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Insurance companies must pay out - MP & AM

The MP and AM for the Vale of Clwyd have issued the following joint statement about the floods which have hit their constituency:

The flooding we’ve witnessed has been unprecedented and the scenes are truly shocking.

We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of an elderly lady in her home in St Asaph, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of all affected by this local tragedy.

Our sincerest thanks go to the professional and dedicated emergency services and local volunteers who are working flat-out, in a co-ordinated and organised way, to give their support to those who have been affected by the severe flooding and to get them into safety and out of harm’s way.

Our heartfelt sympathies also go out to the hundreds of people whose homes and properties have been flooded and damaged beyond recognition.

Going forward, the emergency services must have all of the resources they deem necessary. We need a concerted and co-ordinated approach to ensure that people can start to get back to normal as soon as possible and that this tragedy is not repeated.

We must work towards making sure that insurance companies pay out and that our communities are properly protected. In the future, households must continue to have access to affordable house insurance.

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Welsh sprinkler law looked at in Europe

The backbench Assembly Member responsible for a law requiring all new homes to be fitted with sprinklers is taking her message to Europe. Labour's Ann Jones will be speaking at a major Fire safety conference in Paris tomorrow.

Ms Jones' message has also been echoed by a coroner in England who, following this tragic case, has written to the UK housing minister Grant Shapps calling for sprinklers to be fitted in all new and existing multi-occupancy homes.

Cutting the human cost: AM behind sprinkler law rejects costs criticism

The Welsh Government's decision to push ahead with a law making it compulsory to fit sprinklers in all newly-built houses in Wales comes despite a report it commissioned from BRE Fire and Security which concludes that it won't be cost effective.

It follows claims from critics who say that the cost of fitting sprinklers will put off developers from building new homes in Wales. But the Labour AM who steered the law through the Assembly has rejected both criticisms. Vale of Clwyd's Ann Jones says,

... the comprehensive evidence from a number of Assembly committees and US studies proves that the introduction of sprinkler systems in all new and converted domestic properties has no impact on the viability of developments and nor do they have a significant impact on the housing market.

Their introduction reduces the human cost of fires, for individuals, families and of course fire fighters

I welcome the action of the Welsh Labour Government in preparing the regulations to ensure that this law is implemented.

Sprinklers to be fitted in all new homes in Wales from Sept 2013

Long-awaited rules to ensure all new homes are fitted with sprinklers will be introduced from September next year, it's been announced. In a written statement, Environment minister John Griffiths said predictions show that 36 deaths and 800 injuries could be prevented as a result of the move.

Critics including the boss of house-builder Redrow have said the extra cost of fitting sprinklers will put off developers from investing in Wales. But John Griffiths said the costs are more than justified by the lives likely to be saved:

We must seek to prevent avoidable death and injury from house fires and need to accept that there is a cost to introducing sprinklers into new properties. These proposals are significant and important in taking forward fire safety. Wales will be at the forefront of reducing fire risk and cutting the number of avoidable deaths and injuries caused by fires in residential premises.

There's been a long wait for news of these rules. The legislation making them possible was introduced by Labour backbencher Ann Jones in 2010. AMs voted unanimously in favour of it last February.