Friday, 14 December 2018
Tuesday, 1 November 2016
Updated: 2 November

Negligent council locks fire exits when public in building

Slough Council say they meant to lock-out Slough's homeless

Report and photographs: Paul Janik
The Curve: two sets of locked doors to keep public in & the homeless out

A Slough Times investigation has exposed senior council officials lying about locked fire exits at the council's £25 million 'sardine can' called The Curve.

Slough Borough Council's motto, created during the harsh authoritarian reign of chief executive Ruth Bagley (now suspended for more than 3.1/2 months) and her partners Cllr Rob Anderson and Cllr James Swindlehurst, and still used by the replacement Labour Party administration is:-

Providing excellent customer services is one of the key priorities of Slough Borough Council.

Yet bungling and potentially criminal negligence by anonymous council staff, caused the main emergency fire exits at the Curve building in the town centre to be locked despite the public being inside the building.

The inner front doors - locked with a Yale key

Berkshire Fire & Rescue made an unannounced fire safety inspection on Friday, 28 October, following the Slough Times complaint. The inspection revealed the building's main fire exit, at the front of the building opening out on to William Street, is regularly locked when the public are inside - not by one set of locked double doors but by two sets of locked double doors.

Another ground floor fire exit leading to the building's courtyard was locked and required an electronic key fob to unlock it.

Slough Council explained the fire exits were deliberately locked to keep-out Slough's homeless who, the council claimed, have been sleeping under the staircase in the dry, warmth and safety of the building.

On 31 March 2016, Cllr Anderson's uncaring autocratic regime closed down a homeless facility at 46 Stoke Road, less than a 5 minute walk away. Staff at the Foyer were told to find another job. Residents were told to get out.

Cllr Anderson's Labour councillors were told the place was drug infested but independent evidence was impossible to obtain.

Then Leader of the Council, Cllr Rob Anderson, and his then Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr James Swindlehurst, are known to blatantly lie, thus it is difficult to believe everything they say.

Cllr Anderson's closure of the Foyer was expected to 'save' £311,000.

Updated 2 November 2016

A Freedom of Information request made to Slough Council produced this response, supplied by a totally anonymous council person who desperately wished not to be identified:-

(3) Which member of the council's staff is personally, and legally, responsible for fire safety precautions and the public's safety at The Curve ?

Under the health & safety work act 1974, we all have a duty of care to collectively ensure the safety of staff and public. There is no 'legally' designated responsible officer.

(4) What training has that person received from the council about fire safety and public safety at The Curve ?

Please see response to answer 3 above.

(5) What safety qualifications does that person possess?

Please see response above.

(7) Which senior council staff person approved the opening of The Curve as a safe place for the public to enter into ?

The building would not have opened had it not been safe for the public. A FRA and Fire Strategy had been carried out on the building prior to its opening.

(8) On how many occasions has council staff escorted-out homeless people sheltering inside The Curve building ?

Approx 6 since the building opened but the site is well monitored so this is not a recurring issue.

(9) What accommodation does the council offer to Slough's homeless sleeping on Slough's streets ?

Homeless shelter in the centre of Slough. Many agencies work in partnership to support the needs of the community in Slough

The Slough Times has asked Slough Council to supply clearer and more detailed answers.

Reader's comments

  • Very sad piece!

    Homeless people die in winter months & this closure will increase that risk. What are SBC doing to minimise this risk?
  • Excellent. Fantastic work.
  • The doors are supposed to have thumb turns on them (Health & Safety) as it is a Public Building. If a fire breaks out people cannot get out unless the key holder comes with the key that can delay things if people need to exit the building quickly.

    The builders should have know this unless they were instructed to put a euro cylinder in that locks with a key - that is against building regulations.
  • If the predicted weather comes up I do not know how the homeless will cope.