The fire at the The Cube student residence on Friday night was a disaster that should never have happened.
We are massively relieved that no one was killed, and pleased to see the University, as well as many concerned Boltonians striving to care for the students until new accommodation is found and they are able to return to a normal life once more.
There are two points we want to make.
First, there is the question of flammable cladding.
In our letter to the BN on November 1st we pointed out the unacceptable delay in enforcing the removal of all flammable cladding in all buildings, following the Grenfell tragedy. The Financial Times reported last week that there were hundreds of high rise buildings with flammable cladding, and only one government grant awarded to date.
We call upon Bolton Council to join with others across the country to insist the government takes immediate steps to make all buildings safe. This merits a meeting of COBRA, an immediate removal of flammable cladding from all local authority buildings with costs borne by the government, and an enforcement order on private owners to do likewise. Flammable cladding of any kind must be removed, and the costs borne by those responsible for installing it.
The second point we want to make concerns cuts to fire services. The fantastic response of firefighters to the conflagration at The Cube would have been less effective if the proposed cuts across Greater Manchester had taken place. Cuts to fire services must be shelved.
We ask Bolton Council to respond to our concerns about the lack of transparency in government regulation and supervision of building safety, and to support our efforts to ensure action is taken.
Finally, Bolton TUC intends to organise a meeting of residents of high rise buildings along with trade unionists, councillors and other concerned parties in December to pursue all avenues until we have safe buildings properly regulated, and a properly staffed and equipped fire service.