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Residents' fears as tower blocks fail fire safety tests

It's been revealed tonight that two tower blocks in Oxford have cladding that has failed fire safety tests. Samples taken from the Windrush and Evenlode tower blocks were sent to the Government for testing last week. Oxford City Council has now been told the cladding is "a risk". Mary Stanley reports

Interviewees: Simon Furlong Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Cllr Bob Price Oxford City Council

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As cladding is removed from tower blocks - some say they should be evacuated

Sprinklers should be fitted in all high-rise buildings in Portsmouth at a cost of up to 10 million pounds.

That's the call from council leaders tonight, as work continues to remove cladding from two residential tower blocks - found to be unsafe - after failing fire safety tests

Work began on Friday to remove cladding from Horatia House and Leamington House - two of Portsmouth's 13 tower blocks.

Some residents think they should be evacuated Richard Slee has the latest here.

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No charges for leaseholders in Tower blocks

Council leaders say leaseholders in Evenlode and Windrush Towers will not be charged for the removal of the cladding.

Windrush Tower Credit: ITV Meridian

Details of cladding on all Oxford City Council tower blocks were sent to the Government.

It confirmed they are only testing ACM cladding –which applies to Evenlode and Windrush Towers, and which was identified as a risk.

Other tower blocks will have rain-screen cladding made from non-combustible sheet aluminium, rather than aluminium composite.

The City Council said it had exceeded legal requirements in terms oft he whole safety system in all five tower blocks. Fire safety precautions that have already been undertaken as part of the £20 million tower blocks repairs project are:

  • · Sprinklers in all flats, directly connected tot he Fire Service
  • · Heat and smoke detectors in all flats
  • · Smoke detectors in all communal areas, directlyconnected to the Fire Service
  • · Non-combustible insulation
  • · Fire breaks within the cladding system
  • · Upgraded communal area fire doors and flatentrance fire doors
  • · Automatic venting system to stairwell to removesmoke
  • · Upgraded fire seals to waste chutes

Anyone with questions or concerns about fire safety in the tower blocks can also telephone 01865 249811or email towerblocks@oxford.gov.uk,or attend one of a series of residents meetings.

Cladding removed from Oxford tower block after failing fire safety test

Two tower blocks in Oxford have cladding that has failed fire safety tests.

Now the City council says it will replace the rain-screen cladding on the two buildings - with non-combustible material.

Windrush Towers Credit: ITV Meridian

The City Council will replace the rain-screen cladding on Evenlode and Windrush Towers with improved non-combustible material in line with the requirements of the new central government guidance.

Samples taken from the Windrush tower block - and also Evenlode - were sent to the Government for testing last week. Oxford City Council has now been told the cladding is "a risk".

All councils were asked to send in samples after the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London, which has so far claimed 79 lives.

The results have come back and identify that the cladding is a risk. As a precautionary measure, the City Council will therefore be replacing this cladding on the two blocks with improved non-combustible material. Plans for the replacement of the cladding are already underway and time frames are being reviewed with contractors.

Grenfell Tower in West London Credit: PA

Tenants’ safety is our top concern and we will not compromise on safety standards. We have been working with Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service who have been involved in the design of the fire safety arrangements in the blocks.

They completed a review of these arrangements and site inspections today, and confirmed that the fire safety measures in place are satisfactory.

As a result I confirm that it is not necessary to evacuate the towers. We’re arranging for the work to begin removing the cladding to start as soon as possible, and we’ll let residents know more details about all of this as soon as we have finalised them.”

– Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council
Windrush Tower Credit: ITV MERIDIAN

I would like to reassure residents of Oxford’s five high-rise towers that Oxford City Council has taken all the necessary fire safety measures to ensure they are safe in their home. Oxford CityCouncil followed our advice to introduce a number of fire safety improvements as part of the recent refurbishment work.

This includes the installation of a new sprinkler system in flats and communal areas and a fire and smoke detection system connected directly to the fire service. As the owner of both buildings, Oxford City Council carries out regular fire risk assessments, which are audited by Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

These audits are up-to-date. In the event of a fire at any high-rise tower in Oxford, we have the resources in place to ensure a rapid response within our target response times.

– Simon Furlong, Director of Community Safety and Oxford County Council Chief Fire Officer
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