Local MSP Jackie Baillie has sought reassurances from the Scottish Government that it will review building standards regulations for all residential and public buildings in the wake of the disaster at Grenfell Tower in London.
In response, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance, confirmed that the new ministerial working group will widen its scope to include public buildings such as schools and hospitals.
Speaking at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, the Dumbarton MSP also asked the Scottish Government to issue national guidance on the frequency of safety checks carried out by local authorities. This followed concerns raised by local residents that the last full risk assessment on high-rise tower blocks in West Dunbartonshire took place seven years ago. There is currently no time limit on Fire Risk Assessments set down in law and there is an inconsistent approach from local authorities across Scotland.
Jackie Baillie also raised the allegation, in media reports over the weekend, that regulations were watered down in 2013 to allow the use of combustible building materials in high-rise flats. The Cabinet Secretary believed that the pause in West Dunbartonshire Council’s insulation project in 2013 affected low-rise houses, not flats, and that the changes to guidance were only ‘minor’. The Cabinet Secretary agreed to publish all documents and correspondence in relation to this matter so that the public could be reassured.
“I am pleased that the Cabinet Secretary has agreed to consider the need for national guidance on fire safety checks and welcome West Dunbartonshire Council’s commitment to undertaking a full risk assessment as soon as possible. There is a patchy approach from local authorities across Scotland, with some checks taking place more regularly than others, and one of the lessons we must learn is the need for more frequent fire risk assessments in social housing.
“I also welcome the commitment to widening the scope of the review of building standards to include public buildings such as schools and hospitals. Only a full and frank review, followed by swift action to strengthen regulations, will provide the reassurance people across Scotland need that our public buildings are as safe as possible