VULNERABLE people in council-managed housing in Farnham have been waiting months for work to rectify fire safety hazards.
Residents of the senior living flats at Riverside Court have a fire warden in place 24/7 while they await work to make their building safe.
It is four months since Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) served an improvement enforcement notice, after an inspection found potentially hazardous wooden panelling ceiling throughout all floors in common parts of the building.
Waverley Borough Council’s executive last night (November 2) approved £520,000 to complete fire safety works required on its 1980s flats, which house tenants aged 60 and over, or 50 and over with a disability.
Cllr Anne-Marie Rosoman, portfolio holder for housing and community safety, said: “I’m hoping that within the next week we should have an idea about the actual timing but it’s not going to be immediate.
“We’ve had fire wardens in situ to make sure the residents are protected and that will continue until such time as the work’s complete.”
A type 4 fire risk assessment was done in June this year, an intrusive inspection of both the communal parts of the building plus a sample of the flats.
On July 9, SFRS issued the enforcement notice ordering fire stopping work throughout, including residents’ homes, as well as the removal of timber ceiling.
SFRS also recommended the borough council immediately end its ‘stay put’ fire policy, which was advised at Grenfell Tower in 2017 with devastating consequences.
The policy relies on fire separation between each flat to ensure any fire does not spread. Until remedial works are completed occupants will need to instead evacuate the building should there be a fire.
Cllr Rosoman (LD, Godalming Central and Ockford) said tenants had been kept updated throughout with regular meetings and newsletters.
She said on meeting some of the tenants: “Quite a number of them said, ‘Well we’ve lived with it for years, I don’t see what the problem is now’.
“So they don’t seem to be particularly upset by it, but they are appreciative of the work that’s being undertaken.”
The £520,000 had been set aside to replace kitchens and bathrooms, but had not been spent because the service provider pulled out of the contract, having found “they weren’t going to make enough money”.
The executive was told replacement kitchen and bathroom works will be reprogrammed for 2022/23.
The new ‘simultaneous evacuation plan’ is expected to cost the borough council £140,000 and will come from its Housing Revenue Account contingency budget.