Buildings with safety risks 'still being approved' five years after Grenfell, MP warns

People listen to a multi-faith and wreath laying ceremony at the base of Grenfell Tower
People listen to a multi-faith and wreath laying ceremony at the base of Grenfell Tower

The families of those impacted by the Grenfell Tower fire believe there is a “very real possibility” such a tragedy could happen again, an MP has said.

Labour MP Richard Burgon opened a debate in the Commons to mark the fifth anniversary of the disaster, where he said: “We need more than the apologies of politicians, we need more than an inquiry, we need to see justice properly done and we need to see real change.”

'Five years on another Grenfell is a very real possibility'

The MP for Leeds East said: “We’ve heard a lot in recent days about ensuring this atrocity never happens again, but the Grenfell families believe that five years on another Grenfell is a very real possibility.

“Already at the inquiry there’s been a mountain of evidence of how profits were prioritised over safety, how privatisation and deregulation watered down building standards, how cuts and austerity contributed.

“All that must be tackled if the words ‘never again are not just platitudes from politicians’, and the lessons from the inquiry must be implemented in full, however uncomfortable that is for the Government.

“But there are already deep concerns that lessons will be ignored and they they already are being.”

Grenfell Tower in west London set alight in June 2017

The MP whose constituency includes Grenfell Tower said there is “a lot more to be done” to address the issues linked to the disaster.

Conservative MP Felicity Buchan (Kensington) said: “We are never going to be able to right the wrongs of the past. But we can ensure that there is a lasting legacy from Grenfell. And I am very clear that that legacy must be that everyone has a right to be safe in their homes, and that all residents and all communities, their voices need to be heard.”

She reiterated she has been “very frustrated over the course of the last five years at the speed at which many of the changes were being implemented”.

Labour MP Karen Buck (Westminster North) said there had been an “epic failure” in the state’s response in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

She said: “The way in which the institutions of the state failed the survivors, the relatives and the wider community set a tone for the whole of the following five years. It fed into, understandably, a deep and profound sense that they could not rely upon the institutions of the state to offer them support and to offer them justice.”

'High-rise buildings mushrooming'

Buildings with safety risks were also still being approved across London, ministers were warned.

Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter said high-rise buildings were “mushrooming” across his constituency and in neighbouring areas.

The Labour MP told the Commons: “In my constituency there are similar applications for 46-storey blocks and I am pleased to say that some of those developers are now going away, lowering some of the heights perhaps by 10 storeys and adding in additional staircases.

“But this is catching things in the nick of time and some of them are still being built now.

“Why is that important? It is important because of the failure of the stay-put policy.”

On Tuesday the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were among those who observed a 72-second silence at the base of the tower in north Kensington, in memory of the 72 men, women and children who died in the fatal fire.

The royal couple also laid a wreath in tribute to those who died and listened to speeches which included calls for the arrests of those responsible for the tragedy.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive for a multi-faith and wreath laying ceremony at the base of Grenfell Tower

Many mourners were wearing green scarves and clothing to match the green hearts which adorn the wall which have become a symbol of the tragedy.

The duke and duchess chatted with attendees before taking their seats in the front row for the multi-faith service.

Their appearance followed a private meeting earlier on Tuesday between the royal couple and those directly affected by the disaster.

Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...