Statement submitted to tonight’s full Council meeting on the fire safety scandal in Waltham Forest

I have submitted the following statement to tonight’s full Council meeting:

1. In 2017-18, the Council replaced 217 flat entrance doors (FEDs) at Northwood Tower and four sheltered housing blocks.

2. The Council told residents that the new FEDs were certified FD60 (i.e., they would provide sixty minutes protection) and made the same claim repeatedly in public; while many of the FEDs carried F60 stickers.

3. In 2019, and for reasons that remain unexplained, the Council sent three FEDs from the 2017-18 batch to Dubai for fire testing, and they failed at 31, 34, and 45 minutes.

4. The Council subsequently claimed that since the three FEDs had withstood fire for more than 30 minutes, and the Building Regulations demanded that FEDs be at minimum FD30, there was nothing to worry about.

5. However, currently the Council is in the process of removing all 217 FEDs and replacing them, at a cost of c. £500,000 – thus revealing that, Dubai tests or not, it has little confidence that any are legally compliant.

6. It has also emerged that the 217 FEDs are a brand called Erewash, made by Masterdor Ltd., and coded SG08, the significance of this being that in May 2018, as a result of Grenfell, the government wrote to all councils and warned specifically about SG08s.

7. In the light of these facts, please will the Council:

(a) publish the evidence that it relied upon at time of purchase to establish that the 217 FEDs were as the seller described;

(b) state why it arranged the Dubai tests;

(c) state whether it has reported the fake FD60 FEDs to the police as possibly fraudulent, and if not, why not;

(d) state whether it has formally apologised to residents in the five blocks for misleading them over the course of two to three years about a vital element of fire safety, particularly since these same residents were instructed to ‘stay put’ in the event of fire; and

(e) state what this episode has cost the public purse, including officer time.

Nick Tiratsoo

03/12/20

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