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26 June 2017

CHC's latest statement on Grenfell Tower fire - 26th June

CHC has been working closely with members and Welsh Government to ensure tenants’ safety in the days and weeks following the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower in London.

Stuart Ropke, Chief Executive, said:

“It is difficult to imagine the impact that the horrific fire in Grenfell Tower has had on residents and the loved ones of those who lost their lives. CHC is working with members to ensure that every step is being taken to prevent anything similar happening in Wales and to reassure tenants.

We have been working very closely with our members and Welsh Government to gather information on our members’ stock. We can confirm that no tower block owned by a Welsh housing association has been fitted with the type of cladding used in Grenfell Tower. We are also encouraging members to use the Welsh Government’s testing service for all tower block cladding to ensure that it passes fire safety tests.

CHC also welcomes the inquiry being held by the Assembly’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee into fire safety in tower blocks. We will be providing evidence, alongside our members, to ensure that committee members have all the information they need to make any necessary recommendations to Welsh Government on fire safety in high rises.

The sector’s first priority is its tenants. We will continue to work closely with our members, Welsh Government and the Assembly inquiry over the coming weeks and months to provide further reassurance and to make sure tenants are safe.”

Response from Welsh Government

Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, Carl Sargeant, has made a statement on the response of Welsh Government to the fire.

“Between all residential social landlords in Wales, they own 36 blocks of flats of seven or more storeys.

Social landlords have told us none of those appear to have been fitted with the type of cladding used in the Grenfell Tower. Seven blocks in Wales have been retro-fitted with sprinklers – and of course where any new or converted blocks are developed here, under the changes introduced as part of the Domestic Fire Safety Measure (Wales) 2011, they would be required to include sprinklers. The requirements were introduced for flats and houses on 1 January 2016.

Installing sprinklers in new housing and as part of refurbishment programmes, which some Welsh councils and housing associations have already done, will go a long way towards minimising the risk of death and injury from fire.

I hope this gives some immediate reassurance to the residents of those premises.”

The Cabinet Secretary also announced the formation of an expert group looking at the lessons to be learned from the Grenfell Tower fire. The group, which will include representatives from the social housing sector and fire & rescue services, is to be chaired by the Welsh Government’s Chief Fire Adviser, Des Tidbury.

CHC is in close contact with Welsh Government, continuing to provide information and facilitating timely communication with members.

Assembly Inquiry

The Assembly’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee will hold an inquiry into fire safety in tower blocks on 13th July. The Committee will hear evidence from a number of stakeholders including CHC and our members.

The Inquiry will be considering the following areas:

  • The current fire safety requirements and existing measures currently in place in Welsh tower blocks
  • Any additional fire safety regulations that may be required in Wales for tower blocks
  • Whether current fire safety guidance to residents in tower blocks is appropriate
  • How Welsh tower block residents are receiving information and reassurance around fire safety following the Grenfell Tower fire.

Communicating your actions

CHC members have been working closely with their local AMs, MPs and councillors to provide reassurance that they are working closely with tenants. Members can find their local AM’s details here: http://senedd.assembly.wales/mgFindMember.aspx

Also, Gary Colston from Merthyr Valleys Homes recently toured St Tydfil’s Court, an eleven storey block in Merthyr Tydfil, with BBC Radio Wales and a fire safety consultant. You can listen to the interview here, starting at 1:24:44. St Tydfil’s Court was also featured on ITV Wales’ evening news programme.

Stay in touch

Please contact us if you have any questions about our response to the Grenfell Tower fire.