The Service Director for Housing stated, that included within the agenda pack was a copy of the letter received from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. The first part of the letter reminded the Council of its responsibilities on reporting issues with buildings to the department, especially those with ACM cladding. The second part of the letter which was key to the Panel’s deliberations was regarding the need for all Local Authorities to monitor and manage the housing conditions in their area. There was specific mention in the letter of the need for the Council to take all appropriate steps to identify and notify the MHCLG (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) of all high rise residential buildings over 18 metres, including the private sector in their area. The MHCLG expected the Council to identify any appropriate steps to be taken with the legal framework, which included inspections and assessment of hazards. The letter reminded and expected the Council to take enforcement action against private bodies and landlords when required and that risks should be continued to be monitored on an ongoing basis which included the monitoring of partners who ran the blocks.
The Service Director for Housing remarked that the directive from the MHCLG meant the Council was now required to create and keep records on all high rise buildings above 18 metres and to continue to notify the MHCLG of any changes to the buildings, which included those falling within the private sector. In light of the letter, a review had been carried out by the Council which had identified 6 blocks in private ownership which fell within the scope. The first round of the Safer High Rise Programme had commenced at Hampton View on Woden Road, which was owned by the Council and leased to Sanctuary Housing Group on a long-term lease. An Inspection Notice had been served on the block on the 15 June 2018. Informal inspections had taken place in conjunction with the Fire Service in the previous week and further inspections were being carried out on the present day. Inspections would also be taking place at, The Studio in Birch Street. The Council was continuing to work with, The University of Wolverhampton on their residential blocks. St Cecilia’s Block in Wednesfield also fell within the scope of the new directive issued by the MHCLG.
The Service Director for Housing proposed that the findings, progress, actions and outcomes of the Safer High-Rise Programme be reported back to the Fire Safety Scrutiny Group. She stated a comprehensive update on the private high rise residential blocks could be provided at the next meeting of the Fire Safety Scrutiny Group. The Chair agreed this was a sensible approach and asked for any significant development to be raised with him directly in between meetings and he would notify Panel Members by email. The Chair spoke positively of the new programme and he was pleased inspection notices had already been issued. In the report to be received by the group at the next meeting, the Chair requested it should contain details about the extent of the enforcement action that had been taken.
Resolved: That Fire Safety Scrutiny Group at their next meeting should receive a report on the work of the Safer High-Rise programme, which should include details of the extent of any enforcement actiontaken place to date.