Fire crew watches flats 24/7 over cladding fears

More than £40,000 has already been spent hiring a fire engine to be on standby outside a block of flats which is covered in unsafe cladding.

Slough Borough Council is paying around £2,000 per day for firefighters to watch over the privately owned Nova House in Berkshire.

The cladding on the outside failed government safety tests introduced after the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Further investigations by the fire service revealed other hazards inside.

Image:Tenant Peter Bothwell fears lives are being put at risk until works are completed

Speaking to Sky News, tenant Peter Bothwell says residents needed to be rehoused until safety works are completed. Otherwise, he fears lives are being put at risk.

"We saw what happened to Grenfell and how quickly that building went up. Now that building was a lot higher than this building, but all that means is that this building will go up even quicker."

Although the council does not own the block, it says it made the decision to use taxpayers' money to pay for the private fire engine to prevent another tragedy.

It is now working with the freeholder, Ground Rent Estates 5 Ltd, to take over the building.

More than 80 people are believed to have died in the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June
Video:Sept: Grenfell death toll 'may be below 80'

The leader of Slough Borough Council, Sohail Munawar, said: "We have been concerned about the fire safety at Nova House since the terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower in June and have been closely monitoring the situation.

"Unfortunately it has now got to the stage where we feel, to protect the safety of the residents now and in the longer-term, we have to intervene directly and take over responsibility for Nova House.

"We know there is a great deal of work that needs to be done to Nova House to bring it up to the correct safety standards and we do not believe the current freeholder has the capacity to do what is needed for the residents."

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Video:Oct: Javid: 'We will not rest until justice is secured for Grenfell victims'

In a statement, Ground Rent Estates 5 Ltd said it supported the council's decision to acquire Nova House as it was better equipped to resolve the issues.

It said it has been working with the authorities to ensure all fire safety issues are addressed and has brought in fire wardens to monitor the building 24 hours a day.

While the cladding failed tests, the insulation beneath it is made of rockwool, which is accepted as having good fire resistant qualities.

Councillors have denied that it is unsafe for residents to stay in the flats, saying they are working on the advice of fire experts.

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