Big victory for residents on fire safety

Haringey Council is in the leading pack of housing providers in asking residents about adequate means of escape in emergency evacuations.

 

However, the Council has now abandoned its defective safety survey of residents in 42 high and mid rise blocks, including Newbury House and Finsbury House in Partridge Way, and John Keats and Thomas Hardy in Commerce Road.

In its door-knocking and online survey, the Council ‘forgot’ to remind people that the lifts cannot be used in the case of a fire evacuation.

 

Following tenant objections and letters to Councillors - and after an initial response which did not address the issues raised - they have had to change the plan.

 

Now they are going to do the survey all over again, and this time mention that the lifts cannot be used. That is the strict instruction to residents in the case of a fire evacuation, ‘do not use the lift’.

 

The council's turnaround was announced by Building Safety Manager Chris Gill at a stormy resident consultation meeting on Tuesday 26 March.

 

This is a big win for residents. There will be many more challenges in Haringey, in the struggle for safer homes as the Building Safety Act 2023 is implemented.

 

Haringey Council's “mistake” in forgetting about the lifts is part of a much wider problem.  Almost 7 years on since the Grenfell disaster, the government has sided with the housing industry in refusing to make it mandatory for the owners and managers of high rise residential buildings to provide personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPS) for disabled residents.

 

Their reasons have included suggesting that disabled people leaving a building might obstruct the escape of the able bodied.

 

The government also suggested that high leasehold charges to pay for PEEPs would create ill feeling against those who might benefit from them, as young and healthy people saw their bills rise to pay for measures to support the evacuation of disabled, elderly, or vulnerable residents.

 

Because of this, the government concluded that ‘mandating PEEPs as described in the consultation at this time could in fact have a detrimental effect on those with certain protected characteristics: in particular, disabled individuals, the elderly, and those who are less mobile due to pregnancy or maternity’.

 

So there is a lot more to do, to win safer homes from this government and from any future government.

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