Hackney’s mayor Philip Glanville has appealed to the head of the Grenfell Tower public inquiry to make sure it is “rigorous, far reaching and forensic”.
Survivors of the tragedy, as well as interested parties including local councils, have been asked to help shape the terms of reference of the inquiry, which is being chaired by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick.
Mayor Glanville said: “If both the families affected by the Grenfell tragedy and the wider public are to have confidence in this inquiry, it must be broad, open and allowed to investigate the wider causes of the fire.
“Hackney has already started a wide-ranging fire safety review to make any immediate changes necessary to ensure the safety of our residents, as well as publishing fire risk assessments in our commitment to transparency.
“We stand ready to make whatever changes the inquiry recommends in the interests of our residents, and it’s vital that no stone is left unturned in its work.”
Glanville recommended a wide range of areas for the inquiry to cover, including the role of contractors and the procurement process through which they are appointed by local councils.
As revealed by the Hackney Citizen in late July, the Town Hall said it was left with “no option” but to rehire a contractor, Lakehouse, despite an ongoing fraud probe relating to work it did in the borough.
Glanville urged Moore-Bick to “explore and assess the extent to which existing public sector procurement rules enable transparent information sharing between local authorities and other partners on potential issues of concern relating to fire safety, and the extent of changes that might be necessary in order to allow contractors and their sub-contractors to be held successfully to account on such matters”.
Hackney also wants to see the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) scrap a cap on the amount councils can borrow against future income from rent to spend on housing repairs, maintenance and new housebuilding.
In his letter, Glanville called for DCLG to take “immediate action” and remove the financial restriction so councils are able to quickly and fully implement any recommendations that come out of the inquiry.
He wrote: “I believe that the public inquiry into the cause, context and wider circumstances that gave rise to the Grenfell Tower Fire, as well the consideration of future preventative action to avoid another terrible tragedy must be rigorous, far reaching, forensic and be prepared to doggedly raise and pursue relentlessly – where necessary – difficult issues in a fearless way at the highest level.”
In a veiled reference to Sir John Chilcot’s Iraq Inquiry, which took seven years to publish its findings, Glanville said the council expects the final report on Grenfell not to be “unduly delayed by seeking the views (and amendments) of current and previous ministers and officials before publication”.
You can read Mayor Glanville’s letter to Sir Martin Moore-Bick in full by downloading it here./ 9 August, 2017