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Safety checks still needed 3 years after Felmores fire
8:00am Monday 3rd September 2012 in Local News
CONCERNS have been raised that fire safety measures have not been completed at every home on Pitsea ’s Felmores estate – three years after a devastating blaze.
Gavin Callaghan, Labour councillor for Pitsea north west, claims out of the 412 timber-clad and framed houses on the estate, fire checks have only been carried out at 359.
Mr Callaghan revealed the figures after a meeting with Basildon Council officers into progress on the estate.
Council and housing chiefs had previously promised to install safer cladding to the timber-framed homes, at a cost of £5,000 per house, but this still hasn’t been done.
James Henderson, the council’s property services business manager, insisted it had done all it could to make sure houses were safe from fire.
But Mr Callaghan said people had “heard enough talking”.
He added: “If residents did not pay their council tax for three years, they would have people knocking on their doors – so in terms of fire safety, why are council officers not out there?
“We’ve had three years since one of the biggest fires Felmores has seen. Hopefully we can put enough pressure on them to make those houses as safe as they can be.
“History has shown us it will happen again.”
Fire ripped through Bockingham Green in November 2009, when arsonists set fire to a fly-tipped sofa. It destroyed eight homes and forced many more residents to be evacuated.
Then in April this year, a fire raged through nearby Winstree, bearing a shocking resemblance to events three years earlier.
Mr Callaghan has also called for an independent fire report to be carried out, rather than the council hiring consultants to do the work.
Mr Henderson said a scheme to replace the timber cladding with a more energy efficient product fell through, but the council hoped to find a suitable contractor soon and begin work by the end of the year. He also said the council had also not been able to access all the properties to check on fire safety.
He said: “Of the 53 dwellings where the council has not been able to access, 40 are either leaseholders or freeholders. Although the council offered to carry out the inspection free-of-charge to leaseholders and freeholders, it has no legal powers to forceaccess.
“It will, however, be taking robust action, including applying to the courts to obtain a housing injunction against the 13 tenants who have not allowed access, as it is a breach of their tenancy.”