Legally required fire safety information about Grenfell Tower following the building’s refurbishment was left “incomplete” and “insufficient” after the completion of the project, the inquiry heard today.
Following yesterday’s revelation that she had binned notes relating to the refurbishment after the fire, Claire Williams, project manager at Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) continued giving evidence today.
She was grilled about fire safety information that should have been gathered at the end of the project to satisfy health and safety information and building safety laws.
A risk assessment carried out at the conclusion of the refurbishment in April 2016 was shown, which identified a “high priority” need to gather together information required under ‘Regulation 38’ of the building regulations, and made Ms Williams responsible for doing so.
This requires the compilation of a wide range of fire safety documentation to ensure future management and safety assessments of the tower could be carried out effectively by the TMO.
Ms Williams was provided a memory stick by contractor Rydon with the information contained. Asked if she checked whether it was complete, she said: “I can’t say hand on heart that I checked exactly.”
The inquiry was then shown an extract from one of the expert witnesses, Dr Barbara Lane, which concluded: “None of the relevant sections was fully completed with the relevant fire safety information and a substantial quantity of the provided content… was insufficient to assist the responsible person to operate and maintain the building with reasonable safety.”
Ms Williams was also asked about an incomplete health and safety file that she took responsibility for preparing at the end of the project and that was missing several key documents.
This file – which is used to provide a record of the building to ensure any future works can be carried out safely – should have identified any hazardous materials and the relevant statutory compliance of the building.
As a result of changes in regulations as the project came to a close in 2015, it was not clear who was going to be responsible for compiling this file.
As the inquiry has heard, Artelia, consultants to the TMO, offered to take on the work of compiling the file – a role known as construction, design and management advisor – but Ms Williams turned down the offer and attempted to do it herself.
“Is the truth that you were offered a golden opportunity to ask them to do this and do it right and you turned it down?” asked Richard Millett, counsel to the inquiry.
Ms Williams said that she was disillusioned by Artelia’s service by this point, and that she hoped she would be provided enough information to complete this herself, despite never having done it before.
Earlier, the inquiry was shown extracts from Ms Williams’ witness statement, which alleged “disruptive conduct from a small number of residents” at public meetings.
Ms Williams said she meant that “people with strongly held views might use your meeting to express that… and stop the rest of the group from hearing the information you are trying to get across”.
As a result, the TMO switched to consulting via newsletters and drop-in meetings, although Ms Williams accepted that newsletters represented “telling, not listening”.
She later confirmed that residents were not asked about what type of cladding they would prefer at these drop-in sessions.
Ms Williams was also pressed on her claim that Simon Lawrence, project manager at Rydon, had given specific assurance that the cladding would not burn.
No document of this assurance has been found, despite Ms Williams insisting that it was minuted, and Mr Lawrence has firmly denied that such an assurance was given.
Shown an email she sent containing relevant information about the refurbishment on the morning of the fire, she was asked why she did not refer to this assurance.
On sight of the email, an emotional Ms Williams collapsed into tears. She later explained that she had been “directed as to what information we needed to provide” and that “there were other things that were going on”.
Asked what she would have done differently in the project at the end of her evidence, she said she wished she was able to find the minutes of the meeting where she claims she had received this assurance from Rydon.
The inquiry will resume at 2pm tomorrow with Ms Williams’ colleague at the TMO, Peter Maddison, due to give evidence.
He will be asked why he only released diaries and workbooks relating to the project last Friday, a matter that may eventually result in formal police investigation.
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