Public inquiry to examine council's response to Grenfell

15 Aug 17

The judge-led inquiry into the Grenfell Tower tragedy will examine Kensington and Chelsea’s role in the build-up and aftermath of the blaze, the government has announced.

It will, in particular, examine the council's handling of fire safety complaints from Grenfell Tower residents ahead of the tragedy, the terms of reference released today revealed.

The inquiry will look at the causes of the blaze, which claimed at least 80 lives on June 14, as well as appraise the responses of central government and the London Fire Brigade.

There will also be a review of the refurbishment of the 24-storey building. The council has been criticised for the use of cheaper, flammable materials, which may have exacerbated the speed at which the fire engulfed the tower. 

Building regulations and fire safety legislation relating to the design, construction and management of high-rise buildings will also be scrutinised. 

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, who will be leading the inquiry, also said it would explore the safety measures in place at Grenfell Tower on the day it erupted into flames.

Although, Moore-Bick told the prime minister in a letter that he did not believe the inquiry was the right place for a wider discussion on social housing policy. 

He stated it was important for the inquiry to move quickly to identify defects in building design and maintenance, which could affect high rises across the country.

“To give the inquiry terms of reference, which would cover all the matters requested by local residents and others would inevitably add significantly to the length of time needed to complete its work,” he added.

He concluded that matters of that sort would raise social, economic and political questions which should be best examined by a “different kind of process or body”.

Prime minister Theresa May responded: “The terms of reference set out by Sir Martin address crucial issues such as the cause of the fire and the adequacy of building and fire regulations which will allow the inquiry to get to the truth of what happened and learn the lessons to stop a similar catastrophe happening in the future.

“I am determined that the broader questions raised by this fire - including around social housing - are not left unanswered.”

Shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate said Grenfell was a stark reminder of the injustice of the UK’s housing crisis.

“Not only must nothing like this happen again, but also it must be allowed to act as a wake-up call that the wider crisis cannot be allowed to continue.

"The inquiry must cover the wide range of issues that led to the disaster.”

She urged the government to “make good” on its promise to looking into the wider question of social housing.

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