Theresa May orders public inquiry into tragic tower block blaze

15 Jun 17

Prime minister Theresa May has ordered a full public inquiry into a tower block fire in which at least 17 people have lost their lives.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Lib Dems had called on the government to order a public inquiry in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy yesterday.

May told Sky News: "People want answers. That's why I'm ordering a full public inquiry into this disaster.

"We need to know what happened, we need to have an explanation of this."

Chancellor Philip Hammond has pulled out of his annual Mansion House policy speech this evening in light of the fatal fire. 

 

 

Labour and Lib Dems have also called on the government to urgently conduct a long-awaited review of fire and safety regulations.

The two opposition parties want the government to ensure compliance to the rules is strengthened and that landlords are required to put sprinklers in buildings.

Residents have said sprinklers and fire alarms were not in operation at the Kensington and Chelsea Council tower block.

The government committed to a review of fire safety regulations after a fire in a Southwark Council tower block, where six people died in 2009.

John Healey, shadow housing minister, in an interview with Good Morning Britain today said: “They should commission an independent immediate review so that the clear lessons must now be taken seriously.”

Sal Brinton, Lib Dem party president and member of the all-party parliamentary fire safety and rescue group, said: “Ministers have been asked repeatedly to upgrade fire safety regulations but have done nothing, including on sprinklers and strengthening compliance rules.”

"The government must conduct an urgent review into fire safety and building regulations, with recommendations implemented as soon as possible,” she added.

Ronnie King, the honorary administrative secretary of the all-party parliamentary group fire safety & rescue group, told LBC radio that recommendations from a report produced after the 2009 Southwark blaze had not been properly reviewed.

King said since the report was presented to the government in 2013 successive housing ministers, including Gavin Barwell, then housing minister and now Theresa May’s new chief of staff, had not reviewed fire regulations in light of the report’s recommendations.

"Mr Barwell said he was still looking at it and was preparing to meet with the all-party group,” he said. “That's when the election was called and the meeting never happened."

May told Sky News the all-party group will meet this afternoon.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “If you deny local authorities the funding they need then there is a price that is paid by the lack of safety facilities all over the country.”

The 1974’s tower block had recently undergone a £10m refurbishment, which including new cladding to the outside of the building.  

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