Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Newspaper column 21 June 2017 - The Grenfell Tower tragedy

As I head back up to Parliament this week for the Queen’s Speech and start of the next session of Parliament, the tragic events of the fire at Grenfell Tower last Wednesday are not far from any of our minds.

This was a terrible tragedy and my thoughts and prayers are with all those affected, those who lost their lives and their families. Praise must be given to our emergency services for acting how they did, running into the flames when others were running away and putting their own lives on the line to save those in danger.

The Prime Minister has promised a comprehensive package of support for victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. During a meeting with survivors of the fire, she announced a £5 million fund would be made available to pay for emergency supplies, food, clothes and other costs.

The package includes: a commitment that victims who lost their homes in the disaster must be rehoused at the earliest possible opportunity and that the Government should aim to do this within 3 weeks at the latest.

The Prime Minister has also ordered a judge-led Public Inquiry to ensure these events are properly investigated, lessons are learnt and everything possible is done to make sure nothing like this can ever happen again in the future. The survivors will be consulted on the terms of reference for the inquiry, which will allow them to shape the way it is run so they can obtain the answers they are seeking.

Clearly this tragic event raises concerns about the safety of high rise blocks of flats. We actually have the highest tower block in Cornwall in our constituency at Park House Flats, at Truro Road in St Austell. Shortly after the fire in Kensington I contacted Ocean Housing, the social landlord of Park House Flats, to ensure they have safety measures in place to ensure the safety of the residents if a fire was to happen there.

I have been assured by Ocean that the Park House Flats are fire rated to 1 hour and have all of the appropriate safety measures and alarms in place.

Ocean say that the building is subject to regular familiarisation inspections by Cornwall Fire and Rescue and is visited regularly by Ocean’s Head of Health and Safety with emergency plans being updated every six months.

Finally, Ocean have also confirmed that the Park House flats do not have any external cladding of the type implicated in the Grenfell tragedy.

I am also pleased to report that the local Fire and Rescue Service are visiting the flats and advising residents on how to act in the event of a fire to ensure their safety.

I am sure there will be more to come from this incident which has affected so many, but what is important now is that lessons are learned and we do not see any repeat in the future.

As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: