The Tories have callously voted to defeat an attempt put into law the fire safety recommendations made by Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower inquiry.
The amendment was proposed by the Labour Party as an addition to the Fire Safety Bill. It was rejected by 318 votes to 188 on Monday evening.
It included guidelines for carrying out evacuations of high-rise buildings, and required the owners of multi-residential buildings to check fire doors every three months.
Owners would also have to provide paper and electronic versions of building plans to local fire services and carry out regular inspections of the lifts.
Among those who voted against the amendment was Felicity Buchan–the Tory MP for Kensington where Grenfell Tower is located. Grenfell activist Moyra Samuels told Socialist Worker, “the community is furious over Buchan’s decision.”
She added that activists plan to organise demonstrations in retaliation. But organisers of the Grenfell Silent Walks have already been issued warnings from the police.
The Grenfell Inquiry’s Phase 1 report found the tower’s cladding did not comply with building regulations and was the “principal” reason for the rapid spread of the fire in June 2017.
After the recommendations from Phase 1 of the enquiry were published in October 2019. Previously Tory housing secretary James Brokenshire promised to implement them “in full” and “without delay”.
Yet, the Tories have been disgracefully slow at making progress to removing flammable cladding to other high-rise buildings.
At least 243 high-rise residential buildings still have Aluminium Composite Materials cladding–the same combustible cladding that was put on Grenfell to save money.
A government spokesperson said, “We are doing everything in our power to implement the Phase 1 recommendations of the Grenfell Inquiry in the most practical, proportionate and effective way to ensure such a tragedy can never happen again.”
This is hard to believe given that the recommendations from the inquiry have been spurned by 317 Tory MPs.
Phase 2 of the official inquiry began on Monday, which will attempt to explain why the fire happened.
But due to the way coronavirus are implemented, relatives of the dead and the survivors cannot directly access the hearings.
Moyra said, “This is a key issue. Plans have not been made for them.
“The bereaved and survivors are angry that there are regulations to allow schools and pubs to reopen, but they are not allowed into the inquiry.
“They should have the right to look these people in the eye while they’re giving their evidence.”
During evidence this week it was revealed that a commercial manager from construction firm Rydon, who refurbished Grenfell Tower, wrote in 2014 that his company would be “quids in” by using cheaper cladding.
Zak Maynard told colleagues that swapping the proposed cladding for cheaper, flammable cladding would mean they could “pocket” savings to make up for a £212,000 shortfall after a costing error.
“It’s just more profit.” Maynard told the inquiry–but the culture of profit before safety cost 72 lives.
Moyra said, “It is not inquires that bring us justice. It is our hot breath on their necks that will deliver justice.”
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