Socialist Worker

Camberwell fire tower ‘was a risk’

Issue No. 2162

The design of Lakanal House, a tower block in Camberwell where six people died in a fire last month, was identified as being a risk nearly ten years ago.

Southwark’s Building Design Service was ordered to survey residential buildings of six floors and above in October 2000, following a fire at a block of flats in Scotland.

The inquiry looked into the risk that external cladding on tower blocks could lead to fire spreading. The committee sent letters to all metropolitan borough councils to assess the extent of the possible threat.

It estimated there were about 3,500 residential tower blocks higher than ten storeys in the UK and that 500 were fitted with external cladding.

In the report Lakanal House and nearby block Marie Curie were identified as being of “medium risk” where “the external elements of construction may pose a fire risk, or a risk of fire spread”.

It said of both blocks, “There is a risk of localised fire spread between wall panelled sections.”

A spokesperson for Southwark council said, “The safety and wellbeing of our residents is a priority for the council, and we reject any allegation that we do not take these responsibilities seriously.”

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