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Government failing to act on Grenfell recommendations, mayor Sadiq Khan says

Mr Khan says the London Fire Brigade has completed 26 out of the 29 recommendations it faced from first phase of the public inquiry.

21 March 2022

The Government has “failed to complete a single recommendation” from the first phase of the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire which claimed 72 lives, London mayor Sadiq Khan has said.

Sadiq Khan questioned whether the Government and the housing sector are taking steps to move forward with the recommendations from the first phase  of the inquiry.

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said Mr Khan’s claim was “unfounded”.

The inquiry’s first phase  looked at how the June 2017 fire at the 24-storey west London tower block began, spread and became a disaster.

These were seen as some of the key findings might influence the deeper investigation of the inquiry’s second phase – into how it could happen in the first place.

Mr Khan said he was “extremely concerned” by the lack of progress made by the Government since the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report’s recommendations were published in October 2019 as he announced that the London Fire Brigade (LFB) has completed 26 out of the 29 recommendations which had been directed them and other fire and rescue services.

Tower block fire in London
People sign a remembrance wall near Grenfell Tower (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The  Inquiry’s Phase 1 report included 12 recommendations aimed primarily at the Government – to date none of these have been completed, and the Government has not  provided a date for when they will be, according to the mayor’s office.

It adds these recommendations include vital changes to legislation and national guidelines on building regulations, including those that relate to fire safety.

A DLUHC spokesman said: “The Government is making progress towards implementing the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s Phase 1 recommendations.

“We’re introducing the biggest improvements in building safety for a generation – with tougher regulations that will give more rights and protections for residents and make homes safer.

“Our new building safety regulator will enforce a more stringent regulatory regime for high-rise residential buildings, and oversee the safety and performance of all buildings.”

Introducing smoke hoods to aid in the rescue of people in smoke-filled environments and using 32m and 64m ladders to help tackle fires in high-rise buildings are among the changes the brigade has made since the Grenfell Tower fire.

It has also rolled out an extensive training programme to put in place changes for how the brigade responds to high-rise fires, including when the ‘stay put’ guidance is no longer viable and a mass evacuation carried out, according to the mayor.

The LFB has made “significant changes” and appears committed to putting the recommendations in place “as swiftly as possible”.

Tower block fire in London
Members of the police and London Fire Brigade observe a minute’s silence near to Grenfell Tower (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Mr Khan said: “However, I am extremely concerned the Government has failed to complete a single recommendation from the first phase of the inquiry.

“It is vital that the Government and the housing and building industries act now and do not wait for the inquiry’s next report to take action on such an important issue.

“Without faster action, the Government is failing the Grenfell community, putting lives at risk and leaving residents feeling unsafe in their homes. The Government, housing and building industries must not wait to implement the wholesale reforms that are needed to fix a broken system.”

When the first phase of the report was published, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs: “I will not allow the lessons of this tragedy to fall through the cracks.”

He said that where inquiry chairman and retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick recommends responsibility for fire safety be taken on by central Government, “we will legislate accordingly”.

He also said that “more widely, we plan to accept, in principle, all of the recommendations that Sir Martin makes of central Government”.

Tower block fire in London
Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick looks at floral tributes to the victims of the tower block fire  (Philip Toscano/PA).

London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said: “While there is some work still to do, I am pleased to say that we now have important new policies, practices, training, and equipment in place to help protect Londoners and firefighters.

“We owe it to the bereaved families, the survivors and the residents to learn lessons, transform our service, and improve.

“We also continue to have detailed discussions with community representatives about how we can improve our service and make it accessible to all.”

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