Former housing ministers under pressure over Grenfell fire

A review into fire safety in tower blocks has been put off by different housing ministers over a four year period.


Housing ministers have “sat on” evidence on fire safety since 2013 – with nothing being done.

Ronnie King, honorary administrative secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fire Safety and Rescue and a former Chief Fire Officer, slammed ministers on LBC Radio this morning.

Referencing the tragedy at Lakanal House, which killed six people and injured dozens more. Wide ranging reviews took place after the incident, but little was done.

King said: “We were strongly recommending this because the fire at Lakanal House spread within four minutes and came into the flat above and then went on to kill six people, regrettably.

“I wouldn’t have expected fire to spread like that if there had been automatic fire sprinklers installed.

“It’s nearly 11 years since it was reviewed, and successive ministers since 2013 have actually said ‘we’re still looking at it.’”

In October last year, former housing minister Gavin Barwell told MPs the government had “publicly committed” to reviewing part B of the fire regulations following the Lakanal House fire.

Barwell, who is now Theresa May’s Chief of Staff, said: “We have not set out any formal plans to review the building regulations as a whole, but we have publicly committed ourselves to reviewing part B following the Lakanal House fire.”

Also in the firing line was Brandon Lewis, who was told improving the regulations would damage the rate of housebuilding.

Lewis told MPs at the time: “We believe that it is the responsibility of the fire industry, rather than the Government, to market fire sprinkler systems effectively and to encourage their wider installation.

“The cost of fitting a fire sprinkler system may affect house building—something we want to encourage—so we must wait to see what impact that regulation has.”

But it goes back to Eric Pickles, who was urged by a coroner to take action.

His response was to reject the call for the retro fitting of sprinklers. He also dismissed calls for landlords to provide more information to aid firefighters.

DCLG have been approached for comment.

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