Fire safety on the Ledbury Estate
FAQs - all residents
The major works
Why was the gas turned off? Are we safe?
After Grenfell, Southwark Council held a public meeting where a resident of the Ledbury towers raised an issue about cracks in their flat, and expressed concerns that these might breach the compartmentation of the building. We immediately asked the LFB to inspect the blocks, and on their advice installed 24 hour wardens and advised residents that in the event of a fire they should evacuate rather than stay put. We are in the process of installing communal alarms to reduce the number of wardens required.
Over many years cracks had been reported to us, but they only made up a very small proportion of the overall repair requests on the Ledbury, and were fixed on a case by case basis. The very first mention of the gas and potential issues relating to the specific Large Panel System structure of the blocks was at a public meeting at the Ledbury on Tuesday 11 July. We agreed to investigate and immediately commissioned Arup to look into this matter as part of their wider structural investigations at the block (there were originally commissioned to look into cracks reported to us at an earlier public meeting).
Arup conducted their investigation as we asked, and we received a letter, emailed to us on Thursday 10 August, stating that they hadn’t found evidence of the strengthening they would have expected to find.
We immediately took the decision to turn off the gas. Because we have taken this measure, completed repairs on known cracks and put in fire wardens, we have made the blocks as safe as possible while further investigation is being carried out by Arup into the strengthening required to the blocks. The installation of the new automated fire alarm will mean that the number of fire wardens will reduce, however two will remain in each block as agreed with the London Fire Brigade until any further works identified in the Arup report are completed to ensure safety.
When will heating be back on?
A new district heating system will be installed by mid/late October to supply heating to all the properties. New communal boilers were installed between 4 October, 2017 and 7 October, 2017. The installation of the new heating units in the individual flats started on Saturday 7 October 2017 and is due for completion by Saturday 14 October 2017.
Residents have been advised of the dates. Please note that we will not force entry if you are not in but will not be able to fit the new heating unit.
Will the new heating system boilers be noisy and smelly?
The new system will initially be fuelled by oil until we can install a new external gas supply. The boilers are not unduly noisy, but there is likely to be some smell of oil particularly when the boilers are refuelled.
Who do we speak to if appointments aren’t kept, we have a repair issue or we are unhappy with the way work is being carried out?
Missed appointments and concerns can be reported directly to the contractor or council staff, who are based in the TRA Hall on the estate. Residents will be entitled to compensation for any missed appointments at a rate of £50 per missed appointment. If the £50 does not cover your loss of earnings and you would like to claim for loss of earnings for a missed appointment because you have had to take time off work, please come in and discuss this with the council staff on the estate. Documentary evidence will be required to verify the lost earnings.
Repairs: Any issues relating to the ongoing works on site can be reported to the site office or to the Residents Team at the TRA Hall. Any repairs not relating to the ongoing works so for example a leaky toilet or blocked sink should be reported directly to the resident services team in the Ledbury TRA Hall.
What provision are the council and contractors taking to ensure that unnecessary forced entries do not happen?
The council already has a team of Resident Service Officers (RSOs) on the estate who are attempting to contact every resident to advise them of the need to provide access.
A letter will be issued to all residents informing them of the days that work needs to be carried out in their property. Now that the new district heating system has been installed the council does not need access to all homes simultaneously so the council will not need, forced entries in the future.
However statutory services such as SGN may do. We have asked them to work with us so that they only undertake forced entry as a last resort,.
What will happen if we have to move out for major works in the future?
Until we receive the Arup report at the end of November we do not know the scale of any future works but we are doing everything within our power to make sure people can stay in their homes. If we do need to move people out of the blocks while work takes place we have 100% guaranteed that people will have the right to return to their homes when the work is completed.
Can we move out of the Ledbury towers?
Tenants in the four towers – Skenfrith, Sarnsfield, Peterchurch and Bromyard - have been put into Band One for Housing Options if they wish to move into a new property permanently and 168 residents have registered to be added to the Homesearch scheme.
Why do we have to bid with everyone else?
The council’s Housing Service works on a choice-based letting system so tenants have a say in where they are housed. Band 1 gives you the highest priority and allows you some choice in where you go.
Can I get compensation on my rent for the time I’ve been without heating and hot water?
We wrote to residents at the end of August with a compensation cheque for £200 and a promise that we would also pay £20 a week (paid monthly) for the period that there is no heating.
We are also paying a ‘cost of moving’ one-off allowance to residents who move out of the Ledbury towers into another council or housing association property. If you moved before October 1, 2017 the amount is £5,800. If you moved after October 1, 2016 the amount is £6,100. This is paid when the new tenancy is signed.
We have heard that the Livesey Exchange has been offered an alternative site and will be moving off the Ledbury Estate. Is this true? If so, why have the Livesey been encouraged to leave the Ledbury?
The council has asked Livesey Exchange to hold off on their work for now until the project can be worked into any wider plans for the estate once the Arup report is received in November.
The Livesey Exchange understands the reasoning behind this and has agreed.
In the meantime, council officers are looking at other nearby places the project might be able to use on a temporary basis to prevent any delay to the project starting.
Page last updated: 20 September 2018