Over the past few months, we have been closely following the story of Millfield Manor in Newbridge, the housing estate where six homes burned down in less than 20 minutes at the end of March.
On the 31st March, a fire broke out in a row of six houses in a terrace. Within 20 minutes, all six houses were in flames.
The fire raised concerns major concerns.
According to the Building Regulations from the Department of the Environment, the walls separating buildings are required to “have a fire resistance of one hour or more” which means it should have taken several hours for fire to spread through the terrace.
The Council commissioned a firm of Fire Safety Engineers to carry out an inspection on a number of houses which the Council was given access to in Millfield and then furnish the Council with a report on Building Regulations, Part B (Fire safety Regulations) Compliance.
The report identified deficiencies in a number of areas relating to fire safety, an extensive list that naturally raised concern among residents.
At the time, the Council reiterated that the report only pertained to the ten houses examined and could not be represented as a commentary on any of the other houses on the estate which were occupied and which were the source of concerns by the residents.
The council recommended to the group of residents that concerned householders should commission their own individual reports and undertake any remedial work which might be identified as a consequence.
And so the residents have conducted their own reports.
Up until now, we’ve been referring in concrete terms about fire deficiencies in the vacant houses and speculating on how widespread the problem is throughout the estate.
Now we have confirmation that people in Newbridge, families, living with small children, are living in houses that are potential fire hazards, homes that are putting lives in danger.
But might the Council have any legal responsibility to intervene here?
It doesn’t appear so. Regulations didn’t require inspections for houses and the Council is adamant they went by the book.
Of course there are those who might argue the Council has a moral responsibility to do something.
For instance, what if a family with children says they don’t have the money to carry out these remedial works and they put the Council on notice of that? Are the Council then going to let them live in homes that they now know are unsafe or will they condemn the homes and put people out on the street?
And remember, we’re talking about 90 homes here.