LAMBETH COUNCIL – THE GLOVES COME OFF:
TORY OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS FOR INQUIRY INTO COUNCIL’S HOUSING MANAGEMENT
“RESIDENTS TREATED WITH CONTEMPT”
“TENANTS BEING CHARGED £44,000 FOR REPAIRS AFTER BEING TOLD BILL WOULD BE £7,000”
“WORST ROGUE LANDLORD IN LAMBETH IS LAMBETH COUNCIL”
The gloves have finally come off in what is set to be the biggest political punch-up in Lambeth council in years.
Conservative opposition leader Cllr Tim Briggs, in an open letter to Lambeth council’s chief executive Sean Harriss, is calling for a formal independent investigation into Lambeth housing management and related issues.
He says lives are being endangered because of the lack of proper fire risk assessments – but it is at the end of his letter where he really vents his ire.
“These failings, coupled with recent allegations of the bullying of residents’ representatives by Labour councillors; emails showing residents about to have their homes demolished being treated with contempt; phone masts being put on top of people’s homes without them being consulted; or tenants being charged £44,000 for major works quoted six months previously at £7,000 – all leave a sorry, constant message: that the worst rogue landlord in Lambeth is Lambeth council.”
In his letter Cllr Briggs says: “A recent report by Internal Audit and Fraud presented to the corporate committee on 29th September 2016 shows that of a sample of 23 buildings assessed by council audit officers, 12 did not have up-to-date fire risk assessments, rating Lambeth’s failure as ‘critical’. Seven of those 12 had not been assessed for more than three years.
“If that sample percentage is applied across Lambeth, then more than half of the buildings managed by the council are unsafe.
“The lack of proper fire risk assessments places residents at an increased risk of death, and these assessments need to be done urgently to avoid ending up with another tragedy.
“The chaos at the council under Labour is now risking the lives of our loved ones. “We cannot let this go on.
“I am therefore asking that a formal independent investigation be set up to allow these issues around housing management to be properly investigated.
“The time has come to discover why and how the kind of poor management that puts lives at risk is being allowed to continue, in order that parties from all political traditions can learn from its findings and start to create a council that is truly representative of residents.
“I am happy to discuss any suggestions, and I look forward to your reply.”
“COUNCIL COULD BE FINED AND SUFFER REPUTATIONAL DAMAGE SHOULD A FIRE BREAK OUT” – SAYS THEIR OWN REPORT
The report to the corporate committee meeting on September 29th includes the following:
B) Fire risk assessment and remediation of issues arising: Completion of risk assessments (Critical): 12/23 structures did not have up-to-date fire risk assessments; 7/12 were due to be updated over three years ago. The schedule of properties requiring fire risk assessments is also incomplete. This may lead to the council being fined and suffering reputational damage should a fire breakout and potential loss of life if fire risk assessments are not kept up to date.
The following actions have been agreed with management (target completion date: 30/11/16): Housing Management currently has a database of all structures for FRA and this is stored on· SharePoint. An urgent review of this information will take place to verify the number of FRA that are out of date. An audit of the FRA re inspection programme will take place. There is a backlog of the FRA reassessments at the moment of 280 and new consultants were appointed in June 2016 to manage the backlog.
We have also appointed two agency FRA inspectors to progress ongoing inspections. We are completing 40 per week and the backlog of re-inspections will be cleared by the end of November 2016. Completion of remedial works specified by risk assessments (High):
There is no programme of reinspections to ensure remedial works address issues identified and we could not be provided with evidence that remedial works required as a result of fire risk assessments had been completed. This could lead to fire risks not being promptly addressed or mitigations put in place may not be sufficient to address risks identified.
The following actions have been agreed with management (target completion date: immediate): The fire risk team will work more closely with area housing teams to ensure that works orders are raised and completed for remedial works identified by fire risk assessments. All re-inspections are recorded and stored on SharePoint. In order to confirm that issues have been resolved we will record works order numbers against the FRA.
A Lambeth council spokesman told News From Crystal Palace: “All fire risk assessment re-inspections have now been completed.
“Internal audits are extremely important in highlighting various issues that require immediate action, and we take them very seriously.
“We have worked hard to address the issues raised in September’s report. “This has included a programme of independently conducted fire risk assessments undertaken at a rate of 40 per week.
“The councillor’s letter has been noted and we will respond to him directly.”