Incident update: Bow crane collapse

town hall

6 August 2020

Almost four weeks have now passed since the collapse of a crane at a building site in Gale Street, Bow. A resident of Compton Close was tragically killed when the crane struck her home. Our thoughts are with her loved ones and with all those who have been affected by this tragic incident.

We recognise the enormous impact that the incident has had on everyone who has had to leave their homes and as your council, we wanted to take this opportunity to write to you to explain the role of the various organisations involved, to set out what has happened since the collapse and what we expect to happen in the coming months.

The Metropolitan Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are both responsible for investigating the circumstances that led to the collapse and are overseeing removal plans to ensure they are safe and carried out in a way that preserves evidence. They are currently in control of the site.

Swan Housing is responsible for securing and removing the crane and for making the remaining partially built structure safe. They have appointed a specialist contractor to carry out this work.

Gateway Housing is responsible for providing accommodation and other support to residents of Compton Close and David Hewitt House. Gateway should be the first point of contact for these residents.

Remus Management is responsible for Ladyfern House. Accommodation and other support for the residents of Ladyfern is being provided by an insurance company and Remus are managing that relationship. Remus should be the first point of contact for Ladyfern House residents.

Tower Hamlets Council is responsible, as the local authority, for ensuring that the needs of residents are being met by the organisations involved and for providing whatever support we can to help make that possible. For example, we have been working to accelerate various highways permits and parking suspensions to allow work around the site to take place swiftly. We have also been helping to coordinate meetings between the partners involved in the weeks since the incident.

Stabilisation and removal of the crane

Stabilising and removing the crane will be among the most complex operations of its kind to be undertaken in London for many years.

Until this week, the best assessment of the technical experts was that three months was a realistic timescale for completing the recovery of the crane. That estimate has now been revised.

They now believe that if a plan of work can be agreed in the very near future and if no further delays are experienced, it could be possible to complete the operation in four months. However, we need to be realistic that winter weather, the Covid-19 pandemic, or any number of other routine project delays, could mean the operation takes longer than four months.

We are not in a position at this stage to guarantee a specific timescale and we do not want to tell you one thing now, only to disappoint you later. We would therefore encourage you to plan for a range of between four and six months. We promise to come back to you, each month, with a further update. As the operation progresses, we hope that the estimates will become more specific.

This will clearly be disappointing news and we don’t underestimate the impact that being away from your homes for so long without any prior warning will have. Gateway Housing and Remus Management are committed to making sure you have suitable accommodation during this time and you will find more details below about what the council is doing to offer support.

We know that for those of you with young families this will be particularly challenging. As we approach September and the reopening of schools, we will be in touch with more information to make sure your children can return to the classroom with as little difficulty as possible.

Access for residents

Safety continues to be the highest priority and a significant cordon remains in place around the site.

You will know that a limited number of Compton Close residents have so far been able to move back into homes on the far side of the road where a hoarding has now been erected. We do not expect anyone else to be able to move back permanently until the removal operation is complete and the partially built structure on the building site has been secured.

Following a careful safety assessment, it has been agreed that residents of Ladyfern House and David Hewitt House will be able to make accompanied visits, limited to 30 minutes, to collect essential belongings from their homes. Remus Management and Gateway Housing are coordinating timed slots for their respective residents to allow this to happen safely.

Risk assessments on properties in Compton Close will be conducted by the council’s building control team in the coming week and case by case decisions will be made on whether temporary access to collect belongings can be granted safely.

Council support

In the past week, the council has taken steps to provide further support for all residents.

We know that some people had applied for help from our Resident Support Scheme but had been unsuccessful for various reasons. We have now relaxed the means testing criteria that normally applies to the scheme so that residents affected by the crane collapse can access support to purchase clothing and/or food.

We have made support worth £200 per person available for clothing as well as four weeks of food support. Any resident who has made an unsuccessful application in recent weeks prior to the relaxing of the criteria can ask for that application to be reviewed.

To apply for support through the scheme, you should visit www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/RSS or call 020 7520 7217. Residents who need to request a review of a previous application should email lwpqueries@northgateps.com

In all cases, it is important to explain that you have been impacted by the crane collapse and would like to be considered using the new relaxed criteria.

 We are also pleased to confirm that any resident who has had to move out of their property as a result of this incident will not be required to pay council tax for the duration. This is being arranged directly by council officers without the need for residents to submit individual requests to the council tax team.

Emotional support 

We understand that for many residents, this has been a traumatic experience. Telephone support from the British Red Cross has been available by phone since the incident and so far, two households have taken up this offer. More recently we have expanded the provision to include Tower Hamlets Talking Therapies. We understand that nine households have registered for that support so far.

To access support from the British Red Cross, you should call 0808 196 4051 from 10am to 6pm. To register with Tower Hamlets Talking Therapies, you should call 0208 475 8080 from 9am to 5pm or visit www.towerhamletstalkingtherapies.nhs.uk

Useful contact details

Your ward councillors’ details are below:

Cllr Danny Hassell                                                     

danny.hassell@towerhamlets.gov.uk   

Cllr Helal Uddin                                              

cllr.helal.uddin@towerhamlets.gov.uk

To contact Gateway Housing, call 0208 709 4300 or email enquiries@gatewayhousing.org.uk

To contact Remus Management, call 020 7407 0538 or email London.admin@remus-mgmt.co.uk

Further information

The information above is relevant to everyone impacted by this incident. We hope it helps to set out the roles of the different organisations involved. Gateway Housing and Remus Management will continue to provide additional information that is specific to their residents.

It will not be possible for any of the organisations involved to respond to individual requests for information about the progress of the operation to remove the crane but we will write to you again next month to provide a further update. If there are any significant developments before then we will make sure you are informed.

We are also in discussions with Gateway and Remus about attending any meetings that might take place in the coming weeks.

Posted on Thursday 6th August 2020