Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Tories sat on tower block fire safety report for 4 years


It's not fair to blame Gavin Barwell alone for the shocking lack of government action on the damning fire safety report he sat on, after all, he was only the latest in a succession of Tory housing ministers who failed to act on the report recommendations.

The report was produced after the Lakanal House fire in Camberwell cost the lives of six residents. It recommended the instillation of sprinklers in 4,000 tower blocks across the United Kingdom and was completed in 2013.

Ever since then successive Tory housing ministers have fobbed off these fire safety concerns by saying they're looking into it. Theresa May's newly promoted Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell succeeded Brandon Lewis, Kris Hopkins and Mark Prisk who also sat on the report.

The deadly fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington is exactly the kind of incident the ignored report was intended to prevent.

Aside from the parliamentary report into tower block fire safety measures, there is also the heartbreaking blog post from the Grenfell residents' group warning about the lack of fire safety measures in the block and the fact that residents had actually been advised to remain inside their properties in the case of fire, which would certainly have cost residents their lives given the size of the fire.

This kind of fire safety negligence from the building management is certain to be prosecuted, but no doubt Tories like Gavin Barwell and his predecessors will be allowed to get away with their role in this tragedy.

Had they acted on the report instead of sitting on it for 4 years, surely the negligent building owners would have had to have acted to comply with any new fire safety laws.

It seems Barwell and his predecessors will get away with it in much the same way as Theresa May and Amber Rudd are being allowed to get away with letting two avoidable terrorist incidents happen on their watch. Manchester Arena happened because an Islamist extremist who was known to be plotting a terrorist attack against the UK was allowed to pass unhindered through the UK border, then left unwatched as he planned and executed his depraved attack. The ringleader of the second was such a well known extremist that he'd been featured in a TV show called "The Jihadists next door".

This shockingly indifferent Tory attitude to public safety costs lives. But they're only the lives of "the lower orders" so Tories simply don't care. If the report had detailed how the Houses of Parliament were a deadly fire trap (rather than 4,000 tower blocks across the UK) do you honestly think they'd have done nothing but sit on the report for four years until parliament burned down with them inside it?

Of course not, because in their minds they are important, and we're just disposable plebs. If they died in a fire or a terrorist attack it would be a terrible tragedy, if we die in a fire or a terrorist attack it would be an unfortunate incident that doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things because there are plenty more ordinary plebs to replace us.

Gavin Barwell and his Housing minister predecessors need to be questioned immediately about how this tower block fire safety report came to be sat on for 4 years.


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