Westminster’s Conservative Councillors know that many people are concerned about the safety of residents living in high rise blocks. We have been very proactive since that fire and have ensured that Westminster Council has been in regular contact with residents to keep them informed and reassure them that their safety is of utmost importance.
There is just one estate - Little Venice - that has cladding with some similarities to Grenfell Tower. A panel has been tested by the Government and like everywhere else in the country, it did not pass. But it is important to note that the Little Venice cladding system is very different to Grenfell Tower. For example, the insulation is called ‘Rockwool’ which is non-flammable and made of ground stone.
Your Councillors have also been working with the London Fire Brigade (LFB) and they have completed their detailed inspections of all six of the tower blocks at Little Venice. They have confirmed that they are satisfied we are putting in place appropriate fire safety measures to mitigate the risks from fire and Westminster Council have written to residents to let them know.
We are confident the council’s buildings across Westminster are safe but Westminster Conservatives want to make them safer. Currently, building regulations are that new build flats over 30 metres should have sprinklers fitted. We announced that sprinklers will be fitted in all existing buildings above 30 metres managed by CityWest Homes across the city, which will typically be blocks of over 12 storeys, as well as evaluating the effectiveness of sprinkler systems in buildings below 12 storeys.
We will go further than the regulations in retro-fitting sprinklers in existing buildings at the same height across Westminster, as well as looking closely at all the issues regarding sprinkler installation.
CityWest Homes, which manages Westminster’s housing stock on behalf of the council, has a comprehensive programme of fire safety looking at more than 20 projects and we will keep you updated with progress. For example, there is a comprehensive review of signage and access points.
In addition, Westminster Council are introducing enhanced fire risk assessments for all blocks of 10 storeys or above. The Council are working closely with the LFB on this and are hoping to complete this work with them in the next fortnight. When the LFB report back, their findings will be shared and subsequent action plans of works that may need to be undertaken. We have ensured that the Council will provide residents in high-rise blocks with copies of the inspections when they are complete.