Ninety residents were present at an “unruly” meeting at Homepine House yesterday to hear Peverel representatives justify a £70,000 fire safety system most do not want.
It is unknown whether a representative of Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, was present, but a local newspaper journalist was.
The Peverel Area Manager took the meeting supported by its Health and Safety Manager.
“The meeting was somewhat unruly with questions being raised all the time,” says one who was present, “Although the Area Manager did her best to control this by insisting on only answering one question at a time.”
Residents base their argument that the upgrade is unnecessary because they have written statement of December last year from Kent Fire and Rescue Services saying that the existing arrangements meet regulations.
Peverel’s argument was that the Fire Service would be gradually implementing present legislation which would make the upgrade necessary.
There is no written document from the Fire Service confirming this, but the Area Manager said she hoped it would be obtained in due course.
The Health and Safety Manager stressed that the proposed system would give ‘early warning’ which was needed these days. Lots of discussion took place about alternative systems (including an upgrade without smoke alarms in every flat) that the Area Manager said she would look into.
The Health and Safety Manager quoted the Lakanal House fire in south 2009, where six people had died, as justification for proposals.
Resident Alan Eadie pointed out that this 14-storey council block of flats that should have been demolished in 2006, but alas was not. He claimed that according to the inquest the deaths were largely the result of “botched and unsafe renovation work and the council’s failure to inspect the building, as well as confusion and chaos during the firefighting operation”.
Residents were invited to visit another Peverel development where the full upgrade had been implemented.
No vote was taken “as it was clear that the majority of residents would still have opposed the upgrade”, says Eadie.
The Health and Safety Manager made it clear that smoke alarms in every flat was only an option and not necessary by legislation.
The residents will shortly hold a meeting among themselves to see what the majority prefer: the upgrade or not, or opt for a less expensive option.
“An upgrade without the smoke alarms in every flat looks like it would be in the region of £21K as opposed to £58K for the full works, although the whole tendering process would have to be reviewed (at additional cost),” says Eadie.