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Changes to Barking and Dagenham tower blocks after fire safety failings found

PUBLISHED: 10:00 05 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:23 06 November 2017

Fire safety audits of four Barking and Dagenham tower blocks were conducted after the Grenfell Tower fire. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images

Fire safety audits of four Barking and Dagenham tower blocks were conducted after the Grenfell Tower fire. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

Poor fire safety conditions in four Barking and Dagenham tower blocks had placed resident’s safety at risk, independent reports conducted after the Grenfell Tower disaster found.

Safety measures had “deteriorated” since Mersea House and Colne House, both in Harts Lane, Barking, were refurbished six years ago, inspectors said.

“It is apparent that regular fire safety inspections are not being made,” they added.

Fire safety audits reported similar failings of broken fire doors, a lax attitude to safety checks and concerns over firestopping between residents’ flats and the lifts and lobbies at Dagenham’s Oldmead House, in Exeter Road, and Barletts House, Vicarage Road.

However Barking and Dagenham Council has confirmed all the identified risks have since been fixed and the blocks now have an overall risk rating of low.

The reports, based on inspections of each building’s communal spaces, were conducted the fortnight after the Grenfell Tower blaze in June.

Up to 80 people were killed when flames ravaged the north Kensington tower block, whose external Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding is believed to have helped the fire’s rapid spread.

Though the audits said the buildings’ cladding “may not comply with building regulations”, the buildings neither used ACM cladding nor posed a safety risk, Barking and Dagenham Council said.

Two buildings - Colne and Mersea - had narrowly avoided a risk rating of ‘substantial’; which would mean “urgent action” was needed to reduce safety threats.

A council spokesman said: “The law requires us to do fire risk assessments annually but since July we have taken an extra step of doing them every three months because the safety of our residents is a top priority.

“This means the blocks have a more up to date fire risk assessment, which can be found on our website..

Oldmead and Bartletts House is currently undergoing an “early modernisation” programme to replace both buildings’ cladding and insulation with “the most modern and up-to-date fire-resistant material available”.

The refurbishments are expected to last until spring next year.

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