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Labour Party agrees Annual Conference motion to “fight cladding scandal”

04 October 2021

THE LABOUR Party has backed action in relation to the building safety crisis that has arisen since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, calling for “sustained investment” in public services that could help resolve the crisis and prevent it from continuing in new buildings.

Labour has made its move through the passing of a motion at the political party’s Annual Conference. The motion calls for “more sustained investment in local authority building control, in Fire and Rescue Service fire safety teams, fire inspectors and in other public agencies required to ensure building safety”, at the same time opposing “privatisation, deregulation and contracting out” of these services (which will help to detect building safety issues in existing buildings and also assist in preventing them arising in future buildings).

During the Annual Conference debate on the motion, Rosa Crowley-Bennett (a serving firefighter and Fire Brigades Union member) stated: “One story that stays with me is from my old station area in Moss Side, Manchester. My crew and I were carrying out a high-rise building visit after the Grenfell Tower fire. We were knocking on doors and providing safety advice to residents. One resident on the fifth floor told me that she had become so terrified of the fire risk and apparent lack of progress to address this that she had bought a rope ladder which she planned to use to escape from a window in the event of a fire.”

The Labour Party motion states that there “remains a deep and unresolved crisis in building safety” and notes that hundreds of thousands of residents remain “trapped” in unsafe buildings, with “tenants and leaseholders expected to pay the price” for the crisis.

The motion also recognises that: “Four years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, there is still no justice for the bereaved, survivors and residents”. The Labour Party “stands in solidarity with the firefighters who attended” the fire and backs cladding campaigners.

Unacceptable situation

The motion was brought to the Labour Party’s Annual Conference by the Fire Brigades Union. Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Trade Union, said: “People up and down the country are stuck in homes, schools and offices which are death traps. To say that’s an unacceptable situation is a huge understatement. We’re glad that the Labour Party has come together and backed action that will help resolve this situation.”

Wrack added: “More than four years after the fire, the courage and strength of the bereaved, the survivors and residents of Grenfell as they fight for justice and safer buildings is clear to see for all of us. We at the Fire Brigades Union stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their fight.”

In her speech at the Labout Party Conference, Rosa Crowley-Bennett explained: “On 14 June 2017, the fire at Grenfell Tower claimed the lives of 72 people. It devastated a close-knit working class community in the heart of London. My colleagues in London worked tirelessly in impossible conditions in the face of an unprecedented fire. This tragedy also marked the beginning of a national scandal which still continues to unfold in front of our eyes.”

Crowley-Bennett concluded: “In all of the discussion about regulation and legislation, we must never forget that this debate is about real people with real fears who are suffering grave injustices in what should be one of the most basic of Human Rights: the right to a decent and safe home.”