The Grenfell Tower fire shocked us all with its ferocity, the uncontrolled speed with which it engulfed the entire building and the appalling loss of life. The implications are being felt across the UK. Mercifully, the Liverpool HAT acquired, demolished and replaced many of Liverpool’s high rise residential tower blocks 15-20 years ago, so unlike many of my Parliamentary colleagues, there are only a handful remaining to deal with. I have contacted Knowsley Council, Liverpool City Council and the Registered Social Landlords (RSL) such as KHT which own the remaining towers.
I know that work by the Councils and the Merseyside Fire Brigade is ongoing to check the fire safety of remaining blocks in Halewood and South Liverpool and to test the fire risk attached to any cladding materials or materials placed in blocks during refurbishments as well as to consider what more can be done to ensure people can live safely in them. I will be passing on any advice I receive about particular blocks.
In the Statement made by the Prime Minister to The House of Commons on Thursday, I asked if she would ensure that lack of money would not inhibit landlords and local authorities from doing what is deemed necessary. As with her replies to other MPs, she seemed unwilling to be clear in her response that money would be made available. This is a worry and Labour MPs will continue to press the Government on this vital issue.
RSLs & Councils simply cannot be left to pick up the bill for the cost cutting & botching apparent in this appalling situation - not least because austerity cuts mean that they simply don't have the money to do so. In addition to ensuring the safety of residential blocks, it is clear that there may be an issue with schools, hospitals and privately owned buildings also. Labour will be pressing for a full & appropriate emergency response.