The disaster at Grenfell Tower has shocked the country. It is appalling in 21st century Britain that fire should be able to take hold and engulf a building in the way that we saw last week, with its heart-breaking consequences. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, but we must also act quickly to ensure that it can never happen again. So I’ll be joining colleagues in Parliament in pressing for an urgent review of fire safety regulations – based on the results of a full public inquiry into the fire that must take place without delay.
I arranged a meeting with Sheffield City Council yesterday to discuss the local implications. Most of the city’s high rise housing is in my constituency. I was pleased at the quick and positive response from the Council in contacting their tenants to reassure them. Although we can’t pre-judge the outcome of the inquiry, much of the attention on the Grenfell Tower fire has been on the cladding – so it is reassuring that the materials and systems used to clad Sheffield blocks are completely different – being made of metal or brick and with strong fire breaks.
Sheffield is a national leader on fire safety and we discussed what other measures the Government should take, and fund, to improve standards – particularly looking at retro-fitting sprinkler systems, electrical testing, waste management, and fires safety inspections. Much of the high rise in central Sheffield is privately owned and managed. Having been built more recently, it has been subject to the latest building regulations, but the South Yorkshire Fire Service are carrying out further inspections and I will be meeting with them to discuss their views and the resources they need to keep people safe.