18th Nov, 2018

New tower block fire safety concerns in Coventry

FIRE safety concerns have been identified below a Coventry city centre tower block, it has emerged.

The 13-storey block of residential flats in question is Hillman House above the Allied Carpets shop in Smithford Way.

The Coventry Observer has since the Grenfell Tower tragedy asked the authorities a series of questions concerning fire safety at 24 city tower blocks housing 17,000 residents operated by Whitefriars Housing Group, which include Hillman House.

Leading Coventry city councillors have now stated the council has been trying to work with the separate developer of the former Allied Carpets building to ensure the safety of residents who live in Hillman House.

A leading councillor has spoken out about his frustration in dealing with building control regulations.

Councillor Jim O’Boyle, ward councillor and cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, who has been talking to concerned residents following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in London, said: “I’m flabbergasted at the lack of power we seem to have in ensuring the people that live in Hillman House feel safe.

“The building directly below them is being clad yet there are no powers through the building control process to insist on a particular cladding in this instance.

“And if the developer, as they have in that case, employed private building control we have no power again.

“It’s seems completely ridiculous to me that there is no way for us to insist that the developer uses top spec fire retardant materials. We’ve got them to move a bit on the side of the building that faces town. It will be a higher specification than the rest.

“But on the other side, because the tower block sits back from the front wall, there is nothing we can do.

“I’m frustrated with the regulations which clearly don’t require a high enough standard of materials.

I’m frustrated that the system allows approved inspectors which means that we can’t get involved. And I’m frustrated with the developer.

“I will continue to work with residents. And to reassure them that to the letter of the current regulations the work does comply.

“But this won’t stop us continuing to apply pressure at every opportunity to make sure all new developments in the city are the best quality we can achieve working with developers and the regulation.

“I will also be writing to the Minister responsible to explain why this isn’t good enough.”

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