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Message from Council Leader Cllr Martin Hill OBE - 4 July 2017

Cllr Hill looks at action being taken in Lincolnshire in the wake of the London fire disaster.

Cllr Martin Hill

Many issues still remain unclear after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, but one thing is absolutely certain - it must never happen again.

That’s a conviction shared by everyone across the country - from ordinary citizens to politicians of all parties, shocked by what we witnessed that day.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the retired judge appointed by the Government to lead the inquiry, has been asked to produce an interim report as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, those of us with any responsibility for fire safety have a duty to do what we can now - and we will.

Here in Lincolnshire, it is the seven district councils who are the main providers of social housing - not the county.

To support the districts, our emergency planning teams and fire officers have been working alongside them as they check their high-rise housing.

In particular, our fire officers have been looking at stairwells, exit routes and firefighting equipment, as well as offering reassurance and safety advice to residents.

Hospitals across the county have also been assessed by NHS property teams, although again our firefighters have been providing fire safety guidance.

More generally, all landlords of high-rise buildings have been asked to check their premises for the aluminium (ACM) cladding used in Grenfell Tower.

If it’s found, fire officers will make an urgent visit to check that appropriate fire safety measures are in place.

As regards Lincolnshire County Council’s own buildings, we were asked by the Government to identify and check schools with four or more storeys.

We were also urged to look at those with residential accommodation, where staff and pupils could be living on the premises.

Our investigations confirmed that only five county schools fall into these two categories - and none has ACM cladding.

We then moved on to checking all our other schools and academies - whatever their height, and already more than 360 have been assessed.

Fire officers will now support any found to have ACM cladding with advice about fire safety measures and any extra precautions they might need.

On the subject of precautions, the council introduced a policy in 2008 requiring all new schools over a certain size to be fitted with sprinklers.

Since then, nine have been built - all with that extra level of protection.

As you’d expect for a council covering an area the size of Lincolnshire, we also have hundreds of non-school properties.

To ensure the safety of our staff and visitors, all these are now being checked, with 548 confirmed as having no cladding system.

A further 88 have cladding that doesn’t contain ACM, while (as I write) another 78 buildings are about to be investigated.

As I said, the lessons of the Grenfell Tower disaster may still be emerging, but action can and must be taken now to ensure it never happens again.

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