12 Days Remaining

Monday 14th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

by Felicity Collier and Bethany Rielly

RESIDENTS facing an emergency evacuation from their high-rise homes in south-east London said yesterday that their safety concerns had been “ignored for decades.”

A total of 242 homes in four towers in Peckham may be unsafe, according to an investigation and gas supplies were cut to all blocks on the Ledbury estate on Thursday after the buildings failed gas checks.

People living in the Peterchurch, Bromyard, Skenfirth and Sarnsfield blocks have been instructed to move out to temporary accommodation within “the next few weeks” and told to shower at a nearby leisure centre.

Hannan Majid, who lives on the 12th floor of Bromyard, said the building was riddled with cracks “large enough to drop books through.”
He added: “There’s draughts and if someone’s smoking it comes right through. What does that mean for ‘compartmentalisation’ if the building catches fire?

“The council said the cracks are normal but this is not normal. People have been complaining and ignored about this for decades.”
Structural engineers Arup were brought in initally to investigate the cracks after residents expressed concerns following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Residents feared the cracks could allow a fire to spread from flat to flat.
However, an independent surveyor, who went to look at the building on request of worried tenants, spotted parallel problems relating to the gas supply.

The Ledbury blocks were built in a similar way to the Ronan Point estate in Newham, which partially collapsed in 1968 due to a small gas explosion, killing four people and injuring 17.

Southwark Council claimed that the buildings had been reinforced after the disaster but the investigation by Arup shows that the works may not have occured at all — meaning tenants have been living in a potentially unsafe building for the past 40 years.

Housing consultant Tony Bird told the Star that the potential dangers of gas in the buildings were only investigated after he and the independent surveyor Arnold Tarling brought it up at a public meeting with the council last month.

He also claimed that tenants were pushed to call in surveyors because the council had been refusing to acknowledge the breadth of the problems.

“The investigation only happened because tenants took action,” Mr Bird said, slamming the council for previously giving tenants assurances that the buildings were safe “based on no expertise in housing.”

The council said it is looking to install single electric water heaters in every flat to replace gas supplies.