CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

The name in the frame is Grealey

04 August, 2017 — By John Gulliver

Mike Cooke

IVOR Grealey seems to have been right after all! He called me into his flat in the middle of the hectic exodus of tenants fleeing with heavy suitcases from the Taplow tower block on the night council leader Georgia Gould – pressed by Fire Service chiefs – ordered families to leave their homes because of a “fire risk”.

Ivor showed me how a cavity between his front room window on the 19th floor could act as a chimney for flames from a flat below because it was made of “flammable” plastic.

After I had revealed his views bells rang at the Town Hall, apparently, and window frames in the communal corridors on the 23 floors were replaced with fire-resistant plasterboard surrounds along with rock wool filling.

Ivor Grealey

Naturally, tenants would be entitled to expect replacement window frames in their homes – a tall order considering it would mean the replacement of more than 600 frames on the estate but who would dare to play God after the Grenfell tragedy?

In an interview with a colleague, Pat O’Neill, a surveyor – and, apparently, a man the council’s chief executive relies on as an expert – made it clear a combination of rock wool filling and plasterboard had “encapsulated” the windows making them safe.

However, in what is becoming a regular weekly correspondence with the council’s chief executive, Mike Cooke, it seems doubt still persists on whether all window frames on the estate will be replaced, though he accepts that the new frames in the communal corridors act as a “fire-break”.

Pat O’Neill

This week is proving a week of decision-making – fire experts are checking repair work on the estate while, it is understood, surveyors sent by tenants through their appointed lawyer, Hodge Jones and Allen, will independently investigate how safe their flats are.

A man who owns a flat in Taplow rang me one evening and with an irate voice described how the Town Hall seems to be operating on a kind of wartime basis of “make do and mend”. This got us through the Second World War but is this the way to carry out an extensive repair programme, he asked? Perhaps an unfair analogy but it makes a point.

Meanwhile, it seems as if this column may have set the council off in the right direction in changing window frames on the estate. And Mr Grealey, a retired builder, would have played no small part in changing minds.

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