I wanted to update you on what I have been doing to support residents living in high rise flats. Since the Grenfell disaster I have had many residents get in contact – not surprising given that we have 73 towers - the highest number in any constituency in the city.
I have written to all residents living in tower blocks and asked them to tell me their concerns. 100s of people have written back and each and every piece of information is being looked at by my office and followed up with the relevant authority.
I have also written to the Leader of Birmingham City Council and the Housing Associations and asked them some very specific information about their blocks. Whilst none of our high rise in the city have Grenfell style cladding, it is clear from what we already know about the disaster that the spread of the fire was caused by more than just the combustible cladding. I want to have clear reassurances from them that:
1) They know what materials were used in the construction and refurbishment of each tower block AND that these materials have been tested to check they are non combustible and fire retardant.
2) That the fire service has checked each tower block and has a continuing role in doing so
3) That measures to stop fire spreading are improved (e.g sprinklers installed, smoke alarms in every flat, fire doors improved.
I will be campaigning in Parliament for:
- A ban on all combustible materials on the cladding, external building surface and insulation
- For a bi-annual review of the Building Regulations
- For sprinkler systems to be compulsory on all tall buildings
- Compulsory testing of all materials (not just desktop testing)
- Laws to make it compulsory for tenants and leaseholders to allow access once a year for fire and gas safety tests and a swift punitive mechanism for both tenant/leaseholder and landlord if the check is not completed within 30 days of the one year mark