A statement by Cllr Mark Bee regarding St Peters Court, Lowestoft:
"Following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in London, Waveney District Council has proactively instigated a range of activities and inspections relating to its single residential tower block, St Peters Court in Lowestoft, to reassure residents about the safety of the accommodation.
"A joint reassurance exercise involving Waveney housing and building control officers, in partnership with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, took place a week after the fire in London and, as part of a Suffolk-wide inspection programme in the wake of Grenfell Tower, we requested that a new and more intrusive independent Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) take place in July – with representatives from Suffolk Fire and Rescue, Building Control and Housing teams all present.
"We are also delighted to have agreed the installation of a whole building sprinkler system at the cost of £200,000 which will provide an extra level of reassurance for people who live in St Peters Court. In light of events at Grenfell Tower we are aware of the anxiety that this event caused which is why this decision was taken and not because of any specific, imminent safety concerns relating to the building.
"The final report following the Fire Risk Assessment, which we received last month, provided a very clear analysis of the work that we have done to date and what still needed to be achieved. The detail contained within the report did not come as a surprise, given the age and nature of the building and while terminology used in FRAs is often blunt, it simply reflected the work that needed to be undertaken at all times to maintain standards. There are always concerns and issues about safety in any building, no matter how large or small; old or new and the concerns noted were entirely consistent with a building of this age and which is used for this purpose.
"We do not take these ratings lightly; however the specific detail contained within both the 2015 and 2017 reports, shows that the issues raised were manageable, actionable and either have been, or are being, resolved. The assessment also reports on a number of positive measures which have been implemented.
"Within the 2017 report, an action plan was created by the assessor to pinpoint the specific concerns which had led to the rating received for St Peters Court. There were nine individual recommendations and, of those, four have been addressed already with new signage in place, a fire engineer visit undertaken and a regular assessment regime established. A recommendation to manage all test and maintenance certificates was already in place.
"Two actions – to install further smoke detectors and a shutter system in the refuse chute will be completed within the next fortnight and work is underway on the purchase and installation of a full sprinkler system (which had already been agreed prior to the report). Work will be undertaken to complete the final recommendation, to reinstate ground floor double doors, next year.
"Our number one priority is resident safety and in light of recent events we commissioned this assessment to provide clear and rigorous scrutiny of the progress being made and the steps we are taking to ensure that St Peters Court meets the highest possible safety standards. The Fire Service also undertook their own assessment of the building’s safety measures at the same time and at no stage, on the day or subsequently, did they express any broad concerns about tenant safety which would require any enforcement action or suggest any imminent danger.
"By their very nature, fire risks assessments are always extremely cautious and this is even more the case in the aftermath of Grenfell Tower. We would expect nothing less, however we do not have any current concerns about the impact on resident safety and the progress of our action plan shows that there are no issues which cannot or will not be resolved in the short term."