Delay to fire safety works at Margate towerblock Invicta House

Bin fire at Invicta House earlier this year Photo Li Jean-Luc Harris

Fire safety works due to have been carried out in June and July at Invicta House flats in Margate have been delayed due to the need to reappoint a contractor.

Thanet council published a tender for a contractor to undertake the improvement of fire safety measures within the block earlier this year.

Some £900,000 was earmarked for fire safety works at the isle six authority-owned blocks in Thanet council’s 2018/19 budget.

This followed detailed fire safety reports where a number of enhanced fire safety works were identified.

Revised risk assessments were carried out following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017 and additional fire safety works were identified.

Some works began in 2018 but a further £810,000 was required to complete the recommendations. This year another £100,000 was required to continue with non-urgent fire safety recommendations.

Works at 14 floor Invicta House in Millmead Road are to include upgrades for the communal fire alarm system and smoke detectors.

Photo Del Moorcroft

The block has been hit with a spate of deliberate fires over the past two years with the most recent last week when fire crews visited the site twice due to a bin chute fire and had to evacuate the whole block. Two people were treated for smoke inhalation.

In July an arson investigation was launched after the block suffered five fires in just one week.

Last year firefighters were called to the block three times in one week following a spate of deliberate fires, mainly in the rubbish chutes but one more worryingly in the stairwell.

A spokesperson for East Kent Housing said: “Fire safety enhancement works were due to start at Invicta House earlier in the year, however there has been a delay and we and Thanet District Council are in the process of re-appointing a contractor.

“We aim to complete the works by Spring 2020 and are keeping residents up to date on progress.  Work includes new front entrance, communal and kitchen doors, and enhancements to stairwell fire protection, the communal fire alarm system, and flat smoke detection.

“This work is part of a broader programme of fire safety works that are being delivered in a series of phases by East Kent Housing and Thanet District Council. In the meantime we continue to carry out fire safety work at Invicta House, including fire stopping, and we have ordered a new sprinkler system for the bin room on the ground floor.”

Fire crews at Invicta House Photo Abbie Small

Thanet council is due to carry out a public consultation on plans to ditch arrangements with East Kent Housing and bring its social housing service back under authority control.

Currently EKH manages all council housing stock for Thanet, Dover, Canterbury and Folkestone and Hythe.

Cabinet members approved the plan this month (October) with a report coming back to council early next year.

The action comes on the heels of revelations earlier this year that hundreds of council property tenants across east Kent had been awaiting gas safety certificates due to overdue Landlord Gas Safety Register assessments.

It then emerged that there were also grave concerns over potential further issues with fire safety, electrical certification, lifts and legionella testing.

In addition there was  the possibility of a criminal case being brought due to contractor P&R overpayments  which could ‘constitute fraud.’

An audit report published in July, covering all 17,000 properties managed by EKH across Thanet, Dover, Canterbury and Folkestone, said: “Approximately 4,800 issues identified on fire risk assessments remain outstanding. While work is ongoing to rectify some of the less technical issues, approximately 800 of those are overdue their recommended completion dates. “

Work has since been undertaken to deal with the outstanding issues.


  1. Nothing unusual there then since East Kent housing has taken over hardly any repairs get done. In any of the tower blocks most of them are rundown and are in a disgusting state I need all repairing to the lift service their bin shoots they’re stairwells and every landing

    • The Fire Safety Order Act 2005 came into being 6 years before EKH became responsible for managing the building, during those 6 years it was TDC’s direct responsibility. Most will point at EKH as being at fault, yet they are effectively the managing agent and should have had oversight from TDC.

  2. Yet , TDC are still the freeholders and have the ultimate responsibility for fire safety. But it was decided to keep expenditure on maintenance across the estate to a minimum in order to be able to afford to build new homes which has greater political capital.
    TDC were well aware of what was’nt being done and hid behind the protection of not being able to prosecute themselves. and the “major works’l get out when it came to fire safety.
    Many at EKH are/were employees that transferred to EKH from TDC housing . EKH is just a convenient place to put the blame and protect TDC, both bodies are equally at fault.
    So little will be achieved by a costly reshuffle of responsibilities and setting up new departments. Much easier for there to be an effective external oversight of what is/isn’t done. TDC hardly needs more to do, its hardly a shining beacon of efficiency and quality.

  3. TDC are the freeholder at Arlington house and for decades have avoided taking their responsibilities seriously .The failings in Arlington House and Invicta house Have only been taken seriously when KFRS issued enforcement notices . When will TDC senior officers be held to account For their increasing failures?

    • The KFRS report on Arlington was a TDC instigated move, try getting KFRS to be as diligent TDC’s social housing, won’t happen , reports at Invicta are an endless exercise , all the time you have those with an incendiary inclination either living in the building or having access to it, complete fire safety is almost impossible.
      Ex KFRS officers were (and maybe still are) used as fire risk assessors, to say the reports were inventive and flexible would be no understatement, aided and abetted by EKH/TDC.
      If you want total safety , empty the housing revenue account and get on with it. You can’t apply national standards with the revenues from rents in one of the cheapest parts of the south east, so you either raid the HRC / reserves or ask the council tax payers to cough up.

  4. A note.The Kfrs enforcement notice atArlington house did not come about as a result Of TDC actions . They consistently ignored lessees representations about failings to fire and safety provision . In fact the senior management at TDC including Homer and Porter and the previous head of Estates did nothing . IT was lessees at AH who pressurised Kfrs into taking action .

  5. At last they are going to do what should have been done long ago: fit a heat activated sprinkler system In the building.

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