Sadiq Khan: Government 'risking lives' by delaying Grenfell fire safety reforms

28 October 2020, 08:36 | Updated: 28 October 2020, 09:34

A total of 72 people died in the Grenfell Tower disaster
A total of 72 people died in the Grenfell Tower disaster. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

The Government is “putting lives at risk” by not implementing changes recommended by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry fast enough, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has warned.

Sadiq Khan accused building owners and the Government of “failing” the Grenfell community over the lack of progress, adding he shared concerns of survivors and bereaved families that a similar tragedy could happen again.

A total of 72 people were killed when Grenfell Tower in West London went up in flames in June 2017.

The second phase of the public inquiry into the disaster is ongoing and not expected to conclude until at least December 2021. 

In the first phase of the inquiry, almost a year ago, chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick identified 46 changes that should be made to ensure the safety of residents in high-rise buildings.

Read more: Two thirds of buildings with Grenfell-style cladding 'have not had it replaced'

Sadiq Khan said he was fearful of a repeat of Grenfell
Sadiq Khan said he was fearful of a repeat of Grenfell. Picture: PA

Mr Khan said the Government had not provided a timed delivery plan for the changes it was responsible for implementing.

He said: “I am concerned that without faster action, the Government and building owners are failing the Grenfell community and putting lives at risk.

“I know the Grenfell community are fearful that a similar tragedy could happen again and I share their concerns.”

Mr Khan, who has called for a ban on combustible cladding to be extended to all buildings, said the Government “must not wait” to implement the reforms that are “needed to fix a broken system”.

The 46 recommendations made in the first phase of the inquiry covered how buildings are designed, constructed, approved and managed and how fire and rescue services respond.

Home Office minister James Brokenshire said in September that fire safety reforms would be introduced in the “fastest possible time”.

Of the 29 recommendations made to London Fire Brigade, four have so far been completed, including the introduction of smoke hoods to aid in rescues.

The Brigade was condemned for “significant systemic failings” in the first phase of the inquiry, including a “stay put” order to residents. 

The mayor’s office said work had “significantly progressed” on all the brigade’s remaining recommendations, with the majority due to be completed by March next year.

London fire commissioner Andy Roe said: “This has been a challenging year for everyone and the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in some of our improvement activities taking longer to implement than planned.”

He added: “I share the mayor’s concerns that faster action is needed by the Government, housing and building industries and that urgent changes do need to be made to building safety regulations.”