RESIDENTS of an “unsafe” Leamington tower block are being told to move out days before Christmas.
A fire service investigation has found Christine Ledger Square is “well below” acceptable safety standards and tenants are being moved to temporary accommodation.
Following the 2017 Grenfell tragedy, which claimed the lives of up to 80 people, Warwick District Council carried out an extensive review of its blocks – which include Eden Court, Ashton Court and Southern Court in Lillington; Christine Ledger Square and Radcliffe Gardens off Brunswick Street in south Leamington; Westbrook House and Stamford Gardens near the town centre, and blocks on Binswood Street and Clarendon Square.
None of the nine blocks, which vary from six to 15 storeys, were found to have had the same cladding thought to have led to Grenfell blaze spreading so quickly.
After the review, WDC agreed to proposals which saw £2.5million spent on stamping out fire risks at the nine blocks, which included new front doors for around 400 flats and upgrades to fire alarms.
The council was also quick to send out letters highlighting fire safety arrangements the council had in place – including weekly alarm testing, daily fire hazard checks, ensuring all flats had working smoke detectors fitted, and monthly emergency lighting testing. Sprinkler systems were also installed in bin areas.
But the ten storey Christine Ledger Square, which includes both council and privately owned flats, has been deemed too dangerous for residents to stay in its current condition.
There are 54 flats in the block – 40 of which were occupied at the time residents were offered alternative accommodation.
While WDC has not released exact details of the problems with the block, The Observer has been told round-the-clock safety guards – a so-called ‘waking watch ‘ – have been stationed in the entrance foyer for the past few months.
WDC confirmed in a statement that fire safety issues, and subsequent investigative works, had led to concerns about “how the building would respond in the case of fire”, which had resulted in residents being offered alternative, temporary accommodation.
WDC housing spokesman Coun Jan Matecki said: “The safety and welfare of our residents is our number one priority. Based on all the information we have received from our specialist surveys and investigations, and from information we have at hand, we consider that the building falls well below the standards that we as landlords,can accept. This leaves us with absolutely no alternative but to protect residents.
“It is not a decision we have taken lightly, particularly as it is so close to Christmas, but given our concerns with the safety of the building, we cannot ignore the situation. We will offer residents alternative accommodation, supporting them, practically and financially to move out of the flats, as quickly as we possibly can.”
Once empty, further investigations will take place. It is yet known when residents might be able to move back.
The council’s housing team and representatives from Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service have already held a number of meetings with residents.
As part of WDC’s ongoing review, ‘waking watch’ measures have also been put in place at Westbrook House. A ‘programme of works’ is scheduled to be carried out in the new year.