Watchdog probe into Leeds council’s response after Grenfell Tower blaze

Fire safety checks at council owned tower blocks in Leeds were the intial priority.
Fire safety checks at council owned tower blocks in Leeds were the intial priority.
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Leeds City Council has set out the terms of reference for one of three inquiries to be held into its response to the Grenfell Tower blaze.

The fire at a tower block in west London claimed the lives of at least 80 people in June, leaving many more homeless.

It also triggered international concern that cladding materials used in the building’s refurbishment may have hastened the spread of the fire.

A report issued to a Leeds council watchdog said: “The horrific events of June 14 in west London have resulted in continued public and media interest in the safety of high-rise blocks across the UK.

“The immediate priority of Leeds City Council following the events of Grenfell Tower has been the assurance of Leeds citizens regarding their personal safety.”

The initial focus in Leeds was on the council’s 116 high-rise residential blocks and carrying out checks which confirmed the 23 cladded blocks in the city were not of a similar type to those at Grenfell.

A strategic task group of senior officers and fire service representatives was also formed to oversee the delivery of the council’s action plan. It has included assessing other public buildings such as schools and hospitals, controlling evacuation procedures and keeping residents informed.

Now their work is to come under the spotlight as the council’s Environment, Housing and Communities Scrutiny Board investigates the actions taken to date around council housing stock safety, engagement with residents and investment decisions.

Separate probes will take a closer look at private sector properties and building control, and emergency planning.

The housing board’s inquiry will make recommendations on five areas, including contingency measures for re-homing Leeds council residents in the event of a major fire.

A board meeting on October 9 will review evidence before a draft report is put forward to members in November.