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Barking and Dagenham Council launch review into fire safety after Samuel Garside House fire

PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 March 2020

Samuel Garside House in De Pass Gardens at Barking Riverside was extensively damaged in the blaze. Picture: Andrew Brookes.

Samuel Garside House in De Pass Gardens at Barking Riverside was extensively damaged in the blaze. Picture: Andrew Brookes.

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A review into fire safety has been launched by Barking and Dagenham Council, following the Samuel Garside House fire in June.

Samuel Garside House in De Pass Gardens at Barking Riverside before the blaze which destroyed 20 flats. Picture: Google street view.Samuel Garside House in De Pass Gardens at Barking Riverside before the blaze which destroyed 20 flats. Picture: Google street view.

The blaze engulfed the entire block and forced 79 families to flee.

Sir Steve Bullock has been commissioned to lead the review, the findings of which are expected to be published this summer.

He is the chairman of the Housing and Finance Institute and the Sutton Housing Partnership.

The review is expected to urge central government to extend the current powers held by local authorities in emergencies.

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Part of this will involve listening to the stories of those affected by the Samuel Garside fire in De Pass Gardens, Barking, and similar fires elsewhere, as well as testimony from the emergency services and other relevant organisations.

Sir Steve said: “Local authorities are on the frontline when it comes to dealing with emergencies like this, especially in the recovery phase once the first responders have finished their work.

“It’s vital that they have the powers needed to both support their communities in putting their lives back together, and make sure that all those involved are held to account.

“This does not appear to have been an isolated incident as there have been at least three other major fires of similar nature to that at Samuel Garside in the last year alone. This only adds to the urgency of finding a way forward.”

Cllr Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council and executive member for housing and planning for London Councils, said: “We have had to intervene at every stage since the fire.

“Residents were traumatised and felt they had nowhere to go to get answers, so we simply couldn’t turn them away. We’ve had to cover the costs of all of this, which simply can’t be right when the private sector is continuing to put profits before people.”

As the representative for all 33 local authorities in the capital, London Councils also support this review. A spokesperson said: “Fire safety remains a key concern and councils urgently need more powers and resources to ensure improvements are made. This review is an important initiative.”

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