Sutton Scene - Deputy Leader of the Council Column 19/06/20

Published Friday, 19th June 2020

Councillor Jayne McCoy's column from our Sutton Scene newsletter, Friday 19 June.

Last Sunday was the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire in which 72 people lost their lives and many more lives were changed forever. Sutton marked the anniversary by going Green for Grenfell and the Mayor, Councillor Trish Fivey, was in Sutton High Street to stand in solidarity with all of those affected by this tragedy on behalf of everyone in our borough. 

Grenfell can never be allowed to happen again. Everyone has a right to a home in which they are safe. I hope that this anniversary will bring renewed focus on addressing the problems in our building regulations and fire safety system, as identified in the Hackitt Report, and which are still coming to light in the public enquiry. 

In the wake of the Grenfell tragedy councils, including Sutton, acted quickly to reassure residents and start the work necessary in light of Grenfell. It is deeply concerning that three years after the fire the Government still hasn’t implemented its plans for a more rigorous regulatory system or committed the funding required to complete these works across the country. Thousands of buildings are still covered in potentially dangerous cladding and the Government is yet to publish its promised white paper on social housing reforms and empowering tenants. 

During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, when we are all spending more time at home, thousands of people across the country have been confined to unsafe buildings and we should never forget that they are living with the effects of this every day. 

We know that COVID-19 is laying bare the inequalities that exist in this country. Communities that are most affected by overcrowded housing are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. A recent Public Health England report found that mortality rates are significantly higher for those within our Black and Minority Ethnic communities, as well as for those that live in the most deprived areas. The Grenfell fire was a manifestation of these same inequalities and of what can happen when people’s concerns are ignored.