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16.06.17

DCLG activates emergency disaster fund after Grenfell Tower fire

An emergency scheme has been activated to support the immediate response operation following the Grenfell Tower incident in West London.

Called the Bellwin scheme, the fund was originally set up by DCLG to help authorities deal with the immediate costs following a disaster of emergency in their area that involves danger to life or property, such as heavy flooding.

It will support authorities with helping residents and businesses that have been effected by the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The government also announced that an emergency review into the safety of tower blocks nationwide would be conducted to ensure another incident like this does not happen.

Housing minister Alok Sharma also confirmed that working with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the government would guarantee every family from Grenfell Tower would be rehoused in the local area.

“First and foremost, my thoughts are with the residents and families of those affected by the horrific incident at Grenfell Tower,” said communities secretary Sajid Javid. “Emergency services and the local community have been tremendous in their response.”

Javid confirmed that the government stood ready to help victims of the fire in any way possible.

“We’re determined to stand squarely behind the affected communities,” he stated. “Funding through the Bellwin scheme will help councils support the community to get back on their feet.”

However, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was “very angry” that the fire spread in the way it did, and that lives were lost because of a fault in the system.

“There are thousands of tower blocks around our country,” he said. “Every single person living in one today will be frightened. They need answers to provide them with security and peace of mind.”

Corbyn also warned that there were some “hard questions to be answered” by authorities as to why a disaster like this could happen in the 21st century.

“It’s the responsibility of government to tell us why the lessons of Camberwell, Southampton and Shepherds Bush have not been learned,” he concluded.

“There must be a proper ministerial statement in the Commons when the Commons is once again sitting and the government must immediately make sure the families affected have the resources they need.”

Burnham calls for review of Manchester high rises

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has also recognised the need to ensure the safety of tower blocks in his area by requesting an urgent meeting with all landlords of regional high rises to ensure that safety precautions are in place to protect residents.

“We want to provide real reassurance to people who live in high rise buildings,” he said. “I know that many people will be worried and want to know how they can ensure they are safe living there with their families.

“I intend to get local authorities, landlords, from both public and private sectors, with high rise buildings across Greater Manchester together to meet with specialist officers from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in the next week.”

Burnham also explained that the agenda for the meeting will be to understand how residents can be reassured in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower.

And 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.”

Top Image: Rick Findler PA Wire

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