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Karen Buck MP demands PM properly fund councils for fire safety

Theresa May claims 'rigorous fire regulation is already in place'

23 June, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

MP says regulation should not be seen as a burden by Government

FORMER housing minister Karen Buck warned Theresa May that regulation is a “necessary element of safe society and not a burden”, during a debate in the House of Commons.

Ms Buck told the Prime Minister on Wednesday that Westminster Council had lost 45 per cent of its budget for “environmental health responsibilities in recent years”.

She demanded the Ms May properly fund the council so that it could conduct an “urgent review of tower block safety” and to introduce sprinklers on estates if required.

She said: “Will the prime minister today guarantee that local authorities will be fully funded for an urgent review of tower block safety and all remedial action that is necessary, including the installation of sprinklers when appropriate, so that they can proceed in a matter of days with that comfort?

“Does she agree that regulation is a necessary element of a safe society, not a burden, and will she legislate swiftly when necessary to ensure all high-rise residents are safe?”

In 2015, Ms Buck, a former housing minister, put forward a private member’s bill to make all rented properties safer – including council homes.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill was designed to draw attention to safety failings in tenant housing. The idea was to put the obligation on landlords – including local authorities – to make homes fit for purpose. It would also have given tenants power to take landlords to court.

Responding to Ms Buck, Ms May said: “The Honourable Lady speaks about regulation. Of course, rigorous fire regulation is in place. If requirements to change that come out of the investigation that is taking place, we will, of course, act and do so swiftly. We must learn some of the lessons of this and previous disasters when bereaved families have not had the support they need, so we will also introduce an independent public advocate for public disasters.”

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