Ronan Point:There was a democracy open to ordinary people that we sorely need now.

Journalist Hugh Muir recounts his memories of reporting on the Ronan Point tragedy. He is now Associate Editor of Guardian Opinion. Hugh Muir was a reporter on The Recorder in the eighties. He recalls his time on the paper, witnessing the power of ordinary people to incite lasting change. Hugh Muir Picture: Felix Clay I have many memories from my time on the Newham Recorder. It was always a brilliant news patch – crime stories, political stories, protest marches. We seldom struggled to fill the paper. But one of my most enduring memories involves the time I spent with a group of ordinary people who became worried about the safety of their homes and decided to do something about it. Back in t

A betrayal of the Grenfell bereaved and survivors?

Louise Christian, the Solicitor who represented the families of the bereaved of the Lakanal House Fire at their inquest has kindly analysed and written this critique of the Dame Judith Hackitt Review specifically for us at Tower Blocks UK. The Review of Building Control by Dame Judith Hackitt – a betrayal of the Grenfell bereaved and survivors? Campaigners for justice over Grenfell quite rightly demand that the government ensures that such a tragedy never happens again. There is to be a Public Inquiry starting on 21st May but amid concerns that this would take a long time, the government commissioned Dame Judith Hackitt the previous Head of the Health and Safety Executive to review the Build

Reverberations from the Past

On 16 May we attended the Memorial event at St Marks Centre which marked the 50th anniversary of the partial collapse of Ronan Point. Meticulous and thoughtful planning by Pat Jolly ensured that the event was dignified and well attended by around 100 people who had links with Ronan Point. There were relatives of the four people who died, Tommy & Pauline Morrell, Mr McClusky and Edith Bridgestock, those who survived the disaster, and those who lived in the block after it was re-built. This included Julia Jeffers whose parents were a teacher at Cumberland School and Nurse at Newham General Hospital who moved into the 12th floor of the re-opened Ronan Point in 1973. She was seven in 1983 when

Develop a National Culture of Engagement

Tower Blocks UK welcomes Dame Judith Hackitts' recommendation that "Government should provide funding for organisations working at both local and national level to provide advice, guidance and support to residents, landlords and building owners on effective resident involvement and engagement in order to develop a national culture of engagement for residents of all tenures". We set up Tower Blocks UK after the Grenfell Tower disaster because we found no national body able to provide advice and support to tower block tenants and landlords. Our research has told us that the tenants' movement in this country is now very weak as the result of funding cuts. Dame Judith is right, if tower block te

Resident calls for combustible cladding ban ignored in final Hackitt report

But review leader says she would support a government decision to ban combustible materials Calls by survivors of the Grenfell tragedy to ban combustible cladding materials have gone unheard in the final report of Dame Judith Hackitt’s review into building safety. Hackitt’s report called for “less prescriptive” building regulations but she conceded she would support government if it decided to ban the controversial materials. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme ahead of the report’s release, Hackitt moved to assure the public that residents had been listened to. She said: “I have talked to residents from Grenfell, I have talked to residents from many other tower blocks around the count

Dame Judith Hackitt Report

The Hackitt Review: key recommendations at-a-glance Inside Housing breaks down the key areas of the final report from Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of building regulations. Tower Blocks Dame Judith’s report, as tipped by Inside Housing, recommends a “new regulatory regime” for tower blocks. However, in a somewhat surprising move, this new regime will only apply to buildings with 10 storeys or more. The report does not explain specifically why this particular threshold has been chosen. Up until now, building regulation guidance has drawn a distinction between buildings with fewer than six storeys and those with six storeys or more, recommending greater care be taken for fire safety on taller b

Ronan Point 50 Years On

Frances Clarke has written an article for Inside Housing Magazine Ronan Point 50 years on: are tenants being listened to on safety? Read the article here

No lessons learned following Ronan Point

Large Panel System (LPS) built tower blocks was the cheap and expedient response to post war housing need. Yet the system was fatally flawed and now widely discredited. Yet it seems many seriously unsafe buildings remain. It is 50 years since Ronan Point collapsed and in the wake of the disasters at Lakanal House and Grenfell Tower Danielle Gregory from Ledbury Estate calls for urgent action. She says " It was thought that the Ledbury Estate was a one-off, one estate which had somehow slipped through the net and not been strengthened." Through her initial research Danielle has identified that there are potentially at risk blocks in Hackney, Haringey, Hammersmith & Fulham, Leicester, Lewisham

Karen Buck's Bill-the difference the law could make

One reform which is presently being discussed in Parliament is the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill. Sponsored by the Labour MP Karen Buck, it might be of real value to tenants, especially tenants in tower blocks. To understand why it is needed, the place to begin is the two main statutes which protect tenants where homes have been allowed to fall into disrepair. The first is the landlord's duty to keep the structure and exterior of a property in repair. Contained in s11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, this right protects all tenants. It has been in law for thirty years, so most landlords (even most private landlords) know about it. If you lo

Sam Webbs Newsfeed - Hackitt Review

We are concerned that the Dame Judith Hackitt Review, which is due for publication this week on Thursday 17 May will not call for a ban on the use of combustible materials or desktop studies of potential fire risks by the building industry. We also fear there will be no clear call for sprinklers in all tower blocks, including retro-fitting into existing blocks, and more than one fire escape. The safety of all Large Panel Systems (LPS) must be addressed and the knowledge and voice of tenants must be listened to and acted upon. Sam Webb has collated a newsfeed of relevant articles which flag up these concerns - find this on the website under Dame Judith Hackitt Review where we will be posting

Tenants Voice in Hackitt Review

Darren Hartley who is chairing the Residents Voice Working Group of the Hackitt Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety post Grenfell Tower has written this article specifically for Tower Blocks UK. The Hackitt report review is due to report on Thursday 17 May. Darren is Chief Executive of TAROE (Tenants and Residents Organisations of England ) Post-Grenfell: The importance of re-building the trust and confidence of residents 9 May 2018. As the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire approaches, it is worthwhile reflecting on what lessons need to be learnt to ensure that the voices of residents are heard, and that trust and confidence can be re-built. In the immediate aftermath of the

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