Grenfell fire alarm firm at centre of fraud probe over ‘defective’ work for Hackney Council

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville has warned other councils and landlords about two former contracto

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville has warned other councils and landlords about two former contractors. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

The firm responsible for Grenfell Tower’s fire alarms is at the centre of a fraud investigation over work it carried out for Hackney Council.

Hackney Town Hall.

Hackney Town Hall. - Credit: Archant

Mayor Phil Glanville and housing boss Kim Wright have written to town hall chiefs across the country warning them about two companies who carried out “defective” fire safety work in the borough.

In 2011, Hackney Homes, the town hall’s former housing management company, oversaw a project including the installation of smoke and fire alarms across its housing stock.

The work was done by Lakehouse PLC, which also fitted the alarms at the Kensington block, and Polyteck Business Services Ltd, a sub-contractor of Lakehouse, which was not involved with work on Grenfell Tower.

Three years later, Hackney received allegations of fraud and overcharging relating to the same project.

During the investigation – in which five Hackney Homes employees were suspended – the council says it discovered some fire safety work was defective, such as fire alarms and emergency lighting systems not being fitted correctly.

Hackney ordered the work to be redone at the firm’s expense and alerted police, who are still carrying out a criminal investigation.

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Mayor Glanville said: “Whilst we don’t want to cause undue alarm, we want to give other councils the chance to check any works carried out by these companies.

“Grenfell and its aftermath raises many issues about the conduct of the construction industry, including sub-contractors, and also about arms-length management arrangements for housing.

“It is right that councils and social landlords should work together, share information and support each other to prevent future tragedies, which is why we have taken this action.”

Lakehouse has been contacted for comment and the Gazette has attempted to contact Polyteck.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “In July 2014 Hackney Council referred an allegation of fraud to the Complex Fraud Team. An investigation was launched and enquiries are ongoing.”

Ten people have been arrested. Of those, three men have been bailed until November. Five men and two women have been “released under investigation”.