Home West London Councillor warned about escape routes from Grenfell Tower in 2009, inquiry hears

Councillor warned about escape routes from Grenfell Tower in 2009, inquiry hears



nervous councillor had tried to boost issues about how folks would possibly escape from a fireplace on the Grenfell Tower after a deadly blaze in a distinct housing block in 2009, a public inquiry has heard.

Local councillor Judith Blakeman outlined her fears in an e mail to Robert Black who was the chief govt of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) from 2009 to December 2017 and to director of housing Laura Johnson a day after a fireplace at Lakanal House in Camberwell south London on July 3 2009 in which six folks died.

In the e-mail Ms Blakeman spoke of her fears that people who find themselves attempting to flee in a fireplace might face a “lifeless finish” and she or he invitations each officers to affix her on a visit to the highest flooring of Grenfell Tower in west London to see the issue for themselves.

I’d invite you to accompany me as much as the highest flooring (of Grenfell Tower) to see how tough it will be to get out of this block in the occasion of an emergency

In an e mail addressed to Mr Black and Ms Johnson, she states: “In mild of the tragic fireplace yesterday in Camberwell I’d be grateful if we will have a danger evaluation and report on the technique of escape in the occasion of fireside masking all of the tower blocks in TMO’s possession inside the borough.


“At Grenfell Tower, for instance, due to the council places of work on the decrease flooring, getting out of this constructing by the steps is extraordinarily tough and one can find yourself at a lifeless finish.

“I’d invite you to accompany me as much as the highest flooring to see how tough it will be to get out of this block in the occasion of an emergency.”

A fireplace on the Grenfell Tower block in west London in June 2017 claimed 72 lives.

Ms Johnson instructed the inquiry, which is inspecting the circumstances main as much as and surrounding the fireplace, that she didn’t keep in mind getting the e-mail.

The council was the proprietor and landlord of Grenfell Tower.

The TMO was the organisation appointed by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) to run its complete council housing inventory.

Ms Johnson was the RBKC’s director of housing when the Grenfell Tower fireplace befell.

She labored for RBKC from February 2009 till September 2017.

The Grenfell Tower(Jonathan Brady/PA) / PA Wire

Ms Johnson’s response to Ms Blakeman was {that a} working occasion can be finishing up a overview of the fireplace danger assessments of the communal areas of the council blocks.

Richard Millett QC, lead counsel to the Inquiry, requested: “In mild of Ms Blakeman’s e mail did you particularly direct anybody on the TMO to undertake a danger evaluation of the technique of escape in TMO-managed tower blocks?”

Ms Johnson mentioned she “didn’t keep in mind”.

On whether or not she took up the provide to go together with Ms Blakeman to the highest flooring of Grenfell Tower, Ms Johnson instructed the listening to: “I don’t imagine I did.”

When requested why, Ms Johnson added: “I don’t know.”

Mr Millett mentioned: “A severe and deadly fireplace had occurred two days beforehand.

“She (Ms Blakeman) has recognized a particular dangerous constructing and, even with out the advantage of hindsight, why would you not have thought to your self ‘here’s a councillor with a constructing in her ward which she is anxious about, I higher take a look at it myself’.”

Ms Johnson added: “I’m afraid I actually don’t keep in mind this e mail from 2009 and don’t keep in mind my thought course of on how I responded to councillor Blakeman, all I can see is what’s written right here.”

She believed she would have spoken to Mr Black and Janice Wray, the TMO’s well being and security supervisor, about it however added “clearly right here I haven’t taken up her provide of taking a visit to the highest flooring of Grenfell Tower”.

Ms Johnson was requested if it was truthful to say that from the time of the Lakanal House fireplace that she was personally conscious that issues had been expressed about the adequacy of escape routes from Grenfell Tower.

Ms Johnson replied: “I’m conscious that it was raised in this specific e mail however I don’t keep in mind being frequently conscious of it all through my time as director of housing at RBKC.”

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) issued a deficiency discover referring to Grenfell Tower in November 2016, after an inspection of the constructing that month, which was to be complied with by May 2017.

Ms Johnson famous that two flat entrances have been recognized as not self-closing and accepted she didn’t recognize that upkeep was a problem.

She mentioned the TMO sought to rectify these issues.

The inquiry heard that many doorways which ought to have been self-closing and wanted restore, substitute or adjustment however Ms Johnson mentioned that value was not her best concern.

She mentioned value was “all the time a consideration” because the  price range had  appreciable shortfalls and obligations however “there was by no means dispute at RBKC about paying for any measures that have been required for well being and security.”

Ms Johnson wished to push the set up of door closers to change into a 5 12 months as an alternative of a three-year programme with no inspections.

On what was her  view on the LFB’s clear recommendation on the necessity to keep and examine self-closing units,  Ms Johnson mentioned: “I don’t keep in mind precisely what my views have been in March 2017 however all I can say is I used to be clearly in error.

“I accepted the truth that we wanted a door nearer programme and that one must be put in place.

“I wished to try this with the complete understanding of the authorized recommendation required in order to realize entry notably to leaseholder doorways however what I actually wished to grasp was whether or not statutorily we wanted to do an inspection programme.”

The listening to was adjourned to Thursday.