Barwell facing questions over halted housing review

Firefighters work to calm the flames that engulfed the building. Pic: Natalie Oxford

The former Croydon Central MP and Housing Minister Gavin Barwell faced questions this morning after a fire broke out in a West London tower block just months after he halted proceedings to review building regulations. Currently 12 people have been confirmed dead following the fire.

Barwell, who was Housing Minister until he lust his seat last week, committed himself to reviewing the specific part of building regulations relating to fire safety after a Camberwell tower block fire in 2009 which claimed six lives.

The review was delayed however in March earlier this year with the government being warned the delays would put tower blocks across the UK at serious risk.

Inadequate fire checks and outdated building regulations were thought to be contributing factors to the 2009 blaze, with a further 4,000 tower blocks still under these same regulations.

At the time Barwell refused to comment on the cause for the delays and refused to give a date on which he would launch the review, despite warnings.

Although no longer Housing Minister, Barwell was today facing questions as to why he failed to follow through with the long-awaited building reviews, as another tower block succumbs to the poorly regulated fire safety.

Speaking to The Independent, Fire safety expert Sam Webb commented that ‘really serious questions’ need to be asked in parliament regarding fire safety.

Whilst Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a statement: “A review took place after the fire in Camberwell, the government has that review…obviously ministers who received those reports must be questioned but today every focus must be on saving and protecting life.”

The cause of the fire is currently still unknown with more than 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines being called to the Grenfell Tower to tackle the blaze at around 1am this morning.

The London Ambulance service have confirmed ambulance crews had taken 68 people from the scene to hospitals across London whilst an additional 10 people walked into hospital.

Commander Stuart Cundy of the Met police, said the operation to recover casualties was going to be ‘long and complex’ and he anticipates the number of fatalities will increase as they continue to search the building.

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