Four years have passed since the tragedy at Grenfell Tower where 72 innocent people lost their lives.
While there are many things we have learnt from the fire, something that stands out is housing providers’ commitment to keeping residents safe.
Since the fire, Plymouth Community Homes have strengthened our fire safety measures - we have continued to carry out risk assessments across all our tall buildings, we continue to check our fire doors and ensure our mains-wired alarm systems are maintained, all in close liaison with our partners in the Fire Service.
Following the discovery that the Mount Wise Towers was covered with ACM cladding, we began a flagship project, which was one of the first of its kind in the UK following revised building safety advice.
Following Government advice on cladding, we installed heat detectors and 24-hour Fire Wardens at the Towers and to further strengthen fire safety, we installed a sprinkler system while we worked to find a positive solution to replace the cladding.
The housing sector responded well to an ever-changing picture coming to terms with what was in the draft Building Safety Bill and I am pleased to say that we were proactive in deciding that the safest solution was to install External Wall Insulation (EWI) on the Towers which has the highest fire-safety rating.
This meant we could carry out the works to replace the cladding at Mount Wise sooner rather than later.
It’s been a challenging and complex project, that has been underway for almost three years, and I want to thank Towers residents and the local community for their support, understanding and patience.
We are now on the home-straight of the Towers works and the scaffolding began to come down earlier this year, as the final coatings of the EWI were completed.
We expect the cladding replacement project to be finished this summer and are looking forward to marking the occasion with the Towers residents, who have supported us throughout the works.
We believe strongly that the services we provide should be with the support and input of local residents and the communities we serve – those principles have been at the heart of the work we’ve done at the Towers. We haven’t always got it right but we’ve listened, learned and always tried to do the right thing.
As a sector we are determined that the Grenfell Tower tragedy and all those people who lost their lives or loved ones will be remembered. We owe it to them and every social housing or private rented tenant to make sure that, as landlords, we do our utmost to provide them with homes that are safe and decent. .
We will be holding a minute’s silence today at 12 across all our offices to remember those who were lost at Grenfell.
We continue to hold the safety of our residents as our number one priority and work to ensure people are safe and happy in their homes.