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Opinion: Supporting victims of tower block fire

PUBLISHED: 14:16 06 July 2019

Barking MP Margaret Hodge says another incident like De Pass Gardens  fire can never happen again.

Barking MP Margaret Hodge says another incident like De Pass Gardens fire can never happen again.

Archant

The recent fire in De Pass Gardens was truly devastating and will have surely shocked everyone in Barking and Dagenham.

I have spent the past few weeks working to make sure that everybody affected by the fire is supported and given all the help they need.

The day after the fire I visited the site with the Mayor of London to receive a briefing from the London Fire Brigade.

I also met with residents affected and volunteers at Thames View Community Centre, which has acted as a rest centre. I would like to once again extend my thanks to the dozens of donations made and all the help given. Here, I made it clear to all residents that my team and I are here to help with any short-term issues and with long-term rehousing.

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I have since held a follow up meeting with a number of families whose homes were completely destroyed by the fire. I have made a number of commitments to them to provide all the support and advice I can during this very difficult period.

I have recently held a one-to-one meeting with the leader of the council, where I urged the council to provide a single point of contact so that the most affected residents always feel listened to and kept up to date.

I am pleased that the council has made initial progress securing suitable new housing for those worst affected.

In parliament, I asked the secretary of state for housing a number of important questions about how we can prevent a fire similar to this reoccurring. I asked why smaller blocks of flats are allowed to have untreated wood on their exterior. I also asked why buildings this size are not always fitted with water sprinklers and why residents are unable to hold anybody to account when serious mistakes are made.

I will soon be holding a meeting with the secretary of state for housing where I expect a clear set of answers to my questions. It is unacceptable for inadequate safety regulations to remain unchanged.

Regretfully the damage caused by this fire can never be reversed. However, I will be pushing hard to ensure an incident like this can never happen again.

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