An extensive review of all KCC buildings, begun immediately after the Grenfell Towers tragedy on 13 June, has so far revealed no serious concerns about the cladding on any premises.
The primary focus of the survey was to:
- Identify the possible presence of Aluminium Composite Material cladding (ACM) as used on Grenfell Tower with samples taken in line with government guidance;
- Review and gain assurance for building users around the management of fire safety on all KCC sites.
KCC holds the freehold of two high rise residential blocks in Maidstone, and building inspections have confirmed that ACM cladding has not been used there.
Fire safety responsibility for these two high rise buildings lies with two housing associations and no further testing is required at this stage. However, Kent Fire and Rescue are scheduling a fire safety visit to provide reassurance in line with its programme to visit all high rise buildings.
Through its audit and checking process of more than 1,000 properties, including schools, KCC is now arranging further inspections for a small number of sites where to date investigations have been able to positively confirm the cladding type. As part of the fire safety review KCC is also confirming that appropriate fire risk assessments and fire safety measures are in place to provide reassurance to everyone using the buildings.
KCC continues to work in collaboration with government departments and Kent Fire and Rescue Services and has responded to all requests for information.
Eric Hotson, KCC’s Cabinet member for Strategic and Corporate Services (pictured), said the council’s actions to satisfy safety concerns following the Grenfell Tower tragedy had been “significant”.
He told members of the Scrutiny Committee that a team of 25 staff had been working on the issue as KCC carried out assessments. It was a challenging task, he said, but he was impressed that the work had moved ahead “at a pace”.
“This is an on-going process and there will be further reports. At this moment of time, I can give an assurance that everything is being done and that there are no ‘red alerts.’”
Karen Ripley, who is heading the council’s investigation team, provided an overview of the operation and said: “As yet, we have not discovered any of the material containing aluminium.”
She told the committee that 155 sites – some with several buildings – had been identified as having cladding of some kind but visits had not been confined to these.
Flavio Walker, KCC’s Head of Health and Safety, said Kent County Council had a good record of effective fire safety management and his team was working closely with the council’s property teams and Kent Fire and Rescue.
Christy Holden, the Head of Strategic Commissioning for KCC Adult Social Care, reassured the committee that all contracts relating to care homes services included requirements for appropriate fire protection and KCC was in contact with care service providers to ensure ongoing compliance.
The webcast of the Scrutiny Committee meeting can be viewed here: