Grenfell Tower block fire: Government ‘must speed up safety checks’


Fire safety checks must be sped up and widened in a bid to uncover the full picture following the Grenfell Tower block blaze, Labour has said.

Shadow housing secretary John Healey has criticised the Government for being “too slow to reassure residents” living in hundreds of other tower blocks across the UK, claiming the safety check process is “in chaos”.

Mr Healey also attacked the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) failure to list which tower blocks have been deemed safe and unsafe by cladding combustibility tests carried out in the wake of the fire which left at least 80 people dead.

In response to a written parliamentary question from Mr Healey, Housing Minister Alok Sharma said the DCLG would need more time to finish preparing its answer following the June 14 fire.

The announcement came ahead of a debate on the fire inquiry, to be chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Mr Healey said: “It is totally unacceptable that four weeks on from the Grenfell Tower fire ministers still don’t know and can’t say how many other tower blocks are unsafe.

“The Government has been off the pace at every stage in response to this terrible fire.

“Too slow to grasp the complexity of the help survivors need and too slow to reassure residents in 4,000 other tower blocks across the country.”

Mr Healey said ministers have “failed to take responsibility” for getting tower blocks fully tested or for funding remedial work needed when buildings have failed the test.

He said: “The result is a Government testing programme which is too slow, too narrow and too unclear.

“The fire testing process is in chaos as councils and housing associations don’t know what’s going on and residents are still fearful their homes are unsafe.

“Four weeks on, ministers must now act to widen the testing programme and reassure all high-rise residents that their homes are either safe, or that the Government will fund the urgent work to make them so.”

The debate comes just days after police announced that of the 129 flats in Grenfell Tower, they have spoken to residents from 106 of these and ascertained who was in those flats.

But they have been unable to speak to anyone from 23 of the flats.

Scotland Yard said it assumed that everyone in these 23 flats has died but “there is uncertainty” because they cannot be certain who was in these flats as there are no survivors.


World News


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