Islington Council rejects FoI request on which private housing blocks failed cladding tests

Islington Town Hall. Photograph: Islington Council

Islington Council has rejected a Freedom of Information request for the names of the private housing blocks in the borough which have failed safety tests on their cladding since the Grenfell fire.

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington’s executive member for housing and development, has previously indicated that some private blocks have failed their cladding tests, but has declined to say which ones.

Now the council has formally refused to name the blocks, rejecting a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by the Islington Citizen.

In a letter rejecting the FoI, Dawn Forte-Khan, from the council’s environment and regeneration team, said releasing the information to the public could make the blocks targets for arsonists or terrorists.

She said: “Identifying those buildings as per your request could place the occupants at real and significant risk.

“Release of the information into the public domain could put people’s safety in jeopardy. Individuals, such terrorists and or arsonist, intent on doing harm, could access this information (details of buildings) to do harm.

“Disclosing information that could enable criminal behaviour against individuals is not in the public interest.

“As a local authority, we are charged with safeguarding the local community and disclosure would be a dereliction of that duty given the possible consequences.”

However, it was not clear from the letter why publicly naming council blocks with cladding problems, as Islington Council has done, would not cause a similar risk to public safety.

In June 2017, after the Grenfell Tower fire in Kensington, Cllr Ward named several council blocks where cladding was being tested for fire safety.

The council soon after publicly named Braithwaite House near Old Street as having ACM cladding.

The cladding was removed last summer.

Cllr Caroline Russell, for the Green Party, said she understood the council’s reasons for rejecting the FoI but called for residents in private housing to be told about the state of the cladding on their blocks.

“I fully understand why it is not appropriate for the council to to put this information in to the public domain,” she said.

“That is not to say that they shouldn’t be communicating openly and honestly with the people for whom these blocks are home.”