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Spa Green Estate: Islington Council admits blocks are in breach of fire safety rules

PUBLISHED: 11:34 07 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:24 20 September 2017

Fire safety was the main talking point at the Spa Green Management Organisation AGM. Estate manager Thomas Cooper is pictured second left. Picture: Polly Hancock

Fire safety was the main talking point at the Spa Green Management Organisation AGM. Estate manager Thomas Cooper is pictured second left. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Islington Council last night admitted for the first time that Finsbury’s Spa Green Estate is in breach of fire safety rules.

Fire safety was the main talking point at the Spa Green Management Organisation AGM. Picture: Polly HancockFire safety was the main talking point at the Spa Green Management Organisation AGM. Picture: Polly Hancock

Estate manager Thomas Cooper exposed the “fire trap” blocks in the Gazette last month. He claimed Islington had ignored his concerns for seven years about compartmentalisation: the concept where fire is contained in the flat where it starts.

He said this is non-existant in the estate, opposite Sadler’s Wells in Rosebery Avenue, due to shoddy fire stopping and holes in between ceilings.

And Mr Cooper invited three town hall housing officers to the Spa Green Management Organisation’s AGM last night. He even made them watch a documentary, shot following the Gazette’s coverage, about the safety issues.

There was standing room only in the tiny community hall, as tenants demanded: “When can we expect work to be done?”

Asked if he agreed that there are safety issues, technical services manager Garrett McEntee said: “Absolutely.”

He continued: “It’s fair to say there are aspects of work [in 2010] that weren’t done particularly well. We got the original contractor to have a look and understand how we have this situation.

“The contractor said compartmentalisation worked. We are of a slightly different opinion.”

Fire safety was the main talking point at the Spa Green Management Organisation AGM. Islington Council housing officers were hauled before tenants to explain themselves. Picture: Polly HancockFire safety was the main talking point at the Spa Green Management Organisation AGM. Islington Council housing officers were hauled before tenants to explain themselves. Picture: Polly Hancock

He said the council is “in discussion” with a contractor to carry out improvement work.

Mr Cooper is demanding the work is carried out by an independently certified fire stopping company.

And when Islington housing leader Cllr Diarmaid Ward turned up later, he was put on the spot. Cllr Ward conceded: “The buck stops with me. I think that sounds like a very good approach.”

He added: “I want to work with all of you to make sure this estate is as safe as possible.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Cooper said: “If residents’ views mean anything, the council will have to do something. They have to concede it’s an estate-wide problem.

“As long as the contractor is independently certified, residents can have more confidence. If Diarmaid Ward is also true to his word, we will have even more confidence in a proper outcome.

“He’s a politician – he wasn’t absolute, but he had nowhere to run and he did appear to concur.”

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