Photograph by ChiralJon on Flickr.com
The Grenfell Tower fire is a tragedy that has shocked the whole country, and it is only made worse by the fact that this devastation could have been avoided.
Thanks to a dogmatic drive to cut corners and cut ‘red tape’, all in the pursuit of making a little more money, the residents of Grenfell Tower are either dead or trying to rebuild their lives.
It is clear that we need to review fire regulations, but we also need to push back against the constant attacks on ‘health and safety culture’.
Health and safety regulations are there for a reason, to protect the citizens of this country. These protections were hard won following decades of campaigning, and they should not be sacrificed at the altar of profit, so that a few rich people can get even richer.
In the case of the Grenfell Tower fire, we saw that corners were cut on the external cladding to save a paltry amount of money, and this led to the destruction of countless lives.
After this was established, I contacted Bolton at Home to check whether any tower blocks in Bolton had the same type of flammable cladding. They told me that none of their towers in Bolton had this type of cladding, but that they had been considering putting cladding on three of their tower blocks in order to help with insulations. However, they have now abandoned these plans in a direct response to the Grenfell Tower fire.
I was pleased that the Government ordered the testing of cladding on 600 tower blocks across the UK, and that the Queens Speech confirmed there will be a public inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower, which included a commitment to publish interim findings.
However, there is still significantly more that must be done.
I believe that the initial findings of the inquiry must be published as soon as possible to allow action to begin on any emerging recommendations as swiftly as possible.
I also believe that the Government should pay close attention to the inquest into the deaths of the Grenfell Tower residents, to ensure that they receive justice and that we learn as many lessons from this tragedy as possible.
The Government should also set out a plan to act immediately on the recommendations from the Coroners' reports after the Lakanal House and Shirley Towers fires, which it has had since 2013, by retrofitting high-rise blocks with sprinklers, starting with the highest risk buildings, and overhauling building regulations.
We need to ensure that residents have up-to-date advice about what to do in the event of a fire in their block and that full safety checks are undertaken for all high-rise blocks, to ensure there are no serious outstanding fire risks.
There are thousands of tower blocks around our country and every person living in one deserves answers about why this happened and what will be done. The tragic fire that occurred at Grenfell Tower must never be allowed to happen again.
I have written to Alok Sharma MP, the new Minister of State for Housing and Planning, about this issue, and urged him to improve fire safety laws by implementing the above recommendations.