Camden needs more money from government to ensure fire safety, says Tulip Siddiq

Chalcots Estate and Tulip Siddiq

Chalcots Estate and Tulip Siddiq - Credit: Archant

Tulip Siddiq yesterday spoke in a parliamentary debate to call for more money for Camden to ensure fire safety in the borough’s tower blocks.

Speaking in a debate on the Grenfell Tower Fire Inquiry in the House of Commons, Ms Siddiq, the MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, noted that the borough was being forced to spend its own money to ensure safety in tower blocks such as the Chalcots estate, which two weeks ago was evacuated at the behest of fire safety officers.

Today Chalcots residents begin to be allowed back in phases returns to their homes in phases on the advice of the fire brigade. Residents of 10 lower floors across Burnham and Bray towers have been contacted by fire safety officers and told they may return. All residents are expected to be back in their homes by the end of the month, though non-vital work will continue after that point.

Ms Siddiq argued that with councils on tighter budgetary restraints than ever, the government should step in to shoulder some of the financial burden.

“Camden council is spending its own money trying to make sure that the [Chalcotts towers] are fit for purpose before the residents are placed in there again,” Ms Siddiq said. She then asked Labour’s shadow housing minister, John Healey, to back her call for the government to give more money to local authorities to ensure fire safety ‘after years of cutting their budgets’.

Mr Healey readily concurred with Ms Siddiq. “I pay tribute to the tough decisions made by Camden council,” said the MP for Wentworth and Deane, who previously served as Gordon Brown’s parliamentary private secretary. “My worry is that housing associations and landlords will cut corners because they can’t afford to do the works required either to replace the cladding or to make the insides of buildings safe from fire.”

Responding, a spokesperson for the Department of Communities and Local Government told the Ham&High that finance should not be an issue when it comes to fire safety. “Where work is necessary to ensure the fire safety of social housing, we will ensure that lack of financial resources will not prevent it going ahead,” the spokesperson said, though he declined to set out what form any extra funding would take, or whether it would be available to housing associations as well as local authorities.