Local authorities have been ordered by Government to carry out urgent fire safety checks on high-rise residential towers similar to the Grenfell Tower devastated by fire in London.
There are believed to be around 4,000 similar towers in the UK, with 600 of those in the North West. The enforcement of building regulations by local authorities is of particular concern, after the scale and rapid spread of the Grenfell Tower blaze was blamed on cladding design and materials used during its recent refurbishment.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Theresa May met with victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and later issued a statement to say she has launched a public inquiry, reporting back to her personally.
May added: “As Prime Minister, I will be responsible for implementing its findings. Understandably, those living in similar high-rise blocks to Grenfell Tower also want answers.
“I have ordered councils to complete urgent safety checks on all these buildings. If any further action is required, it will be taken.”
Among the first councils to issue a response to the fire was Manchester City Council. The council has contacted the landlords of all former council tower blocks in the city to ask for reassurances about their fire safety.
A spokesperson for the council said: “Following the horrific fire at the Grenfell… the City Council would like to reassure residents that reviews are already taking place to ensure the safety of residential buildings in Manchester.
“The Council’s arms-length housing management company, Northwards Housing, has already begun systematic checks of fire risk management of each of the blocks they manage to ensure they are robust and residents know what to do in the event of a fire.”
Joanne Roney, chief executive of Manchester City Council, added: “Residents should not be unduly concerned and the reviews of fire safety in Manchester’s residential blocks are a precautionary measure, and we are simply looking for reassurance that the systems in place are as robust as possible.”
Cllr Bernard Priest, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Following the horrendous events at Grenfell Tower this week we have contacted the landlords of former council blocks to request assurance that their fire measures are properly in place.
“We are working closely with Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue colleagues and we will respond to any advice they suggest as the situation develops, but if you have any concerns please contact your landlord.”
Liverpool City Council said it would be meeting this Thursday with housing associations and managers from planning, building control and environmental health departments to coordinate safety checks.
A statement from Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service read: “Following last week’s tragic fire at Grenfell Towers in London, while we cannot speculate about the cause of the fire, we can provide reassurance to the residents of the 21 high-rise blocks across Cheshire.
“Every high-rise is regularly inspected for fire safety by the service’s prevention and protection teams, accompanied by operational firefighters, and these teams have already started to visit them to provide reassurance to residents.
“The service places a high priority on operational training for all incidents including high-rise accommodation buildings and this training is given to all operational firefighters and incident commanders as well as to new recruits who also visit high rise blocks as part of their initial training.”