More questions asked about Hatfield tower block safety

Left: Queensway House in Hatfield. Right: Yesterday's full council meeting.

Left: Queensway House in Hatfield. Right: Yesterday's full council meeting. - Credit: Archant

Welwyn Hatfield borough councillors have continued to ask questions about the safety of cladding on Hatfield’s Queensway House and whether a sprinkler system will be installed.

Queensway House.

Queensway House. - Credit: Archant

Following the Grenfell tragedy last month, Welwyn Hatfield Council sent off segments of cladding from Queensway House high-rise building for testing.

In 2012 the tower block underwent refurbishment during which cladding had been installed.

At a full council meeting last night, councillor John Fitzpatrick asked: “Following the tragedy of the Grenfell Fire in London, this council issued a statement to the public stating that the cladding on Queensway House in Hatfield was not the same as that used on Grenfell.

“There was a very strong implication that the cladding was therefore safe.

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“What changed to require the cladding to be tested on June 26?”

Leader of the council, councillor John Dean answered: “In the immediate aftermath of the most terrible fire at Grenfell Tower, the government issued an instruction for local authorities and housing associations to identify whether the cladding used in their own tower blocks was the same product as used in Grenfell Tower, and details of the manufacturer were duly released.

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“Where the same product was used, landlords were instructed to inform Department for Communities and Local Government immediately.

“The council established that the cladding system at Queensway House was not the same and this was validated by the contractor, Mulalley, who installed the cladding in 2012.

“The council issued a statement to this effect.

“In keeping with the council’s desire from the outset to take the most robust approach possible, and to be transparent and accountable, samples of the three types of cladding used on Queensway House were in fact sent for testing on June 29, 2017. “Confirmation was received last Friday in an email from DCLG that the submitted panels are not ACM cladding (Aluminium Composite Material) and therefore would not be tested.

“The Council has kept everyone informed at all stages of this process, and this has included a number of letter drops to Queensway House residents.

“The letter drops have given up-to-date information to residents and provided contact details should they wish to speak to council officers.”

Councillor Dean added: “The council will do everything in its power to make our residents as safe as we possibly can.”

Continuing the discussion of Queensway House, councillor Malcolm Cowan asked: “Will the leader give the council the latest situation on fire and associated issues at Queensway House, in particular, if he will be recommending that the council install a sprinkler system throughout?”

Councillor Mandy Perkins answered: “A meeting with council officers and senior fire safety inspectors from Hertfordshire Fire Service took place on Thursday, June 29, which made suggestions in respect of some remedial items.

“These are being amalgamated into the existing fire risk assessments action plan which is being implemented.

“Council officers met again with senior Hertfordshire Fire Service officers at Queensway House on July 6, to further discuss a range of fire protection measures.

“Following this, we will be providing them with a report confirming the level of fire resistance of certain aspects on the building construction.

“We will continue to work collaboratively with the fire service in respect of any works required – and this may include sprinkler systems.

“It is expected that general recommendations in respect of fire safety in residential tower blocks will be made by the government both in the short term and following the findings of the public enquiry.

“We will of course act on any recommendations that follow.

“Members and residents will be kept fully informed on progress.”

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