No fire checks on some local authority houses due to lack of resources

Bill to let developments of 20 houses or more continue if planning is expiring

 Grenfell tower in west London on June 15th,  a day after it was gutted by fire. Photograph: AFP Photo

Grenfell tower in west London on June 15th, a day after it was gutted by fire. Photograph: AFP Photo

 

Fire and safety inspections have not been carried out in up to 50 per cent of housing that some local authorities have responsibility for due to a lack of resources.

Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen said in the wake of the Grenfell tower fire tragedy in London local authorities have expressed concern about manpower and resources to inspect properties that are let and subvented by the State by means of the housing assistance payment and other schemes.

He appealed to Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to accept what the city and county councils were saying.

Mr Cowen acknowledged that Mr Murphy “has undertaken an audit of the inspection process in respect of health and safety and fire regulations, and the way the system is adhered to, implemented and policed”.

However, he said in some local authority areas “up to half the properties have not yet been inspected, and there is an eight-month policy thereafter when the requirement comes into force and properties must be inspected”.

Continue work

Mr Cowen was speaking as the Dáil debated emergency legislation to allow building developments of 20 housing units or more to continue construction even if their planning permission is expiring.

The Planning and Development (Amendment) (No 2) Bill will allow between 50 and 100 developments to continue work where otherwise, the Minister said, they would have to down tools.

Mr Murphy said many approved developments could not finish without the timeframe being extended, in some cases for a second five-year term. Some planning permissions were granted during the boom but building halted in the recession and permissions subsequently expired.