Jenny Jones draws attention to ‘shocking similarities’ with Lakanal blaze

The public inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower must look at whether “inaction” by the government or building professions was responsible for the tragedy, said Green peer Jenny Jones.

She said there appeared to be “shocking similarities” between Wednesday’s fire and the one at Lakanal House in Southwark in 2009 which killed six people.

Jones, who was chair of the London Assembly’s housing and planning committee at the time of the Lakanal fire, commissioned an assembly report into the safety of tall buildings which was published with a series of recommendations in December 2010. 

Jones welcomed the prime minister’s announcement yesterday that there would be a full public inquiry into the west London blaze which is so far known to have killed more than 30 people.

This morning Scotland Yard was reported to be opening a criminal investigation into the tragedy.

In a statement issued last night Jones said: “The remit of the public inquiry must include an examination of whether any of the lessons of the Lakanal fire have been learnt. And whether inaction by the government or the building professions led directly to the Grenfell tragedy?

“It was clear in 2009 that the system of fire safety checks was not working properly and inadequate building regulations relating to the outside panels was partly responsible for the rapid spread of the fire.

“Those doubts continued to be expressed in the years after the Lakanal House fire as recommendations made by the inquest were not properly followed through. There appear to be shocking similarities between the causes of deaths in the two fires. Instead of changes being made and the government saying ‘never again’, we have the horror of Grenfell.

“The Lakanal fire highlighted the lack of coordination between contractors and the local authority. The complaints of residents indicate similar problems may have hindered the refurbishment process at Grenfell and that must be looked at.

“The inquiry must not only put the tenants centre stage and give them a voice but also ask whether tenants across the country need to be given new rights to access information and be part of the decision-making and monitoring process.”