Shropshire Star comment: Grenfell lessons have not been actioned

The Grenfell Tower disaster has a special place in the annals of fire horrors, with the unfortunates trapped by flames in the upper storeys of a blazing tower block, having been told to stay put to await a rescue which never came.

The Grenfell Tower
The Grenfell Tower

The images of that dreadful night are seared on the national consciousness, a nightmare come real.

Lessons have been learned and it will never happen again – or that's what it would be reassuring to think, but the evidence suggests that while there have been lessons learned, they have not been acted upon in a comprehensive manner, and until they have it could happen again.

Over three years on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy residents living in similar tower blocks are essentially counting on good luck to protect them from a repetition, rather than the completion of a thorough programme to put the faults right.

Grenfell Tower principally exposed a massive problem with the cladding of such buildings, and the Government's response points to it being overwhelmed by the range and extent of remedial work that is needed.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has now announced that the Government is to provide a further £3.5 billion to help end the "cladding scandal," but if he was expecting cheers and pats on the back he will be disappointed.

Labour criticism is a given, but Conservative MP Stephen McPartland said he listened to Mr Jenrick's announcement with his head in his hands.

"It's clear he doesn't understand what's happening, they don't have a grip of the issue, it's incompetence and I think it's time the Prime Minister stepped in," he said.

Under the plan outlined to the Commons, leaseholders in high-rise buildings above 18 metres (59ft), or with six storeys or more, will face no costs for cladding work. However those in lower-rise blocks face having to pay back up to £50 a month for work to fix the unsafe cladding.

They have become trapped in their own homes, unable to sell, and facing huge costs, which include soaring insurance bills, for problems which were not of their making.

Mr Jenrick's announcement has done nothing to alleviate their misery. Their plight is not fair, it is not just, and they will rightly feel abandoned and betrayed.

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