Cherwell apologises for fire door danger

Cherwell District Council
Cherwell District Council

Cherwell District Council has apologised for its unsatisfactory response to concerns raised by two residents in one of its Build! project developments.

In April 2013 plans were submitted for 2 Broughton Road, to convert the building into three, one bedroom flats and a single two bedroom flat as part of the Build! scheme.

In June of 2016 a ground floor resident reported to the council that she had become trapped in a bedroom after its door, a fire door, closed and could not be opened.

The resident reported that she remained locked in the bedroom for 30 minutes until her partner came home and released the door.

In the email to CDC, seen by the Banbury Guardian, the resident claimed this had occurred twice to an elderly resident on the ground floor of the building and, while she was only trapped for 30 minutes, her partner often works away from home, in which case she would have had to call for outside assistance.

Fiona Brown of CDC responded the same day saying she would contact a contractor to come and check all of the door handles in the residence.

Fast forward 12 months and a workman installing a shelving unit in another first floor flat found himself trapped by a living room door he was unable to open.

As before, the resident reported this to CDC who arranged a site visit shortly afterwards to repair the door which had been identified as having too short a spindle.

Following the council’s repair of the fire door the workman returned to collect tools and decided to check out the repair only to find that the spindle had been extended with the use of a plastic wall plug, useless in the event of a fire.

The resident, who did not want to be named, said: “My issue isn’t that they didn’t respond but they responded inadequately.”

CDC said in relation to failing to act thoroughly by checking all the flats when the issue was first raised in 2016: “Whilst we believe we instructed remediation works to be undertaken on all four properties at 2 Broughton Road, we accept that a more systematic procedure should have been in place for us to monitor that this had been completed to a satisfactory standard.

“We acknowledge that from the resident’s point of view this situation was unsatisfactory and a cause for unnecessary anxiety.

“We take all health and safety and fire risks seriously and have learned lessons from this to ensure that going forward, we have better procedures in place to ensure complaints are recorded and followed up in a more robust manner.”

CDC added: “We no longer use both the initial contractor who undertook the work at 2 Broughton Road or the subcontractor who was appointed to undertake the repairs.

“We have also met with representatives of the fire service and fire consultants to review the fire protection measures throughout the building.

“Also, as a precaution, we have regularly carried out fire risk assessments for all our relevant properties.

Adding “Fire regulations to those properties continue to evolve and as such we continue to review health and safety and fire guidance as a matter of course.”

n The Broughton Road project is one of more than 140 Build! projects the council has undertaken.

Within Banbury these include projects on Drapers House, Calthorpe House, properties on the Southam Road, Dashwood Road and the new development by the Woodgreen Leisure Centre to name a few.