Portsmouth councillors demand UK-wide change on tower block safety after Grenfell

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TOP Tory council chiefs are demanding national changes to planning safety rules in the wake of the Grenfell fire tragedy.

Councillors Luke Stubbs and Linda Symes are appealing for support from their colleagues in lobbying for change in how planning applications are scrutinised.

The pair are urging members to support a bid calling on the Local Government Association and the Police and Fire Minister to force all councils to consult with fire services on future plans to build high-rise flats, student sites, schools, hotels and NHS buildings.

It comes ahead of the first anniversary of the deadly Grenfell blaze, which claimed the lives of 71 people last June and sparked an urgent review into the cladding of tower blocks – including some in Portsmouth.

The motion has been drafted by Cllr Stubbs, deputy leader of Portsmouth, and will be debated at next week’s full council meeting.

Cllr Symes, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, backed Cllr Stubbs’s motion. She said: ‘There are always going to be accidents and incidents that we have no control over.

‘But as far as we can we ought to be making sure we have done everything possible to make these buildings safe for people to live in.’

She added: ‘We have to make sure that anything that goes forward in the future has been robustly looked at. Who is better to check for fire safety than the fire service? They’re perfect.’

As well as lobbying for national change, Cllr Stubbs’s motion added: ‘In the meantime, Portsmouth City Council ask the council’s planning committee to consider immediately operating the voluntary process offered by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service to look at the above-mentioned planning applications.’

As previously reported, the city council has spent £1.5m on replacing faulty cladding at Leamington House and Horatia House in Somers Town. The estimated total cost for removing and replacing the cladding is £10m.