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Camber Sands inquest hears from people who tried to save lives

It's been revealed that on the day of the Camber drownings tragedy last August a member of the RNLI was on the beach to assess whether lifeguards were needed.

An inquest heard he'd been asked to carry out a survey by the local council following the deaths of two men, the month before.

Rother council met with the RNLI after the two deaths - but before the drowning of the five friends later. It asked the RNLI if it could provide a lifeguard service at Camber. But the RNLI said it didn't have the resources to do so.

That inquest into the deaths of the five friends has now heard from some of the people who tried to save the men.

Derek Johnson reports


Grieving brother says lives lost needlessly as inquest opens

It attracts 30,000 people in peak season, but an inquest heard today Camber Sands has hidden dangers.

Five friends - two of them brothers - died there last August after getting into difficulties in the water.

They had travelled to the beach, near Rye, for a day out. They WERE good swimmers. The month before, two other people had died - one trying to rescue the other.

Today, at the start of the inquests, the brother of one of the victims said having lifeguards at Camber Sands COULD have saved lives. He spoke out as he arrived in Hastings.


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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