A housing chief has angrily denounced the leaking of a council report into safety concerns over high-rise council flats in Kirklees which spread fear amongst tenants.

Kirklees Council commissioned a review into the safety of its housing stock when it brought management of council housing back in-house.

The review, by an independent consultant, focused on key areas including fire safety, water hygiene, lift safety and asbestos management, as well as issues relating to governance, performance and compliance.

As a result the report made 50 recommendations for improvements.

The review was conducted between February and May this year and 31 of the recommendations have already been dealt with.

A report on the review was on the agenda for the council’s Cabinet meeting but was included in a private session meaning it would not be made public.

However, the report was leaked and when it was reported led to the council being “inundated” with enquiries from anxious tenants.

That meant the council had to send officers to hand deliver letters of reassurance to high rise blocks including two tower blocks already earmarked for demolition, Bishop’s Court and Holme Park Court in Berry Brow.

Clr Cathy Scott speaks at the Cabinet meeting

Speaking at a meeting of the Cabinet at Huddersfield Town Hall, Clr Cathy Scott, Cabinet member for housing, said the report had been “irresponsibly leaked” and added: “Building safety information needs to be communicated carefully, accurately and sensitively with tenants to ensure they are not unnecessarily alarmed.

“We have already seen examples from members in this chamber when they put out inaccurate information about a building being demolished, it wasn’t true, but they put it out in a newsletter that left us picking up the pieces with alarm for tenants.

“As a result of sensationalist headlines last week the council has had to ask officers to go out to door knock all the high rise to hand deliver letters to give tenants assurance.

“What I can say with certainty is that this council, members and staff put tenant safety at the forefront of what we do. Their safety is paramount.

“We will ensure all mitigation is in place while we carry out the necessary works included in the report.”

Clr Scott said 62% of the recommendations had been acted upon already “so the persons who wanted to get the sensationalism, unfortunately it’s very sad because all you have done is upset and put fear into tenants.

“Tenants have been kept informed and involved and reassured all the way with this and I would like to thank officers for their time and tenants for their kindness shown and want them to know that this is politicking at its highest and at its worst.”

The review was carried out in Spring as the council took back control of council housing from Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing.

A total of 48 recommendations were highlighted in the report by Robust Management Consulting, which were added to recommendations made in an earlier inspection, forming an improvement plan with 50 actions for the council to complete by the end of September 2023.

As part of the improvements, £30 million in capital provision has been allocated for building safety remediation to blocks with communal areas, in addition to £57 million for a high-rise building safety programme.

Nearly £2 million has also been earmarked for expanding the workforce to carry out the building safety improvements by creating 27 new positions within Homes & Neighbourhoods to enable inspections and improvements to be made.

It coincides with major reform in housing in recent years following the Grenfell tragedy, as well as the introduction of clearer safety legislation including the Social Housing White Paper 2020.