The council’s history with fire safety – Lakanal and Ledbury being key examples of where it has gone terribly wrong – continues to drive its approach. It already goes above and beyond what is legally required in terms of routine fire safety work.
But the challenge of managing older buildings, many of which the local authority only took over decades after being constructed, means more problems could yet be uncovered.
One shocking case that has only just come to light is that of Marie Curie house in Sceaux Gardens, which has been discovered to have similar problems to those at Lakanal, where a blaze killed six people in 2009. Why the safety work Lakanal had didn’t take place on Marie Curie is now the subject of an independent review, with Cryan admitting ‘I don’t know why this [the safety works] weren’t done.”
The new Building Safety Bill, currently making its way through parliament, is a huge regulatory overhaul both in the construction and management of both high-rises and buildings seen to be at particular risk. This includes those where particularly vulnerable people are housed, such as care homes or sheltered housing.
Although none of the council’s towers have cladding now, the cost of extra surveys alone on the stock covered by the new law is expected to reach a staggering £18 million, says Cryan. This covers extensive surveys in all 172 council high-rises and around 70 other buildings that fall under the new legislation.