To receive a report from Trafford Housing Trust.
The Executive Director from Trafford Housing Trust (THT) provided a verbal report to the Committee. Since 2019 THT had taken a fabric first approach to fire safety, which focused upon getting the materials and compartmentation right for all homes to ensure fires were stopped at the first opportunity. THT had invested in all areas of the high rise tower blocks to make sure that they were fire safe and this approach had spread to cover all of THT’s housing stock. THT had also expanded this work to their shelter schemes and were in the process of replacing all fire alarms, with 50% expected to be replaced within the year. THT were taking the same compartmentation approach to walk up flats as had been taken in the high rises and that work was scheduled to be completed within the year. The final piece of fire safety work ongoing was a door replacement programme, which was 50% complete and would be finished over the next two to three years.
The Executive Director for THT assured the Committee that it was of great importance for THT to get the cladding right and they understood the concerns of their customers. The Executive Director for THT apologised for the amount of noise being caused by the re-cladding works and recognised that this was far from ideal, especially with more residents working from home during the pandemic. Following communications from residents THT had contacted their contractors to ensure that work was only conducted during core working hours and information had been provided at each tower block stating what works were to be carried out each week. All of the old cladding had been removed and each tower block was classed as safe. The recladding of Empress Court was due to be completed in July and the other tower blocks would all be completed by December 2021. THT recognised that it had taken a long time to complete and the Committee were assured that the customer’s safety had always been of upmost importance.
The Executive Director for THT concluded by informing the Committee that a detailed piece of work was being conducted by THT’s parent company L&Q looking at the installation of sprinklers across all their housing stock. That review was to be completed by the autumn and THT would be able to provide more information after that point.
Following the Vice Chair noted that there had been reports of poor communication by THT with residents and he asked whether any improvements had been made to address this. The Executive Director of THT apologised for any problems residents had in contacting THT. The Committee were assured that was not the approach THT took and that they tried to be accessible to their customers as possible. Clear information on how to contact THT was available at every building they managed and it was important for residents to contact THT directly rather than speak to contractors to avoid communications from being lost. There had not been any changes to THT’s approach but a central hub was in place for all calls and there were clear lines of contact within the organisation to ensure queries were dealt with as soon as possible. The vice chair suggested that THT consider working with contractors to ensure they had a basic level of information so they could respond to residents who approached them. The Executive Director responded that he would take that back and consider taking an approach like that with contractors.
Councillor Thompson asked how the work had been financed and whether any of the costs would be passed onto the residents. The Executive Director responded that the works had so far been paid for out of THT’s funds and government grants and THT were not going to pass those costs onto residents.
Councillor Winstanley asked whether THT’s communications had be relocated since they were taken over by L&Q and whether they were any plans to move them. The Executive Director of THT responded that they had not moved and he was not aware of any plans to relocate them.
Councillor Barclay asked whether THT worked with any other providers around fire safety. The Executive Director of THT responded that they did work with other providers in the area and the Council helped to facilitate that information sharing and collaborative work. THT had helped to set up and took part in a country wide fire safety group, which involved a wide range of housing providers big and small from across the country.
Councillor Chilton vacated the Chair to Councillor Acton as he joined the meeting.
Councillor Butt asked how THT were dealing with evacuation procedures. The Executive Director for THT responded that THT had specific plans in place for each of their complex buildings. Some of the plans involved a stay put policy and others had an evacuation policy. The type of policy employed was decided upon with support of an independent fire officer and in full consultation with the local fire brigade. The information was shared with each resident when they moved in, was available on a notice board in each building, and all residents were informed if any changes were made. The policies in the tower blocks had changed over the course of the re-cladding process and THT had been in contact with all residents each time a change had occurred.
The Vice Chair requested that a further written update be provided when the re-cladding work was closer to completion or if any issues arose which impacted the completion of those works.
1) That the verbal report be noted.
2) That a further written report come to the Committee.