Sheffield Council apologises for decade-long ‘catalogue of poor record keeping’ in relation to Hanover Tower cladding

Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for community safety has apologised on behalf of all involved in dangerous cladding put on a tower block.

Friday, 1st January 2021, 12:30 pm

Councillor Paul Wood, cabinet member for community safety, spoke about the issue in a meeting of the safer and stronger communities scrutiny and policy development committee.

He said: “Some of the questions I’ve asked consistently on the missing information are why is it missing? Where is it missing from? What department is it missing from? And what has come back of course is there isn’t a single source because part of it is when this was first commissioned I understand Sheffield Homes wasn’t directly under the council. When Sheffield Homes was transferred into the council and closed down I understand a lot of paperwork was missing from that period.

“I was also told there was additional paperwork missing because of a fault of the Capita computer system then there is other paperwork missing from Lovell so there isn’t a single source you can point to and I find that really disappointing.

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Councillor Paul Wood

“It’s something I feel a responsibility to apologise for on behalf of all of us who have been elected members in this because remember this started off under the Liberal Democrats and continued under the Labour group and I think we all are very sincerely sorry this situation happened.”

The meeting followed the release of findings from a three-year investigation into why combustible cladding was put on the building.

Before the cladding was fitted on the tower block at Exeter Drive, Broomhall, residents were told safe aluminium material would be used. But years later government lab tests – introduced in the wake of the Grenfell disaster – exposed it as a cheaper aluminium composite material with ‘no flame retardant properties’.

The council began immediately replacing it with solid aluminium cladding as the investigation was launched.

Investigators drew from various documents including emails, planning applications and drawings but said not all documentation relating to the project was retained and it is impossible to say with certainty what is missing.

This was partly blamed for a lack of clarity on the council’s role in the decision.

The investigation also failed to find any information illustrating if steps were taken to check the safety of the cladding before it was put on.

Coun Wood added: “It shouldn’t happen and the biggest lesson I’ve learned from this is we need secure systems for storing information for the future so we never have a situation where we can’t pinpoint why a decision was made – irrelevant of which party or person.

“This is a catalogue of poor record keeping across 10 years and I don’t think there is a single point or a single person you can blame for that but it certainly means it’s something we as a council need to address and make sure every decision we make on major project work is fully recorded.

“So I apologise to everyone at Hanover Tower and all the residents, on behalf of collectively 10 years of different people being involved in this.”

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