Council rapped by regulator over fire and water safety issues

The social housing regulator has taken the unusual step of criticising a South coast local authority for failing to carry out risk assessments or to carry out the necessary work arising from them.

Arun District Council in West Sussex did not have a programme of fire risk assessments for its high-rise flats until 2016. It had previously only carried out assessments when issues were reported. The regulator says the council has now carried out the assessments, but it has not acted on all the issues raised in them. It also criticised the council over its approach to water safety, where it was operating a largely reactive system of risk assessments, failing to proactively identify and assess the risks of their tenants’ exposure to the bacteria Legionella.

In 2017, the council carried out a review of its health and safety arrangements and established a new team to lead on health and safety in its housing stock. After the regulator notified the council of its failure to comply with the Home Standard, it commissioned an external review, which in May 2018 found that there were “significant weaknesses” in its current system. The regulator said the council’s actions constituted a breach of the Home Standard, through creating “the potential for serious detriment to Arun District Council’s tenants”.

By Patrick Mooney, editor