Trafford Housing Trust

Trafford Housing Trust Media Statement - 7th July 2017

07 July 2017

Like every other housing association across the UK, Trafford Housing Trust has been shocked and saddened by the tragic events at Grenfell Tower. Since that date, all our efforts have been focussed on checking the safety of our tower blocks and making sure that every customer in every home is safe. We have informed our customers of the actions we are taking to make sure their homes and buildings are safe, and have worked hard to give peace of mind during a time when some customers may be feeling concerned.

It is therefore important for the Trust to address some issues that have not been represented accurately in the public domain, and which could therefore be misleading for our customers. These issues relate to one particular tower block, Stretford House.

Firstly, the subject of Fire Risk Assessments (FRA). It is the Trust’s policy to conduct FRAs on an annual basis for our tower blocks. In line with this policy, each of our eight towers was inspected in 2016, with the next annual inspections about to commence. FRA results are categorised into A, B and C findings based on the level of risk attached to the finding. It has been suggested that we did not address the findings from our 2016 FRA inspections until after the Grenfell Tower tragedy. This is inaccurate. Actions to remedy FRA findings commence as soon as possible after a FRA inspection and the Trust can confirm that every category ‘A’ and ‘B’ action has been completed on all eight tower blocks. Only category ‘C’ recommendations remain. These are recommendations which present the lowest level of risk and are defined as ‘matters that should be addressed as good practice, but that do not constitute any threat to occupants.’ They are ‘long term actions, that should be implemented as and when the opportunity arises’, however we are addressing all outstanding actions immediately.

A further issue relates to the level of Fire Risk Assessment undertaken. Like many other housing associations, Trafford Housing Trust has in the past instructed Assessments at Levels 1, 2 or 3. Level 4 is the most detailed level of assessment available, which goes beyond the communal areas of the building and into individual customer homes. Immediately following the events at Grenfell Tower, we commenced organising Level 4 assessments for each of our towers. Only five of our eight towers have cladding, and on these buildings just 15% of the surface area has the cladding on. However, we are committed to reassuring customers of their safety in their homes, and have therefore taken the decision to complete Level 4 assessments on every building.

The tower in question has been labelled a ‘death trap’. The 2016 Fire Risk Assessment for this building found the risk of fire to be Moderate, which is the third of five levels of risk. The Greater Manchester Fire Service have inspected this building within the last two weeks and are satisfied with the actions we are taking to be absolutely sure of its safety. We therefore do not agree with the suggestion that this building is a death trap, and are concerned by the effect such terms may have on the other customers who live there.

It has also been suggested that the Trust has either been unable to, or chosen not to, provide evidence of necessary fire safety documentation and certification. We have not withheld any information that has been requested of us, and in the case of our fire safety certifications, they have been made available on our customer noticeboards.

Work is already underway to remedy any potential issues with fire safety in our buildings. We have visited 500 homes across our tower blocks to make sure we have up to date information on our customers including any extra help they may require from us, and to answer any specific questions they may having regarding our current Fire Safety actions. We are in also in frequent communication with customers via letters, social media and from next week, drop-in sessions. We are setting up a High Rise Residents Group that will consider all aspects of high rise living including safety, management arrangements and matters such as lettings and improvement works. This new group will ensure that the voice of people living in tower blocks continues to be heard and acted upon by the Trust.

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