The new MP for Peterborough has called on the city council to undergo a review of social housing and new builds to make sure both are safe for inhabitants.
In her first letter to Peterborough City Council leader Cllr John Holdich, Labour’s Fiona Onasanya said the authority “needs to do its part, not just to ensure the existing stock of housing stock is up to standard, but also that local rules and regulations ensure new and recent builds have adequate safety and hygiene measures.”
Her letter is a response to the Grenfell Tower fire where 79 people have died or are missing and presumed dead.
Acknowledging that “the circumstances which led to this calamity are at the forefront of our minds,” Ms Onasanya said she is “strongly urging” the council to:
. Audit existing social housing to ensure it is of a decent standard, and undergo repairs if necessary
. Review local building regulations to ensure new and recently built homes have sufficient health and safety provisions, and undergo remedial action if necessary
. Publish the results of the review and the audit online.
The social housing audit should have a “particular emphasis on avoiding fire hazards,” the MP added. This includes, but is not limited to, “ensuring that sprinkler systems are installed where appropriate and sufficient fire alarms are in place.”
Last week, Peterborough’s largest housing association Cross Keys Homes reassured tenants about fire safety standards at its properties following the inferno at Grenfell Tower.
The council transferred its entire housing stock of 10,000 properties to Cross Keys more than a decade ago.
Ms Onasanya, who defeated Conservative incumbent Stewart Jackson in this month’s General Election, said: “The events at Grenfell Tower have been tragic in every way. In addition to the suffering endured by the people living there, this horrifying cataclysm has wounded the conscience of the nation.
“It’s up to us as elected officials, both in Peterborough and Westminster, to take a lead on preventing such catastrophes.
“Although reassurance from providers like Cross Keys is encouraging, I’ve asked Councillor Holdich and his team to not only assess the safety of our social housing, but look at the building regulations regarding new build and recently built homes.
“We need to do our utmost to ensure that government at all levels has fulfilled its first duty, namely to protect the people.
“I look forward to working with Councillor Holdich on this issue, and taking the necessary actions so that the people of Peterborough can feel thoroughly secure in their homes.”
Cllr Holdich, who received the letter this morning (Tuesday, June 20), has replied that a safety check of social housing in Peterborough was undertaken within hours of the Grenfell Tower fire being reported in the news.
He wrote to the MP: “I also share your keenness to be reassured Peterborough’s social housing stock is fit for purpose in all aspects of regulatory and building standards’ safety and was pleased my cabinet member for housing Cllr Peter Hiller had instigated, through our service director for communities, a thorough health check of RSL [Registered Social Landlord] properties within our council’s area of responsibility within a matter of hours after the news of the fire had been broadcast.
“I’m sure you will appreciate we are to a great degree reassured by the initial feedback from the RSLs that their recent remedial works and planned housing improvements are all compliant with prevailing health and safety and building regulations, and that the vast majority of our stock is either housing or low-rise accommodation.”