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Councillors call for transparency about post-Grenfell Tower fire safety checks

James Harrison

Safety assessments carried out on buildings in the Royal Borough following the Grenfell Tower fire should be made public, say town hall chiefs.

The intervention by senior local authority members came after hotel chains Travelodge and Premier Inn refused to release findings of inspections on their properties carried out since the June 14 blaze.

The council also warned they may contract its own advisors to carry out checks if it felt it necessary.

The death toll from the London fire has since risen to 80 and left hundreds of people homeless.

On Friday, June 23, the Advertiser contacted Premier Inn, which has a hotel in Kidwells Park Drive, following a BBC Newsnight report the previous day (Thursday). In this the firm said it was ‘extremely concerned’ about three of its sites, including Maidenhead, which did not ‘appear to meet the required fire standards’.

The company later issued a statement which said: “We have been assured by an independent fire expert that all our hotels are safe to operate and that we have robust fire safety measures and evacuation procedures in place to protect our guests and teams.”

It added: “We can confirm that the cladding on these hotels is not the same as the cladding used on Grenfell Tower.”

However, at the time of writing, almost two weeks since the initial query was sent, the Advertiser was yet to be told which ‘independent fire expert’ had assessed the Maidenhead Premier Inn or what the findings of that assessment had been.

A similar response was received from Travelodge, which runs a hotel in King Street.

A statement from the firm said: “Our external safety officers have confirmed that our comprehensive fire safety measures mean that our buildings remain safe to operate.”

When pressed for further details, a spokesman for the company said it would not ‘comment on individual hotels at this stage’.

The response from the two national firms met with short shrift from the leader of the Royal Borough, Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside).

When asked whether companies carrying out fire safety assessments in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire should make their findings public, his response was ‘totally, no doubt about it’.

This was echoed by Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield), cabinet member for planning.

Cllr Dudley also raised the prospect of the council arranging its own checks on properties in the Royal Borough.

“If there was a situation where we didn’t believe the answers given to the council were of substance, I would want to bring in our own advisors,” he said. “I’m not saying that will be the case, but that’s an area I will be personally delving into.”

He added: “[At the moment] I won’t say I’ve got concerns, but I wouldn’t say all my queries have been satisfied yet.”

He also said the issue would be raised at Wednesday’s meeting of the council’s Planning & Housing Overview & Scrutiny Panel.

Premier Inn representatives are expected to attend, as well as from housing associations Radian and Housing Solutions.

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