As part of Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle after the general election, Alok Sharma, our local MP for Reading West, has been appointed Minister of State for Housing and Planning.
If this chaotic government continues, then Mr Sharma will have specific responsibility for the long-delayed review of Building Regulations relating to fire safety which have been at the centre of concerns about the causes of the awful and entirely avoidable tragedy at Grenfell House, Kensington where so many innocent victims lost their lives in horrific circumstances.
Mr Sharma is the sixth Minister for Housing and Planning during the last 7 years of Tory-led government and this instability could well be a factor in why key issues relating to the disastrous loss of life at Grenfell Tower have not been addressed.
Experts and the All Party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue group have been pleading with government ministers to review these regulations for at least four years, but have to deal with a new minister every 12 months. It is now within the power of our local MP, Mr Sharma to remedy this situation immediately.
As Minister of State for Housing, our local MP Mr Sharma also has a role to play in delivering Theresa May’s promise that all survivors will be re-housed within 3 weeks and within the boundaries of the borough where they live, where their children go to school and where their doctors and other local services are. But, despite Mr Sharma re-iterating this promise to MPs last Thursday, this was contradicted the very next day as a news item from the Prime Minister’s office sets out.
Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have been proposing emergency actions to support the survivors and people who lost their families and friends. It is good news that nearby accommodation is to be purchased to provide up to 68 homes for survivors in newly built accommodation nearby. But, the original promise that everybody will be re-housed within the borough still needs to be honoured.
We think that Mr Sharma’s constituents would expect him, as we do, to use the considerable powers available to him as a Minister of State to ensure that urgent action is taken to protect the safety of hundreds of thousands of residents of tower blocks across the country and that all survivors, and other people displaced by this tragedy, are treated with humanity and respect.
Therefore, we have sent an open letter to Mr Alok Sharma, as the Minster of Housing and a Reading MP, asking for him to guarantee to:
- Immediately implement the Building Regulations review, promised for the past four years.
- Rapidly re-house the victims of the fire within the borough of Kesignton and Chelsea
As soon as we receive a response from our MP / Minister, we’ll post it here and let you know on the Facebook page.
“For the many, not the few”