London: In the aftermath of the heavy fire that broke out at the Grenfell House tower block on Wednesday, the Government led by Prime Minister Theresa May is receiving flak for not paying heed to the fire safety warnings that were issued.
The Prime Minister’s new chief of staff Gavin Barwell had allegedly failed to review the safety during his tenure as housing minister, despite it already having been delayed for years. His predecessor, Brandon Lewis declined to bring in regulation forcing developers to fit sprinklers because he said it was not the Government’s responsibility, reports The Independent.
Pressure continued to mount with the leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn preparing to attack the ministers with all guns blazing.
Suggesting spending cuts may also have a role to play, he said: “If you deny local authorities the funding they need, then there is a price that’s paid.”
“A review took place after the fire in Camberwell and the Government has that review. I believe we need to ask questions about what facilities and resources have been given to local authorities that have tower blocs in the area and, frankly, most do. We need to deal with this; we need people to be safe living in high rise buildings,” Corbyn said.
With regards to the involvement of any current serving frontbench politicians, Corbyn asserted that although the focus at this point is on saving the locals, all ministers in their tenure must be interrogated.
Following an explosion which took place in 2009 at Lakanal House in Camberwell, which claimed six lives and injured over 20, the All-Party Parliamentary Fire Safety & Rescue Group recommended a review into the situation in 2013.
However, the group’s honorary administrative secretary, Ronnie King, said successive ministers had failed to carry out the review that the group’s report called for.
“Our group recommended that due to the speed that the fire spread in Lakanal House, that building regulations should be reviewed. It’s nearly 11 years since it has been reviewed,” he said, adding that over 4,000 building had no fire sprinklers fitted.
The coroner’s report into the Lakanal House had recommended an update on regulations, and called for developers refurbishing high-rise blocks to be encouraged to install sprinkler systems.
However, Lewis, the then immigration minister washed his hands off the matter, claiming that it was the responsibility of the fire industry, and not the Government to encourage the installation of sprinklers.
“The cost of fitting a fire sprinkler system may affect house building – something we want to encourage – so we must wait to see what impact that regulation has,” he added.
At least six persons were confirmed as dead following Wednesday’s heavy fire that engulfed a tower block in west London.
Commander Stuart Cundy, from the Metropolitan Police, said: “Our thoughts are with everyone involved in this truly shocking fire at Grenfell Tower. I can confirm six fatalities at this time, but this figure is likely to rise during what will be a complex recovery operation over a number of days. Many others are receiving medical care.”
Hundreds of firefighters battled to rescue residents from their flats after the fire broke out at Grenfell Tower on Latimer Road, near Notting Hill as the blaze rapidly engulfed the full height of the 27-storey block.
The London Ambulance Service Assistant Director of Operations Stuart Crichton confirmed in a statement that over 50 patients were admitted to five hospitals across London following the incident at the Grenfell Tower.
“Over 100 of our medics are working hard to respond to this incident, including ambulance crews, advanced paramedics, advanced trauma teams from London’s Air Ambulance and those staff managing the incident in our special operations centre. In addition, our hazardous area response teams are also on scene,” the statement added.
While the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, residents in the vicinity had reportedly raised an alarm regarding the possibility of a calamity, which was allegedly not tendered to.
They also claimed that due to renovation activities in the block, there was one entry and exit to Grenfell Tower, which created a hassle in the evacuation procedures.