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Exploiting Grenfell? Harlow Council housing boss blasts Tories over using fire safety for political gain

General / Sun 4th Apr 2021 at 03:51pm

THE FORMER leader of Harlow Council has blasted the local Tories over their approach to the on going issue of fire safety in Harlow tower blocks and flats.

Cllr Mark Wilkinson said: “I have been on this council for over twenty years and I have never been so appalled as I have been tonight regarding the literature put out by the Conservatives regarding fire safety.

“The tragedy at Grenfell started with an electrical fault. We as a council take safety issue very seriously, not just for council tenants but for everybody.

“This subjected is being kicked around like a political football by the Conservative group in this town”.

He made the comments at Thursday nights full council meeting.

He was responding to the following question.

Councillor Michael Hardware to Councillor Mark Wilkinson (Portfolio Holder for Housing):

“ON what basis or under what legislation the council is writing to the 2,500 owners of leasehold properties in Harlow, where the council owns the freehold, seeking copies of gas and electricity safety certificates? There have been numerous mentions of this on social media, direct complaints to councillors and, I understand, complaints to the council.

Reply from Councillor Mark Wilkinson (Portfolio Holder for Housing):

“The statutory basis for requesting this information is detailed in relevant “Fire Safety Orders” which require us as a landlord /owner of freehold property to continuously assess the risk factors/ hazards which may affect fire safety in its properties.

“Risk assessments are regularly reviewed and prioritised as part of this requirement with the letter recently sent, a reminder for all leaseholders and those who sublet homes of their lease /safety responsibilities. There isa lease requirement to maintain their property in a safe manner, and risk assessments update our approaches. Importantly, this will provide added security to other residents in the block as well as proof that these potential lifesaving inspections have been carried out.

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“So far there has been a positive response with the majority of this information readily available. However, the Council recognises that for some this may prove difficult in arranging and being in a position for producing
certificates and that some leaseholders will need longer to arrange inspections. Support and further information is being provided to leaseholders who have contacted us about this issue”.

The full discussion can be followed from the 25th minute of the film below.

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