POLITICS

Grenfell Inferno Prompts Review Of Whether UK Regulations 'Fit For Purpose'

Call to overhaul 'flawed' system.

30/08/2017 19:33 BST

A “long overdue” fire and building safety rules review - ordered in the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze - will explore whether there were “potential systemic failures” in the. 

The independent review, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, will compare British regulations with examples from around the world to ensure the system is fit for purpose, particularly focusing on tower blocks.

The independent assessment, led by engineers, will probe the cladding used for high-rises and also whether fire safety law is being followed or enforced. 

It comes after the North Kensington blaze on June 14 claimed the lives of at least 80 people. 

The flammable cladding which encased Grenfell Tower allowed the fire to spread rapidly and residents were known to have raised various fire safety issues, including power surges, with local authorities. 

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Communities Secretary Sajid Javid

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We must learn the lessons of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and ensure that a fire like this cannot happen again. 

“Following the fire, I commissioned a series of large-scale tests, which have raised the question of whether there have been potential systemic failures within the building regulatory and fire safety system. 

“This independent Review led by Dame Judith Hackitt will address any potential failures and recommend how we ensure the whole building regulations and fire safety system is robust.  I am determined that we do everything possible to make people safe and to ensure that they feel safe.”

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Home Secretary Amber Rudd

Hackitt will report directly to Javid and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, with her interim assessment due in autumn and final report in spring 2018.

The Review will co-operate fully with the separate public Inquiry, led by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick and Hackitt will make final recommendations in the light of the inquiry’s eventual findings.

Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Communities and Local Government Spokesperson, said the review must recommend tougher sanctions for authorities that flout fire safety rules. 

“This review of building regulations is long overdue,” she said.  “The current fire safety rules have been shown to be utterly outdated and inadequate, leading to tragic consequences.

“The fact highly flammable material was approved for use on high-rise blocks across the country shows just how flawed the current system is.

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Lib Dem Wera Hobhouse

“These loopholes must be fixed as soon as possible to prevent further tragedies like Grenfell from taking place.
“There must also be clear accountability and tough sanctions for those who break the rules.”

In the wake of the disaster, tests were ordered on all tower block cladding in the UK. A total of 228 high-rise buildings fitted with cladding did not meet fire safety standards. 

Review chair, Dame Judith Hackitt said:  “I look forward to working with experts from across different sectors to take an urgent, fresh and comprehensive examination of the regulatory system and related compliance and enforcement issues. 

“It’s right that we consider the whole system together and ensure that everything possible is done to improve the safety of buildings.  I will also be speaking to residents of multi occupancy residential buildings who must have a voice about these important issues that affect their safety.”