Camden Council survey reveals safety fears for tenants and leaseholders

Camden Council's temporary town hall at the Crowndale Centre. Picture: Creative Commons/Philafrenzy

Camden Council's temporary town hall at the Crowndale Centre. Picture: Creative Commons/Philafrenzy - Credit: Archant

Almost 40% of Camden Council tenants and leaseholders did not feel safe in their homes, according to a survey conducted in 2019 and 2020.

The town hall conducted the poll in order to inform a new Resident Safety Charter which it has now produced - and which is set to be approved by the council's cabinet in July.

The survey generated the highest response to a Camden survey in five years. There were 3,507 responses from more than 10 per cent of council homes.

Of those feeling unsafe, many wanted to see better fire safety infrastructure, including alarm systems and fire escapes.

An analysis of the survey in council documents states: “Residents told us that they would like to find out about fire and other types of safety information through letters, emails and the Camden Magazine. 

“They would also like to get fire safety information from the council website, via posters, through their tenants and residents association (TRA) reps and council meetings and the London Fire Brigade. 

“People told us that there were things that the council could do to make them feel safer, with almost half the responses looking for improvements in fire and building safety systems. 

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“A significant number – 19 per cent – of responses were about installing and testing fire alarms and smoke detectors, and a further 10 per cent were about improvements to fire escapes.”

The new charter commits the council to a number of responsibilities on council homes by 2025, a date which councillors have in the past expressed a wish to see speeded up.

Further analysis of the survey responses found that over 20 per cent called for the need for evacuation signage and fire safety training and for more knowledge about the safety of residents’ own buildings and cladding.

There were also comments on the number of housing patrols and the delivery of repairs.

The town hall's draft charter commits to keep homes and buildings safe, roll out training on safety, be transparent, and to “always listen to you about safety”. The document will be shared in late summer of this year subject to approval from residents.

The council will also pledge to install smoke detectors in every tenanted council home, to install 30-minute fire resistant doors to every communal or front door in need of one, and to take legal action against residents who increase fire risks.

Cllr Meric Apak

Cllr Meric Apak - Credit: Archant

Other pledges are also set to be made on clear signage and information, such as residents being able to access safety information about their own homes through fire risk assessments published online.

There will also be a promise for repairs' operatives to be on hand within six to 24 hours of an issue that affects safety being reported.

The proposed charter reads: “We want to make your homes safer. In 2025, we want everyone who lives in a Camden council home to live in a safe, well maintained building. We will be making changes. 

“We will be making physical improvements to our homes to make them safer, but we know that safety isn’t just about bricks and mortar.

"We will also work with you, your neighbours and your community to make sure that everyone knows how to keep themselves and the people around them safe at home. 

“We will make sure that you always have a voice in decisions made about safety in your home and that you always have access to information about the safety of where you live.”

You can read the full draft charter and survey results here.

Early last year, the equivalent report from a year earlier was brought to the town hall housing scrutiny committee - then, more than half of council tenants felt unsafe according to a similar survey.