CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Chalcots estate: residents crowdfund for independent fire safety inspection

Surveyors plan to spend two days at the tower blocks

01 August, 2017 — By William McLennan

Sasha Martin, left, and Robert Kukaj, right, started the fundraising

A CROWDFUNDING drive has been launched to pay for an independent fire safety inspection to be carried out at the Chalcots estate.

A group of residents, whose fears over safety at the tower blocks in Adelaide Road have not yet been allayed, are working with a solicitors firm to commission the report by surveyors.

Around 3,000 people spent a month living in temporary accommodation after they were evacuated from their homes by Camden Council at a moment’s notice on June 23. The drastic measure began when the London Fire Brigade found a number of safety issues inside the blocks during an inspection that was triggered by the discovery they were wrapped in flammable cladding.

Many residents have returned home after being reassured by the council that it is safe to do so after urgent works had been carried out to address the fire brigade’s concerns. Others have refused to go back or have done so reluctantly while not feeling confident in their safety.

Robert Kukaj and Sasha Martin, whose families live in the towers, set up the online donation page, which has a target of £3,000.

Mr Kukaj said: “We as residents feel that it is not safe to return to our flats as we have seen evidence that these works have not been done properly and to the right standard.

“We also felt that these works being signed off by different local authorities does not provide the impartiality that you would have if it was done by an approved inspector with no ties to any local authority or government.

“It is a lot to ask for granted but worth every penny to put people’s minds at ease and to make sure we are not living in death traps.”

He said the majority of the costs would be covered by legal aid, but the remainder of the costs of the two-day inspection needed to be raised.

Around 30 people, who do not feel safe to return home, went to the High Court yesterday as barristers argued that people should not be forced back until a further inspection on the cladding has taken place.

The application was viewed as a test case that could impact all residents of the blocks, but this afternoon it was rejected by Her Honour Judge Juliet Mary May QC.

Many of those who attended the hearing felt that it should have focused on their concerns around the quality of internal works, instead of only the safety of cladding.

Saranda Hajdari, who lives in Burnham with her parents and four siblings, said outside court: “It was the wrong case. They need to raise the issues with the internal works. The cladding is not the main issue.”

A council spokesman said after yesterday’s ruling at the Royal Courts of Justice: “We have been working alongside residents to reassure them of the safety of the buildings following London Fire Brigade advice and we have a package of support for moving home.

“We want to again reassure residents that building control requirements have been met and independently checked. Additionally, and crucially, the London Fire Brigade have checked the works and are happy that we have met the required standard. We know this has been a difficult time for residents and we will continue to make one to one support and advice available.”

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