Bridport House: Now Hackney Council installs 24/7 fire wardens in ill-fated block as engineers spot suspect insulation

Bridport House in Bridport Place, on the edge of Hoxton Park. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Bridport House in Bridport Place, on the edge of Hoxton Park. Picture: Emma Bartholomew - Credit: Emma Bartholomew

Exasperated tenants in disbelief that anything else could possibly be wrong with Bridport House have set about conducting their own fire tests – after revelations the ill-fated Hoxton block might not meet safety standards.

Five fire wardens were posted on Friday night to patrol Bridport House 24 hours a day – and instead of “staying put” if a fire breaks out, as is common practice in modern tower blocks, occupants must now evacuate the entire eight-storey building.

Meanwhile Hackney Council has offered alternative accommodation to anyone who doesn’t feel safe and wants to leave while the problem is investigated.

The latest in a string of defects to beset the wooden framed building opposite Hoxton Park was spotted by engineers during work being carried out to repair external brickwork.

They have ordered a probe into the cavity wall insulation to ensure it complies with building regulations and fire safety standards.

Last summer the council had to dispel rumours the wooden-framed building built by Willmott Dixon was falling down.

In December test results revealed bricks were never fixed correctly, but works to install fixings behind them are now running three months behind schedule while legal agreements are drawn up between Hackney Council and Willmott Dixon.

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In February, the base of a huge metal balcony fell off – two years after concerns were flagged.

Now rumours are circulating that the latest problems could simply be an excuse to knock down the building altogether – and have set about carrying out their own investigations.

One resident who wished to remain anonymous told the Gazette: “I keep thinking in my head it’s a conspiracy and they want to pull it down.

“I cut a bit of the insulation out of the main cladding on the wall myself, and there was a bit on the balcony. I set light to it and it didn’t catch alight.

“I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s turning our lives upside down now. The way they threw the flats up was an experiment and things have been going wrong all the time for eight years.

“Now they are saying a bit of insulation doesn’t look right, and we’ll be told about the outcome.

“We are all terrified. Our lives are upside down, and we don’t know if we are coming or going. It’s like limbo land.”

The council did not say why the potential problem with the insulation had not been flagged up sooner.

Mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville said the fire wardens are a “temporary precaution”.

“There is no immediate risk to tenants, but we will always take every possible step to ensure our tenants and their homes are safe,” he said.

“I visited the Colville Estate on Saturday, alongside ward councillors, who were also there on Friday night. I will continue to work with residents over the next few weeks to ensure the council continues to respond appropriately. However, we understand that some residents may still feel concerned, which is why we have offered alternative accommodation to tenants if they would prefer not to stay in their home.”