It has been confirmed that eleven of the twelve blocks on the Broadwater Farm Estate have failed structural tests carried out to see if the buildings would be able to withstand explosive force. These tests were undertaken following the events at Grenfell which led to the deaths of over 70 people.
While nine blocks need new heating systems to meet safety standards Tangmere (a six-storey block) needs to be evacuated by the end of October, when the gas heating system was scheduled to be turned on for the winter. The council has expressed a preference to demolish and rebuild the blocks. The Northolt tower does not need to be evacuated in the short term but will do at some point.
This is a huge upheaval and inconvenience for residents but their safety is our overriding concern and there could be no justification for leaving them in homes vulnerable to collapse.
There is no painless way to move hundreds of people at short notice. It will be a disruptive, stressful and anxious time for those who have to move. Haringey Council must do all it can to support the residents affected. They must be found appropriate alternative accommodation quickly and receive strong guarantees that – should they wish to – they will be able to return home once it is safe to do so. In addition, the council should interpret its policies toward residents in the most generous manner it possibly can given the unfortunate circumstances in which they have been placed.
The council should explore the option of bringing the estimated 800 empty homes in the borough into use, to alleviate the pressure on the council home waiting list which already stands at 9,000 families.
The Lib Dems are calling for an independent investigation into why these buildings have gone unchecked for so long. We cannot change history but we should not repeat it and there needs to be an understanding of the chain of decisions that led to this situation in order to avoid a similar scenario in the future.
Whilst the important action is taken on the unsafe blocks are Broadwater Farm, we are calling on Haringey Council to simultaneously carry out further extensive tests on all aspects of safety at every one of their blocks, irrespective of construction method. This should extend beyond the potential risks from fire and explosion, and we ask that the resulting reports are released to the public so that residents can feel confident that their homes are safe.
A review of the current ongoing testing schedule should be undertaken and council-owned buildings should be tested and reported on regularly so that plans can be made in a timely manner should any future risks present themselves.