The public inquiry into the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower fire starts today. Since the fire, I’ve taken a lot of action locally and in Parliament on the issues that have come up since. This is an update on what I’ve done and am continuing to do.
Immediately following the Grenfell fire, I got in contact with the key organisations in Norwich to seek assurances about the fire safety of any cladding in the city. The City Council informed me they were carrying out full risk assessments of each block, in addition to the daily safety checks conducted by wardens. I have been in regular correspondence with these organisations since about the issue.
When it was announced that the cladding on Geoffrey Watling Way had failed its fire safety test I came back from Parliament to meet with Broadland Housing, Taylor Wimpey and the Norfolk Fire Service on site.
The Fire Service informed me they were making changes to increase fire safety such as moving cars from underneath the tower blocks, 24/7 wardens and new instructions to evacuate the buildings immediately in the event of a fire.
I followed up this action with a series of written parliamentary questions to Alok Sharma, the Housing Minister, regarding the testing being carried out by the Government. I made the response I received public and sent it to all the key local organisations.
I also spoke in Parliament on how the cuts being made to local councils by this Tory Government could result in some councils making compromises on safety. I talked about how Norwich City Council are being forced to make cuts of £7.4 million a year to repairs and improvements, among other investments. I said we were fortunate to have a Labour-run council that puts fire safety paramount, but that they were inevitably feeling the strain.
The latest update I have from the City Council is they will be inspecting all tower block leaseholders' doors to ensure they comply with the fire safety standards upheld by the Council for tenants. It is vital all front doors to flats are fire doors so that any fire can be contained.
I will always work hard to ensure my constituents are safe in their homes. I will always defend my constituents from reckless Tory cuts. I will always be Norwich's voice in Westminster, not Westminster's voice in Norwich.