The independent London newspaper

The council should lobby Whitehall for cash to make homes safe

23 June, 2017

Grenfell Tower

WE appreciate that Islington Council, aware of its moral and legal responsibilities of duty of care towards its tenants, is embarking on a £38million­ safety programme.

But ever since state housing emerged 100 years ago many tenants in cities have been treated as second-class citizens – pleas for repairs often ignored, families left to climb flights of stairs because of broken lifts. Islington has a relatively good system of management but faults persist.

Fire safety measures, such as fire doors, can be found in high-rise blocks in the borough but lower blocks may not have them. Every block, however small, should have fire doors, loud clanging alarm system in the corridors, smoke alarms in every flat – many, we suspect, don’t. There needs to be a re-boost of the caretaking system rundown some time ago. This would be part of an overhaul of a fully functioning maintenance system.

This would be costly – and here is where the council should consider lobbying and sending deputations to Whitehall for power to borrow money while interests are low to pay for the extra costs.

Installation of sprinklers in all blocks would run into millions.

The council needs to be more open with the public and the press. It now says cladding on eight blocks have been sent off for tests to see whether they are the same or similar to those used on the Grenfell tower – but when was this done and why is taking so long to complete the investigation?

Tenants in these blocks must be very worried.

We would like to see the councillors link up with the public in a campaign for more cash for safety equipment – an opportunity to bring about a renewal of democracy by making it a participatory democracy.

Long term, should we expect people to live crammed in tall blocks?

Shouldn’t we rid London of skyscrapers, and make it a capital like others in Europe?


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