Fire safety - a summary of CIH Cymru's evidence
Yesterday the National Assembly’s Equalities, Local Government and Communities Committee held its one-day inquiry on fire safety in high rise blocks in Wales. The inquiry was called following the tragic loss of life at Grenfell Tower.
As feelings of profound sadness, concern and anger continue to radiate across the housing sector this one day inquiry provided an opportunity to have a broader and more holistic discussion around fire safety within high rises in Wales.
Matt Dicks, Director of CIH Cymru appearing alongside Gareth John, Chair of the Chartered Institute of Builders in Wales, highlighted the need for clarity from the Welsh and UK Governments on testing and next steps.
In providing evidence CIH Cymru highlighted the challenges posed by leaseholder arrangements, particularly with regard to monitoring the changes to fire safety provisions that could compromise the fire safety of the respective flat, or the block as a whole. In addition, we highlighted the challenge in monitoring and inspecting adaptations that had taken place.
The committee was also understandably interested in the how reassurance is being provided to tenants in the wake of Grenfell. This has seen members pro-actively issue statements on the nature of cladding on their own homes, encouraging tenants with any concerns to contact them directly, and knocking doors to speak with tenants in high rises to provide individual reassurance and a visible offer of support.
The committee also took evidence from fire service representatives, tenant bodies, housing associations and local authority representatives. As the committee considers its recommendations, it seems fair to say that some of the challenges, in terms of ensuring that fire safety within high rises is at its optimal level, have existed for some time. The challenge will be in simplifying (or unifying) the complex legislation and guidance in place across the UK, communicating what that means to tenants and the wider community, and adopting a cross-tenure approach where at the heart of it, fire safety is everybody’s business.
Watch the evidence session
- Watch the evidence sessions on Senedd TV (CIH Cymru appears in the second session)