Residents at a housing estate in Tottenham, in London, have demanded that their local council carry out “urgent safety and maintenance works” following a fire that broke out at a tower block on 17 February 2023.
Emergency services were able to successfully extinguish the flat fire at Northumberland Park, which had been caused by the “unsafe use of incense sticks” – the London Fire Brigade sent eight fire appliances and 60 firefighters to tackle the blaze.
However, the incident unearthed several fire safety deficiencies, which had been highlighted by a fire risk assessment carried out on 9 May 2022. The results of the assessment listed “eight medium-priority actions” that were still ongoing from another risk assessment carried out a year previously.
As reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service and Haringey Community Press, on 21 February, residents and campaigners held a meeting outside Northumberland Park challenging Haringey Council’s lack of action. Some of these overdue works include “checking smoke alarms, fixing non-compliant fan lights, and determining the combustibility of panels on the outside of the block”.
Several residents also expressed their concern that fire alarms did not go off during the recent fire. Cabinet member for housing services, private renters, and planning at the council, Dana Carlin, said: “The safety of our residents will always be our number one priority and I am thankful that all of the fire safety provisions worked inside the flat and prevented it spreading to other areas of the building.
“As the London Fire Brigade have stated, the fire was believed to be accidental and caused by the unsafe use of incense sticks. It has no direct link whatsoever to the other issues that we are currently addressing.
“We have identified medium-priority works which, under our internal target, would ordinarily be within six months. However, there are times we may take the decision to include any works associated with fire risks in a wider major works programme, and this is the case with Kenneth Robbins House.
“We will be carrying out consultations with leaseholders and residents and will then be able to confirm a start date for the works to take place.” It is believed that the local authority will be awarding the contract for works at the building in May.
Notably, Northumberland Park Estate had been earmarked for demolition in 2018 as part of a £2 billion housebuilding scheme. The estate, which had been built in the 1960s and 70s, was intended to be taken over by developer Lendlease as part of the Haringey Development Vehicle; however, due to the criticism these plans received, they were later dropped by the council.