Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Council Leader's Anger at Minister's Tower Blaze Claim

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Council Leader's Anger at Minister's Tower Blaze Claim

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor @jonwalker121

NEWCASTLE City Council leader Nick Forbes reacted with fury after a senior government minister said local councils face "a looming crisis of trust" following the Grenfell fire disaster.

Sajid Javid, the Local Government Secretary, told a meeting of council leaders: "We failed all the victims of that terrible tragedy."

He told the Local Government Association conference in Birmingham: "In Britain, in 2017, the fire at Grenfell simply should not have been possible".

And he warned: "Speaking to survivors, people in the local community, and people in tower blocks around the country, one thing is abundantly clear.

"Local government is facing a looming crisis of trust."

Coun Forbes, leader of the Local Government Association's Labour group, accused Mr Javid of attempting to shift the blame away from Kensington and Chelsea Council, which was responsible for the tower block where a fire killed at least 80 people.

He said: "This was an utterly tone-deaf response to a national crisis.

"Kensington and Chelsea, a flagship Tory council, has colossally failed, but it is outrageous for Sajid Javid to attempt to tar every local council with the same brush.

"Over the last few weeks, Labour councils have strained every sinew to ensure that residents are safe and secure in their own homes, and many have offered to give direct help to the disaster response in Kensington.

"This was a shameless attempt to shift the blame for a decade of Tory cuts on to the very councils that have suffered most from them.

"His speech went down like a bucket of cold sick. Not only has he alienated the whole local government family, but he's almost certainly ended any chance he had of becoming the next Tory leader."

Cladding from 190 high-rise buildings have so far failed combustibility tests rolled out by the government in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

They include two blocks of student accommodation in Newcastle, not owned by the council, as well as five buildings in Sunderland and three in Stockton-on-Tees. …

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