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Woking Council Homes Have Not Had Fire Safety Checks

Published on: 15 Dec, 2023
Updated on: 18 Dec, 2023

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

Hundreds of Woking council homes do not have vital fire safety checks or carbon monoxide alarms.

The regulator of social housing found that more than 400 homes were “overdue high-risk remedial actions” from fire assessments, with about half classified as “very high priority”.

Work on these should have been completed within 24 hours of being discovered. However, some cases are six months overdue.

For approximately a quarter of its houses, Woking Borough Council was also unable to confirm whether they had smoke detectors installed. It was also unable to assure whether carbon monoxide detectors were installed in 8 per cent of required properties, the regulator said.

As such, the watchdog found Woking Borough Council had breached the Home Standard with the potential for “serious detriment” to tenants.

Kate Dodsworth, of the Regulator of Social Housing, said the council “failed to meet our consumer standards and need to put things right promptly for tenants”.

She added: “It is vital that all social landlords have accurate, up-to-date health and safety data and use it to ensure their tenants’ homes are safe.

“As well as our ongoing investigations, we will be out on the front foot from next April inspecting landlords to make sure they are providing good-quality homes and services.”

The council brought the management and maintenance of its social housing back in-house last year and referred itself to the regulators to “fully understand the issues with the standard” of its homes.

The regulator said it will work with Woking Borough Council to remedy the breach and will continue to consider further action.

The Home Standard requires registered providers to meet basic requirements for the health and safety of the people living in their homes.

In respect of fire, the council must regularly assess risks and take safety precautions. It has now started to rectify these failures.

The regulator will work with the Woking Borough Council to address the issues, including ongoing monitoring.

Cllr Anne-Marie Barker

Responding to the regulatory notice, Cllr Ann-Marie Barker, Leader of the council, said: “There is nothing more important than the safety of our residents, yet this regulatory notice is a stark warning that the council has fallen short in its health and safety duty toward tenants on this occasion.

“I would like to apologise, on behalf of the council, to our housing tenants for failing to deliver the quality of service that is expected.

“We understand that the notice issued by the Regulator of Social Housing may cause tenants concern.

“Last year, with the support of council tenants, the council brought the management and maintenance of our social housing back in-house to help improve housing services.

“It was following this change that we were able to fully understand the issues with the standard of our homes.

“Most significantly, we undertook an extensive programme of fire risk assessments over the spring and summer which identified a significant number of remedial actions are required. The council is fully aware of its health and safety responsibilities and will work with the regulator closely to put in place a comprehensive programme to rectify these failures.

“Whilst we have much more to do, the council is determined to make the necessary improvements and is implementing a course of actions which will reassure tenants and the regulator of our commitment to delivering safe homes for residents.”

See also: Police Now Leading GBC’s Suspected Fraud Investigation

Questions have now been asked of Guildford Borough Council. ​In light of claims made by sacked interim officers who were managing council house maintenance at GBC, the  council has been asked to confirm that all Guildford council homes currently meet the required standards.

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