Grenfell Tower fire

Grenfell tests begin at Hammersmith and Fulham estate

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Lynsey Creaser
Local Democracy Reporting Service
Lynsey Creaser grew up on the Edward Woods estate

Tests for contaminants from the Grenfell Tower fire are under way at one of Hammersmith and Fulham council’s largest housing estates.

The council has commissioned RPS Consulting to do the survey at the Edward Woods estate.

Experts are getting ready to take soil samples at the estate – the closest part is just over half a mile away from the tower.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council says some exploratory work has already been done and experts have walked over the area. Tests on soil samples will get under way this month.

Ward councillor Andrew Jones said he was obviously concerned following the fire and the council plans to discuss the findings with residents in June.

The council commissioned RPS Consulting to carry out tests following a report by fire toxicology expert Professor Anna Stec.

She discovered high levels of contaminants which could cause cancer and respiratory illnesses including asthma at test sites close to the tower.

Ward councillor Andrew Jones said he was obviously concerned following the Stec report. He said : “We plan to discuss the findings with residents in June.”

The government has already appointed AECOM to do independent tests at sites around the tower.

Their tests in Kensington and Chelsea borough will be overseen by a scientific advisory group chaired by the government’s chief scientific officer, Patrick Vallance.

Initial results from those tests will be shared with the North Kensington community next month before a second stage of tests, if needed, get under way.

Lynsey Creaser who grew up on the estate said she was worried about the debris which came off the tower.

“It did look like metally stuff. They did say that some of the things might not be good for people to breathe in,” she said.

Paul Graham who has lived on the estate for 20 years said he was "not particularly worried", but added: “I suffer from asthma. I do not want to have any contamination.”

Hammersmith and Fulham council said it “takes very seriously the concerns of residents about the potential impact on their health and land of the Grenfell Tower fire.”

A spokesman said: “The government is leading an environmental monitoring programme and we await information to determine what further action may be necessary. “We’ve also decided to seek our own expert advice in the meantime.”

The council has also set aside £20m for new fire doors and other safety measures.

Compensation for Oxford council over cladding work

Oxford City Council has received £1.1m in compensation from the government for work that had to be carried out in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Cladding on the council’s Evenlode and Windrush Towers in Blackbird Leys was removed and replaced last summer.

The council says it was instructed to replace the aluminium sheeting on the outside of the buildings after tests found it was combustible.

The cladding had only been installed months before it was taken down because of safety fears.

Windrush Tower
BBC
Government to foot £200m bill to replace Grenfell-type cladding on private flats
The £200m bill to replace Grenfell Tower-type cladding on about 150 private high-rise blocks in England will be met by the government, not the owners.
Dangerous cladding: 'The stress is insurmountable for us'
A leaseholder in a block with unsafe cladding talks about the stress of living in the building.

Grenfell Tower: Government to pay £200m for safer cladding

Grenfell banner
PA

The government is to cover the £200m bill of replacing Grenfell Tower-type cladding on more than 150 private tower blocks with a safer alternative.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire has previously said the bill should be footed by the owners, not the taxpayer.

But he acknowledged the long wait for remedial work to be carried out had caused anxiety and strain for people living in those high rises.

He said owners had been trying to offload the costs onto leaseholders.

More on this story

Grenfell residents call for their voices to be heard

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Grenfell Tower
PA

Bereaved families who lost relatives in the Grenfell disaster say they are frustrated and want their voices heard to ensure "lasting change" in the way people are helped after disasters.

They are critical of government delays in acting to outlaw potentially flammable cladding from tower blocks and said the initial response to the fire was “disastrous”.

They are also frustrated that despite their campaigning, a decision-making panel has not yet been appointed and want it set up before the next stage of the inquiry.

Theresa May announced plans for a panel last year but bereaved families say they have seen little progress.

One of them said it was essential as: “I think a panel can bring more diversity and empathy”.

The criticisms come in a Family Reflections on Grenfell: No Voice Left Unheard report by independent charity INQUEST, which spoke to 55 families out of the 72 people who died.

It is the first time bereaved families came together to reflect on their experiences for a report like this.

INQUEST director, Deb Coles, said: “What comes across is the defiance and dignity of a grieving community.”

Grenfell United, the bereaved families and survivors group welcomed the report, calling it "a compelling piece of work we hope will contribute to much needed and lasting change to how we deal with disasters and disaster management."

A spokesman from Kensington and Chelsea council said: “We fully accept that the leadership of the council was not able to cope with enormity and the scale of this national disaster at our doorsteps in the hours and days after the fire."

”In recent months, we believe we have worked with the families to put in place a service that has been designed with them,” he said

A Grenfell Inquiry spokeswoman said it was always a priority to make it “as accessible as possible” and made changes following feedback.

She said staff also hold regular meetings with core participants, their legal representatives, local residents associations and other representative groups as well as publishing information on its website.