Housing fire safety a civil emergency – Brinton

Sal Brinton, who sits on the All Party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group has said that the Government should declare a civil emergency over fire safety in tower blocks and compensate those who had been evacuated. During the flooding damage in 2015, the Government extended a Council Tax discount to help those who had been badly affected. Sal said that those evacuated should have their Council Tax suspended:

This is a civil emergency. The government must guarantee funding for local councils to do everything necessary to keep people safe and compensate those who have had their lives disrupted.

Camden Council did the right thing by promptly evacuating unsafe tower blocks. But those affected need to be treated fairly and with dignity.

The government should provide funding to ensure people evacuated from their homes don’t have to pay a penny of council tax until they’ve returned.

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  • Civil Emergency?

  • If memory serves me, the middle class residents of areas prone to flooding were supported in getting affordable insurance, ad it’s apparently outwith their control. I wonder if there will be a similar drive to help people in poor areas to keep their premiums down, given it’s no more their fault if they live in a property at risk of fire or in a high crime area.

  • Sue Sutherland 25th Jun '17 - 1:34pm

    Just heard on the radio that Teresa May said in parliament that there were 600 tower blocks thought to be affected. So far only 37 samples have been received and 35 of these have been tested and they have all failed.
    Apparently there are councils who “know” their buildings are safe because of tests they have done themselves. If I were living in a tower block I would want any cladding to be tested again. Some councils haven’t yet told tenants that their building are unsafe now they know the results of the tests.
    Of course this is a civil emergency and councils will need financial support to sort out the problem. It may not just be tower blocks that are affected because other public buildings like hospitals and schools may be affected as well as they were in Melbourne, Australia.
    I hope all our Councillors and activists will ask questions about these buildings in their local area because it’s something that needs sorting now if a fault in a fridge freezer can cause such loss of life. Who is to blame and what went wrong is something that can wait but I believe people’s safety is much more important. At the very least sprinklers and fire alarms should be installed in all tower blocks even if they are deemed safe.

  • “If memory serves me, the middle class residents of areas prone to flooding were supported in getting affordable insurance, ad it’s apparently outwith their control.”

    I’m not sure this is that comparable. It was in some cases impossible to get insurance for flood risk properties or in other cases extremely expensive and the only commitment was for existing insurers to offer reinsurance. In short it was impossible for there to be a market. Flood Re is an industry scheme where the only government commitment is in underwriting the scheme if the levy etc hasn’t built up enough funds to cover the costs of a flood event.

    AIUI it is similar to the way terrorism costs are dealt with. It isn’t just a middle class thing – indeed arguably it was more of an issue for less-well off people for whom insurance had become unaffordable rather than affordable-after-cutting-other-things.

    Certainly if there is an issue over unaffordable fire insurance this is something that should be looked at.

  • Helen Dudden 25th Jun '17 - 10:22pm

    I know a tenant, on the subject of fire safety, who for many years lived above a serious hoarder of rubbish. I think this is a serious wake up call on housing and safety.
    All aspects of tenant safety should be highlighted, any short fall with regards to the safety of all tenants be reviewed and strictly maintained.
    The serious situation we are in with housing must be a serious issue, and taken seriously.
    I’ve complained for so long about the shortage of homes, I wonder how many homes still don’t measure up to Decent Homes, the government guidelines.

  • Robin Grayson 26th Jun '17 - 10:29am

    In Manchester, Lib Dems are using Google Earth to pinpoint the older tower blocks in the midst of an ongoing construction boom. Normal Google Earth is useless for this task. However, by downloading free-of-charge 3D Google Earth Pro, even trees and houses are visible in 3D. All tower blocks pop-up in 3D showing all the floors, vertical walls and details of the roof. Location of stair-wells and lift shafts is often clear. Yesterday we published aerial images of 34 tower blocks in Manchester and recommend everyone interested to have a look, click here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317869623_Atlas_of_Tower_Blocks_of_Manchester_UK
    So far we have pinpointed 73 old tower blocks in Manchester by using 3D Google Earth Pro, and today we are listing which have cladding, after double-checking via Google ‘street view’. The speed and ease of using 3D Google Earth Pro is remarkable. If you would like guidance, I can be contacted via ALDC in Manchester.

  • So far we have only heard about tower blocks maintained by local authorities. I don’t believe for one moment that buildings in the public sector they are the only blocks affected.

    So whilst we should ensure local authorities have the resources to look after their tenants – something the government as the holder of the purse strings can assist with, we should ensure that whatever measures are put in place, are available to all tenants, regardless of landlord.

    As for determining reasonable levels of compensation etc. I suggest people would do well to read their own insurance documents and talk to their insurers to discover just what they would receive if their home either became uninhabitable or was destroyed by fire.

  • @Robin Grayson – Re: Manchester in 3D Google Earth Pro
    Interesting piece of work, both in terms of technology and in terms of what a small group of people can achieve.

    I suggest you prepare a short article as I’m sure some of the technical press would be interested in reporting your work.

  • Helen Dudden 27th Jun '17 - 9:14am

    These are a shocking lack of consideration for human respect and regard to human life.

    I suggest honesty and determination to resolve this situation, Decent Homes becomes top of the list and a Government review of housing. Empty housing, housing that could be brought up to the Decent Homes.

    The subject of decent housing should be the top of the list. A home is the most important part of our lives, a place to rest and relax with our families, for many this is failing.

  • Relevant and interesting article on the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40418266

    Seems fundamentally the problem is one of regulation which has created an ethos where the use of substandard materials is okay…
    Which will mean that it is unlikely that any individual person(s) or company(s) will be held responsible for what happened at Grenfell – a state of affairs that will disappoint many.

  • Helen Dudden 29th Jun '17 - 8:02am

    I have also pointed out the issues with so many residents living in one area. As I stated someone hoarding floor to ceiling rubbish and waste in their flat, it took several years to get the council or anyone interested. His social worker after several years found the funding.

    It was alleged a fridge freezer contributed to the fire, that’s another point. Faulty electrical appliances. If that is the case, then what is happening?

    Also, Decent Homes, how many empty properties are there still? How many large properties could realistically be useful?

    To cut corners on funding is not the answer, to look for savings realistically is not putting the population at risk from serious injury.

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