Tory anger over Labour silence on tower block fire

TWO LITTLE THURROCK COUNCILLORS have reacted angrily after Thurrock Council’s portfolio holder for housing, Councillor Andy Smith, ignored their calls for him to give a statement into a recent fire at a block of high-rise flats in their ward.

Concerned residents from Keir Hardie House in Blackshots contacted Councillors Ben Maney and Joy Redsell following a fire in an internal bin storage area on 27 November.

In response to their constituents’ concerns the two councillors sent an email to Cllr Smith, the Mayor and Chief Executive asking for a verbal statement to be given at the meeting of Full Council on the 01 December; a plea that went ignored.

Cllr Redsell said: “We heard from residents who were panicked by the fire at Keir Hardie House. They were amazed that there was no alarm system on individual floors and those people living higher up the tower block were oblivious to the fire below. Many families only knew there was a fire when other residents telephoned them and told them to get out. Some families have told us how they ran into the communal areas only to be met with what they described as thick smoke. We spent the whole of full council waiting for the portfolio holder to give a statement on this incident but were gobsmacked when the meeting closed with Cllr Smith firmly seated”.

Cllr Maney added “It was only ever our intention to allow Cllr Smith the opportunity to reassure our residents that their safety was paramount. The tragic fire two years ago at Laknal House in London is fresh in people’s minds and some public reassurance would have gone a long way.

Thankfully, the emergency services dealt swiftly with this incident but we must ensure that residents know what to do should there be a repeat of any such incident.

Clearly, some had no idea and Cllr Smith should be thoroughly ashamed of himself for not even having the decency to respond to the concerns of local residents”.

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