Laura Sharman 11 August 2017

Council forced to cut gas supply to tower blocks over safety concerns

A London borough has been forced to cut off the gas supply to tower blocks after an investigation revealed safety works had not been carried out in the past.

Southwark Council had ordered the review following concerns over cracks in the Ledbury Towers. However, during the investigation is was discovered that structural improvements had not been made following a gas explosion when the towers were built back in 1970.

As a result, the council has taken the decision to turn off the gas supply and has provided residents with hotplates for cooking, access to shower facilities at local leisure centres and will install a single electrical water heater in each flat as soon as possible.

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, the council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for housing, said: “At every stage of this investigation, we have put residents’ safety first, and acted on the best information available. We didn’t own the blocks when they were constructed at the end of the 1960s, but all the reports we found suggested the blocks were strengthened following the Ronan Point incident in 1968, to make them safe to include a gas supply.

‘Arup’s structural investigations suggest this strengthening may not have occurred, and we have therefore turned off the gas, until further investigations can be done. We are doing all we can to provide residents with alternatives while the gas is turned off, and are working up a plan to permanently replace the gas with electric ovens, boilers etc as part of the wider works, should that be necessary.

‘We have also written to the Department of Communities and Local Government to inform them of this issue, as it may well have implications for other blocks around the country that were constructed in this way.’

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