Issues relating to Grenfell Tower and the lessons for Cambridge will be discussed at the City Council’s Full Council meeting tonight (13 July).
Speaking ahead of the meeting, the Leader of the City Council, Councillor Lewis Herbert. said: “The unspeakable tragedy at Grenfell Tower last month and the inadequate response by their council rightly raises many questions for all councils to consider both for their own housing and tenants and also for the wider community. In addition there are major challenges that the Government has yet to fully answer for the whole country including whether current fire safety and Building Control regulations are fit for purpose.
The City Council’s rapid and thorough response has included a searching assessment of fire safety, prevention and fire precautions in all of our large buildings, particularly our high-rise housing, working with the Fire Service. We are also fortunate that the vast majority of Cambridge council homes have long been built low-rise.
As a key partner with the emergency services and other councils in the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Resilience Forum, the Council already has plans to deal with a full range of emergency events but we will be reviewing whether there are lessons to be learnt from Grenfell Tower and from the wider UK review underway on high rise building safety. We will continue to be guided by advice from the Fire Service and from the Department of Communities and Local Government in the immediate and shocking aftermath of Grenfell and we have taken every measure possible to date where the council has related responsibilities.
The terrible fire and the inadequate response by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council was also a major concern for councils at last week’s annual Local Government Association Conference in Birmingham which I attended. Clearly there are also deeper questions to be answered about decades of under-funding of council housing by the government and the lives put at risk by substandard housing. Cambridge will continue to be a strong advocate for the urgent need for a UK-wide council house building programme and for a strong voice from all tenants in how they are managed. Grenfell must be a national turning point and we are determined to work with councils across Britain and the Government and our tenants to make it one.”