Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, speaking at the Council of Europe on Monday 26 June urged the council to bring the issue of Grenfell Tower, where 79 people are currently known to have died following a fire on a high-rise flat, to the forefront of the agenda.
Mr Evans said: “we should as an institution not stand idly by and allow these possible death traps to become death traps.” Nigel was speaking after further disturbing details of Grenfell emerged. These include the claim by residents that there was no central fire alarm or sprinklers and the cladding, added during a £10 million refurbishment caught alight ‘like a matchstick’. On top of this, 4,000 residents in North London were evacuated from their homes over the weekend due to safety concerns
Nigel went on to ask the members of the council to “imagine how many tower blocks there are in Council of Europe countries that might be in a similar situation? Where some people are now living in fear of their lives simply because they do not know if they are safe or not.” This follows recent updates that of the sixty further blocks tested for fire safety, all have failed. With 540 in England still to be tested and the fact that 30,000 buildings in the UK are feared to have been fitted with the same cladding, Mr Evans called for urgent action on the matter Europe-wide.
After a host of failings, including failure to comply to building regulations and using non-fire resistant cladding – when fire resistant cladding would cost only £5000 more, Nigel reiterated that a full inquiry would be held and encouraged all council members to work together to understand and properly implement the best practice for the safe building of high rise flats.
Nigel concluded his address to the Council of Europe by saying that “This disaster should be now seen as an opportunity for us to have our say and make sure that our citizens have exactly what we say in Article 3, which is the right to life.”
Sajid Javid, MP and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government spoke to Parliament on late Monday afternoon. He announced that 75 high-rise tower blocks in 26 local authority areas had now failed cladding and fire safety tests and that an independent expert advisory commission was to be set up following the Grenfell disaster.