Galleria safety fears

MORLEY GALLERIA traders want Bayswater to prioritise a fire safety audit of the shopping centre, saying it is an accident waiting to happen.

Last week the Voice reported Bayswater councillor Chris Cornish had met with CEO Andrew Brien and requested they check if any of the flammable aluminium cladding, which contributed to the Grenfell tower fire, was used in local high rise buildings.

Illegal

But at this week’s council meeting Nick Olympia, from the Watch and Gold Spot kiosk in the Galleria, said the city should be focusing on, “the 17 or so illegal kiosk structures and dozens of temporary obstructions I see every day” at the Galleria.

There’s a number of kiosks in the centre aisles of the galleria without planning approval, and some of them don’t leave enough space for a 2.5 metre thoroughfare, which is the width required for a safe evacuation.

• Hours after the fatal explosion at Morley Galleria in 2015. File
photo

Council refused the kiosks retrospective approval back in February, but two traders at this week’s meeting said it was still a problem.

“The Grenfell tower happened a hemisphere away,” Mr Olympia wrote in his question to council, and said the 2015 high voltage switch explosion at the Galleria that “claimed two lives happened on your doorstep.”

“People tripped trying to negotiate their way around the obstacles when there was no emergency. What will happen when there’s a real emergency?”.

Cr Cornish said “as was evidenced in the media tonight we do have properties in WA that have got this [flammable cladding], the state government have identified a property they’re involved with in Vincent so this is a real risk.

“I’m not saying the Galleria’s not,” he said, but he didn’t see how it related to the flammable cladding issue (the Galleria explosion was due to an electrical problem).

“It happened in Dubai, it happened in Docklands, and we’ve now become aware that a property in Vincent has this. I’m not going to turn my back on that and just focus on the Galleria.”

Bayswater mayor Barry McKenna said “our planning department will take note of what’s been raised” by the questions.

Meanwhile, a Leederville building has been identified as having similar cladding to the Grenfell Tower.

Foyer Oxford is a youth housing block that helps homeless or at-risk kids get back into study or work.

Completed in 2014, the 98-unit building’s owned by the Housing Authority and run by Foundation Housing (a private not-for-profit providing homeless services).

Housing minister Peter Tinley told parliament on June 27, “I was advised that the external cladding used on Foyer Oxford in Leederville contains combustible material and is not compliant with the Building Code of Australia.

“The construction of the building was contracted by Foundation Housing, and partially funded by the Housing Authority.

“I stated last week that the safety of tenants is my highest priority and, although the residents of Foyer Oxford are not public housing tenants, the Housing Authority is assisting Foundation Housing, which has the responsibility to address and remedy the situation.

“Until such time as it can be rectified, Foundation Housing has commissioned 24-hour security on site in order to mitigate any risk. As previously stated, all new construction and refurbishments undertaken on the Housing Authority’s own properties comply with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia.”

by DAVID BELL

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