Grenfell disaster families fear 'very real possibility' of another tragedy, says Leeds MP Richard Burgon

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

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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.

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Leeds East MP Richard Burgon. Picture: Hollie Adams/Getty ImagesLeeds East MP Richard Burgon. Picture: Hollie Adams/Getty Images
Leeds East MP Richard Burgon. Picture: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

“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 already are being.”

Constituency MP Conservative Felicity Buchan (Kensington) said there was “a lot more to be done” to address the issues linked to the disaster.

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

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

While 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.

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She added: “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.”

The fifth anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy was marked with a silent march, but ministers should not take that silence as “some kind of consent for what’s happened”, independent MP and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said.

He added: “But there are many people in this country that are now either very frightened or very frustrated by the situation in which they find themselves.”

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Shadow housing minister Matthew Pennycook called for the Government to go “faster and in many cases further”.

He said: “If the Government do not accelerate markedly the pace of remediation across the board, we are likely to find ourselves marking the 10th or even the 15th anniversary of the Grenfell fire while still bemoaning the fact that some unsafe buildings require fixing.

“Yet we now know what happened could have been avoided, it could have been avoided if shortcuts were not taken when it came to safety.”

He added: “We have real concerns about whether the new regime is going to be able to function effectively. In particular, we remain unconvinced that the new building safety regulator – which the act makes responsible for all aspects of the new framework – has what it needs to perform all the complex tasks assigned to it.”

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Housing minister Eddie Hughes said: “For my part, I am sorry. We’re committed to making things right by fixing the building safety regime that so badly failed them on that night, through the Building Safety Act.

“By implementing the toughest and most stringent fire safety standards through the Fire Safety Act and putting residents themselves at the heart of a reformed social housing sector through our Social Housing Regulation Bill.

“However, we’re not naive about the scale of the challenges that remain… we still have a long way to go on several issues.”