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RLA speaks at Grenfell Inquiry meeting

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

The RLA has called for a review of fire safety and building regulations at a consultation meeting ahead of the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The meeting, for organisations with an interest in the Grenfell Inquiry, was chaired by the inquiry chairman, Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

He confirmed the focus will be on how the fire started, why it spread so quickly, and why so many people died. It will also look at the building structure and modifications, upkeep and maintenance, measures taken to protect residents, firefighting equipment and how the blaze was tackled.

RLA policy manager John Stewart spoke at the meeting to call for greater clarity when it comes to requirements and responsibilities regarding fire safety and standards.

He said that the complexity of existing rules and regulations are further complicated by the confusion over who has responsibility for what in tower blocks, with a web of relationships between owners/freeholders, building managers, owner occupiers, social tenants, PRS tenants and lawful and unlawful subletters.

He also reiterated the point that regulations must be enforced to be effective.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy the RLA has called for a full review of fire safety regulations across all residential properties, regardless of tenure.

Since then the association has met with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid and has written to Ministers flagging up the issues.

The new Housing Minister Alok Sharma has agreed to meet with RLA representatives and Mike Kane MP has referenced the RLA’s concerns in Parliament.

The RLA helped DCLG contact landlords, and owners and managers of PRS blocks to promote the call for urgent safety checks to be carried out and attended a summit held by the Mayor of greater Manchester Andy Burnham on fire safety in high rise buildings.

Representatives have also spoken in the media about issues with existing rules and regulations, with RLA Vice Chairman Douglas Haig working with other industry experts on a radio package for BBC 5live explaining where responsibility lies regarding fire safety in tower blocks.

In total 52 professional bodies and institutions have pulled together 10 expert panels who will make reports to the Grenfell Inquiry, with representatives of safety groups, the building and construction industry and the local community all at the meeting, along with academics, lawyers all at the consultation meeting.

There was broad agreement that fire regulations and building regulations need to be looked at as well as the competence of those carrying out inspections/risk assessments.

There also needs to be a better understanding of responsibilities and the differences between planning and building control and greater clarity when it comes to regulations.

Other issues raised included the enforcement capacity of the public sector and the ability of fire and rescue services across the country to respond to a similar disaster.

The RLA is now preparing a written submission to the inquiry ahead of an August 4 deadline.

The RLA has prepared a guide for landlords on their responsibilities when it comes to tenants’ safety. Click here to find out more.


About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.

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