Statement on the fifth anniversary of Grenfell

Published: Tuesday, 14th June 2022

A statement from Councillor Linda Smith, cabinet member for housing:

“Five years ago today the world changed as 72 lives were claimed in the disaster at Grenfell Tower. Oxford City Council stands with the 72 people who died, their families, friends and the survivors of Grenfell. We hope the official enquiry into the disaster will eventually bring them closure and peace. Grenfell was an avoidable tragedy and those responsible for it need to be held to account.

“But most of all, we need this: no more Grenfells.

“I’d also like to reassure tenants and leaseholders in our own tower blocks that Oxford City Council won’t compromise on their safety and wellbeing.

“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 – 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.

"After Grenfell, we were one of the first councils to complete the replacement of potentially unsafe aluminium composite panels at Evenlode and Windrush towers in 2018. Last year, we removed high pressure laminate (HPL) panels from Hockmore Tower and balconies on Evenlode and Windrush towers following changes to government safety standards.

“All five of our tower blocks now feature non-combustible sheet aluminium rain screen panels and mineral wool insulation – the safest type of cladding.

“Last October, 55 mph winds dislodged some of the new replacement cladding from Evenlode Tower and we are now working with our contractor to re-inspect our tower blocks to ensure they will withstand any future extreme weather events. We thank affected residents for their co-operation and patience.

“The safety of tenants and leaseholders in their homes will continue to be our absolute top priority as a landlord.”