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Frequently Asked Questions - Carlisle, Lincoln and Richmond Houses

Tower block of flats

Below is a list of questions relating to Carlisle House, Lincoln House and Richmond House in Preston.

Does the Council own the three blocks above?

No. The blocks are owned and managed by Onward Homes, a North West-based housing association and registered provider.

How many flats are involved in the current review?

There are 60 flats in each block so a total of 180 flats across the whole site.

Is the cladding on these flats the same type as that used on Grenfell Tower?

No. The cladding used at Grenfell was a material known as Aluminium Composite Material (ACM). The cladding material used on these blocks is a different material known as High Pressure Laminate (HPL).

Was HPL cladding known to be a potentially dangerous type of cladding?

No. In the months following the fire at Grenfell Tower, all tower blocks in Preston over 18m were the subject of comprehensive fire safety inspections by the Council and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Services.

The Government requested local authorities to do these inspections and report back on any blocks found to have ACM cladding fitted as this was the only type of cladding thought to be potentially dangerous at this time.

No tower blocks in Preston were found to have ACM cladding.

What has now changed?

After examining all the data submitted by local authorities following the inspections, alongside the results of ongoing testing of other forms of cladding, the Government has broadened the scope of information it requires. In 2019 it asked local authorities to make further enquiries about buildings in their areas with HPL cladding fitted.

It also reissued guidance to local authorities, Fire and Rescue Authorities and the owners of high rise buildings to broaden the scope of their enquiries.

This resulted in Onward Homes undertaking further investigations into the cladding on the above blocks and a review of the fire safety procedures it had in place.

What has been the result of the review?

Onward Homes has completed its review and found the HPL cladding does not perform like the ACM cladding system in a fire. However, in line with Government advice and guidelines Onward has committed to remove the HPL cladding system at the earliest opportunity, to ensure the safety of its customers.

Onward's highest priority is keeping customers safe and secure so substantial upgrades of the fire alarm system have been undertaken. This ensures that, in the event of a fire or activation, customers will be clearly alerted. All residents have also been updated on the evacuation process in the event of a fire, which has moved from a 'stay put' procedure to advising all residents to evacuate the buildings.

That advice, including information on how to raise the alarm, has been issued to all customers and is endorsed by both Lancashire Fire and Rescue Services and Preston City Council.

Onward Homes has also engaged fire safety wardens to patrol each block 24 hours a day to ensure the alarm is raised very quickly if a fire occurs.

Residents have also been advised on things they can do to reduce the risk of a fire, and the fire doors to all flats are being checked.

Finally, Lancashire Fire and Rescue has offered a free fire safety check for all residents.

What happens next?

The extra precautions above are in addition to extensive improvements to the fire safety measures inside the buildings, which were undertaken and completed by Onward Homes very soon after the Grenfell fire took place.

The work to remove the cladding system is planned to commence in December 2020 and the Council and Lancashire Fire and Rescue continue to work closely with Onward Homes to identify what improvements may now be needed to the buildings.

Onward Homes is co-operating fully with the Council in this work and will be keeping residents informed via their website.

What if tenants still have concerns about the safety of their flats?

In the first instance, all tenants are advised to refer to the information provided by Onward to each flat, setting out both the procedure to be followed in the event of a fire, but also what things tenants need to do themselves to reduce the chance of a fire occurring.

Tenants who are still concerned, however, are advised they can contact the Council's Housing Standards Team for further advice, either by emailing info@preston.gov.uk or calling 01772 906907.

A free fire safety check from Lancashire Fire and Rescue can also be requested by calling the Onward Customer Contact Centre on 0300 555 0600.

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