Calls for Grenfell Inquiry panel to write to Patel over fire safety guidance

Calls For Grenfell Inquiry Panel To Write To Patel Over Fire Safety Guidance Calls For Grenfell Inquiry Panel To Write To Patel Over Fire Safety Guidance
Guidance published in 2011 originally stated it was “unrealistic” to have evacuation plans for disabled people in event of a fire. Photo: PA Images
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By Isobel Frodsham, PA

The panel of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has been urged to write to the UK home secretary to criticise past guidance over fires in blocks of flats which was observed during the 2017 fatal blaze which killed 72 people.

Danny Friedman QC, who represents several residents and families of those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire, told the inquiry a section of the UK Local Government Association’s (LGA) fire safety guidance – which was issued six years before the west London blaze – was “unlawful and unacceptable”.

The LGA guidance, published in 2011 originally, stated it was “unrealistic” to have evacuation plans for disabled people in event of a fire.

Mr Friedman said the panel, consisting of chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick, Thouria Istephan and Ali Akbor, should “express their views now” over the guidance to Priti Patel before the inquiry concludes its hearings.


The LGA’s guidance said: “In ‘general needs’ blocks of flats, it can equally be expected that a resident’s physical and mental ability will vary.

Danny Friedman QC said he wants the Grenfell Tower Inquiry panel to write to Uk home secretary Priti Patel (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“It is usually unrealistic to expect landlords and other responsible persons to plan for this or to have in place special arrangements, such as ‘personal emergency evacuation plans’.

“Such plans rely on the presence of staff or others available to assist the person to escape in a fire.”

The advice has since been deemed to be “no longer comprehensive” by the Home Office and redacted from the LGA’s fire safety guidance document.

A new version is being revised by the UK Home Office and is due to be published in early 2022.

During the closing statements of the inquiry’s third module on Monday, Mr Friedman criticised the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) for “failing to conduct any assessments across Grenfell Tower” in the event of a fire for disabled and vulnerable residents, describing it as a “systemic breach of [their] right to life”.

He added: “The ongoing fault – and indeed scandal – lies with the government, which for over a decade now, and over four years after the Grenfell fire, has failed, and still fails, to declare that part of the LGA guide unlawful and unacceptable.


“That is why we say to the panel that if you agree, you should write to the secretary of state and express your views now, rather than wait to publish in a final report.”

Two women walk towards the Grenfell Memorial Wall in the grounds of Kensington Aldridge Academy (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The inquiry is currently in phase two of hearings, which are expected to conclude in May 2022.

A report on the panel’s findings of evidence heard during the second phase is then expected to be published at a later date.

Grenfell United, the bereaved families and survivors group, said: “Our mistreatment by RBKC and the KCTMO is not a one-off, thousands of social housing tenants across the country experience this same contempt and neglect, living in dreadful conditions with their complaints ignored.

“The Social Housing White paper is part of the essential change needed to reform this crisis. Without it, the Regulator for Social Housing continues to let negligent landlords slip through the net.

“We must not forget that Grenfell is the outcome of the devastating impact bad landlords can and do have on people’s lives.”

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