Cymraeg

Clarity sought on building regs changes

Bethan Jenkins: ‘Wales needs to be proactive on fire safety regulations’

CONCERNS that a Welsh Government consultation ‘could weaken’ certain fire safety regulations have been raised by a Plaid Cymru Assembly Member.

Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Housing Bethan Jenkins has warned that the Labour Welsh Government must not weaken fire safety regulations.

She has pointed out that a recent Labour Government consultation appeared to allow some regulations to be weakened.

The Plaid Cymru AM said that the Welsh Government’s consultation on Proposals to update Approved Building Regulations Documents – which it is due to report back on imminently – was vague on whether the government would weaken regulations on internal fire spread linings.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Housing Bethan Jenkins AM said: “The tragedy that occurred in Grenfell Tower is a reminder to us that we need to be proactive on issues relating to fire regulations, and we should not be reactive when it comes to issues like safety. It’s important that we are at the front of the political agenda in this regard.

“The Labour Welsh Government is currently reviewing fire safety regulations for non-domestic properties, and it is unclear whether it is seeking to weaken some elements of fire regulation. In its consultation the Welsh Government noted that some of its proposals would lead to reduced costs to development and manufacturers – I want the government to give reassurance that reduced costs does not mean reduced safety. We should be very wary after Grenfell of being guided by cost-cutting.

“The consultation also emphasises energy and carbon savings. It has been long known that certain types of lighting are more susceptible to causing fire, yet are more energy efficient, and it has been confirmed today that an electrical fire was the cause of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The Cabinet Secretary needs to reassure us that fire safety is still a top priority, and that it will not be compromised.

“It’s important that the inquiries that take place in Wales include the right people. Whilst I am pleased that the Cabinet Secretary has set up a task group to examine this issue, this cannot be a talking shop. The chief fire officer needs to play an active role in it. I am also pleased that the communities committee is holding a short inquiry into this matter, but it is crucial that it consults with tenants in order to hear their concerns.”

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