Page last updated at 18:48 GMT, Friday, 14 August 2009 19:48 UK

Council 'misleading' on fire risk

Lakanal House fire
Southwark Council manages Lakanal House and Perronet House

Residents of a south London tower block similar to one where six people died in a fire claim a council misled them about the building's safety issues.

Tenants at Perronet House, managed by Southwark Council, were told there was no cause for concern despite it being ordered by fire chiefs to make changes.

The council also managed Lakanal House in Camberwell, where six people died in the fire on 3 July.

It denied misleading Perronet residents over safety measures being taken.

A spokesman said the work was being carried out and its messages to residents had been "consistent".

Enforcement order

However, on 31 July the council sent a letter to residents of Perronet House, near Elephant and Castle, saying London Fire Brigade (LFB) inspectors found "no causes for concern".

Then on 12 August it sent them another letter explaining LFB had served the council with an enforcement order, requiring safety improvements to be made at Perronet House and two other tower blocks.

The council was also ordered to carry out improvements to south London tower blocks Marie Curie and Castlemead.

Janet Yatak
They have to now try to assure us that they are going to protect our safety and put residents' safety first
Resident Janet Yatak

Resident Janet Yatak said: "Councillor (Paul) Noblet has turned around and said the order was over the top and unnecessary because they were already going to do the work three weeks ago.

"That means three weeks ago they knew this needed to be done. That was before they sent out the original letter on 31 July."

The council said it agreed to carry out improvement works at Perronet House three weeks ago - including new ceiling panels, communal doors and new doors for each flat.

However it said this was consistent with telling residents there was "no cause for concern".

Lib Dem councillor Noblet said: "I think the council has been absolutely clear on this.

"What has caused some confusion, and I think sadly some worry, is the fire brigade coming forward with the enforcement orders after we had already agreed the works."

Miss Yatak said residents will only trust the council if it is "more transparent".

"They have to now try to assure us that they are going to protect our safety and put residents' safety first," she said.

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