Agenda item

Update on Incident at Lionel Oxley House


The Assistant Director of Housing introduced the report and stated that it followed on from the urgent item of business raised at the last Housing O&S Committee. She stated that the report outlined the cause of the fire and the actions taken by UK Fire Networks; the regime inspections and maintenance; the reflective learning sessions undertaken by officers; and the meetings held with residents. She explained that UK Fire Networks had checked the site and other high rises to determine any further actions. She added that officers had also developed key themes during the lessons learnt sessions and from these had worked to improve communications and rewrite emergency planning procedures. She explained that the emergency planning procedures were now clearer, and highlighted that the Communications team would take a lead on communications for all significant incidents. She added that officers had also spread awareness of the command levels, and the out of hours rota was now stored in one place online, so all officers could access it if required.

The Assistant Director of Housing explained that officers had confirmed with hotels in the borough that if residents were evacuated to their hotels, the Council would cover the cost of their meals, and company credit cards had been issued to some officers to facilitate this in case of emergency. She added that officers had also mapped out a variety of welfare sites in the borough and had updated the system for out of hour’s calls. She stated that the team had received detailed feedback from residents, either through door-knocking, phone calls, or during the two focus sessions. She stated that a letter would be sent to high-rise residents this week that would invite them to sessions being run by the building safety manager that would cover safety and emergency procedures. She stated that officers had taken on board comments from residents, for example residents had wished officers to be more visible on scene, so officers would now wear hi-vis when visiting an incident.

Councillor Redsell thanked officers for their hard work on the report and felt that lessons had been learnt from the incident. She also felt pleased that Councillors had been given emergency numbers during Storm Dudley, which had ensured that issues in their ward such as fallen trees were resolved quickly. Councillor Redsell also felt that the Council should increase the level of communication during an incident. The Chair asked why residents had been informed that locks would be taken off the washroom doors. She stated that residents were concerned for the security of their washing if the doors were not locked, and some residents may start to dry clothes in their own homes, which could increase incidences of damp and mould. She felt that the washroom locks should remain as firefighters were able to get into any room when necessary. Councillor Fletcher felt that communications during a crisis had to be different from normal communications, and felt that the Leader, Portfolio Holder and Ward Councillors should have been made aware early on of the fire at Lionel Oxley House. He felt that communications should be utilised more effectively and efficiently.

The Committee agreed an additional recommendation that read “Ward Councillors, the relevant Portfolio Holder, and directly responsible officers should be made aware of any serious incidents within their ward/remit.”

RESOLVED: That the Committee:

1. Commented on the detail contained within the report relating to the incident.

2. Ward Councillors, the relevant Portfolio Holder, and directly responsible officers should be made aware of any serious incidents within their ward/remit.

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