Statement on the fourth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower disaster

Published: Monday, 14th June 2021

A statement from Councillor Diko Blackings, cabinet member for affordable housing, housing security and housing the homeless:

“Today is the fourth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower disaster that claimed the lives of 72 people. Oxford City Council stands with the families, friends and survivors whose lives were changed forever by an entirely avoidable tragedy, and whose search for truth and justice continues.

“In April, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee called for the establishment of a Comprehensive Building Safety Fund to end the scandal of unsafe cladding. While thankfully nobody died, last month’s fire at New Providence Wharf showed the need for urgent government action to protect people living in fear in unsafe tower blocks.

“One Grenfell is too many. Enough is enough.

“I would like to take this opportunity to reassure tenants and leaseholders in our tower blocks that Oxford City Council are doing all we can to ensure their safety. As someone who was born and lived here in my early childhood years in a high rise council flat, this is a matter very dear to me.

“In 2016 and 2017, on the advice of Oxfordshire Fire Service our tower block refurbishment programme included the installation of sprinklers in flats and communal areas. This is still not a legal requirement. We also upgraded our fire safety systems to include heat and smoke detectors in all flats and smoke detectors in all communal areas, directly connected to the Fire Service, fire doors and automatic venting systems in stairwells.

“Following Grenfell, we were one of the first councils to complete the replacement of potentially unsafe aluminium composite cladding at Evenlode and Windrush towers in 2018.

“This year we have replaced sections of high pressure laminate cladding (HPL) which no longer meet safety standards on the balconies at Evenlode and Windrush towers, and are in the process of replacing HPL cladding at Hockmore Tower. By the time this work is complete in November, all five of our tower blocks will feature non-combustible sheet aluminium cladding and mineral wool insulation.

“We remain determined to protect the physical, mental and financial wellbeing of tower block residents who need to feel safe, supported and secure in their homes.”