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Grenfell Tower fire: Barwell faces questions over safety review delay

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Former housing minister Gavin Barwell is facing questions over delays to a review of building regulations aimed at improving the safety of high-rise buildings, LGC’s sister title Construction News reports.

In October last year Mr Barwell, who has been appointed as Theresa May’s new chief of staff, announced a review into Part B of the Building Regulations 2010 that cover fire safety in tall and wooden buildings.

However, the review has yet to be launched. In March, a spokesperson for the DCLG said the review would be undertaken “in due course”.

The questions have emerged as firefighters battled to bring under control the fire that ripped through Grenfell Tower in west London this morning, with six people so far confirmed as having lost their lives.

The Part B review was due to look at how fire safety measures could be improved following a major fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell, south London, in 2009, in which six people lost their lives. Earlier this year Southwark LBC was fined £270,000 and order to pay £300,000 legal costs after admitting safety failings at Lakanal House.

Concerns have risen in recent months amid the lack of progress in commencing the review.

In March the all-party parliamentary group on fire safety and rescue warned that tower blocks across the UK could be at risk due to safety failures because of the government delay into reviewing building regulations.

Ronnie King, honorary administrative secretary of the parliamentary group, said: ”We still have 4,000 older tower blocks in the UK which have the same regulations applied to them. The message to other social landlords and housing providers is unless there is a review of [part B] of the regulations you could face multi-million pound legal costs and compensation should you experience a Lakanal House tragedy.”

Tony Devenish, Conservative London Assembly member for Kensington and Chelsea, said: “I have been stunned by the scale and ferocity of the fire and of the heart-breaking stories emerging from the scene.

“Rightly questions are already being asked about the safety measures in place to prevent this kind of tragedy. I am keeping up to date with all of the latest developments and in time I will be seeking answers to these questions.”

 

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