Cladding being removed from two Portsmouth tower blocks as safety precaution

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Portsmouth City Council have announced that they’re removing cladding from two high-rise buildings as a precautionary measure.

Following independent testing, cladding on Horatia House (pictured above, via Google Street View) and Leamington House in Somerstown is being removed to ensure the highest safest standards are in place.

No other blocks are affected.

Councillor Luke Stubbs, Deputy Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: “The safety of our residents is an absolute priority.

“Like all councils, we have been working with the government and fire service to review our buildings. As a precaution we submitted some cladding for testing and the results that came back said the cladding on Horatia House and Leamington House was a fire risk.

“As a result, we are removing the cladding from those buildings. Protection of Portsmouth’s residents is our number one priority and we will not comprise on safety standards.

“We will be removing the cladding as quickly as we can — in the meantime, we would like to reassure residents we have conducted a full assessment of the buildings with Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service, and the buildings are safe to stay in with all of the existing safety measures still in place.

“The buildings have been designed and built with fire safety in mind providing fire separation and containment with protected fire escape routes.

“Portsmouth City Council tower blocks have had occasional instances of fires within flats over the past few years, in every instance the fire has been contained within the property where the fire commenced, as the building is designed to do, all other neighbouring residents have not been impacted while the fire service fights the fire.”

As an extra precaution, council staff will be present in the two buildings 24 hours each day for as long as necessary. Letters are being delivered to residents of Horatia House and Leamington House explaining the precautions being taken.

Anyone with concerns about the situation can call 02392 824 244 or visit the Somerstown Hub community information point, where the local area housing office will be open ‘til 8:00pm this evening (Friday 23rd June 2017), and from 8:00am to 5:00pm on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th June, returning to normal opening hours next week (8:30am to 5:00pm from Mondays to Thursdays, and 8:30am to 4:30am on Fridays).

The council are also holding a special fire safety information event on Tuesday 27 June at the New Theatre Royal on Guildhall Walk. From 6:30pm to 7:30pm, residents will be able to hear from the council and Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service and discuss any concerns.

This heightened focus on fire safety in tower blocks is just one instance of increasing nationwide consciousness of such precautions following the Grenfell Tower fire in London, which claimed a presumed 79 lives.