16 March 2012
The Lakanal fire of 2009 shocked the whole community - six lives lost, including an eleven-month-old baby, and harrowing tales of families looking on in horror, knowing their loved ones were trapped in the Camberwell tower block.
The council was then hit with the daunting task of assessing all of its high rises around the borough, and of finding the funding that would ensure they were all up the required safety standard - and that such a disaster could not happen again.
Much work has been carried out since that awful day two and a half years ago, yet from the report we publish today, there is clearly still much to do. Twenty tower blocks out of 208 originally inspected are still at ‘substantial’ risk of fire, with work spiralling millions of pounds over budget and months over deadline.
This is made up of thirteen that should have been finished last summer, and seven due to be completed this month - but which will also overrun.
And while the works were initially expected to cost £10m, the total figure is now likely to rise to £35.6m. The cost is considerable - particularly at a time of cuts and recession - and we have some sympathy with the current administration as it tries to find such a large sum of money.
But of course, in the balance of things, safety has to come first, and the cost surely has to be a secondary consideration. The work should be completed quickly - as no one should have to live in a tower block, fearing that they may experience the horrors of those who lived in Lakanal. If it was you living in one of these unsafe towers, would you sleep soundly at night? Probably not.
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