Beechmere Aftermath - building regulations

Crewe & Nantwich MP Laura Smith MP is calling on building regulations to be reviewed after the devastating blaze which ripped through the Beechmere residential complex.

Ms Smith MP spoke out after it emerged the timber-framed building lacked sprinklers and that a “stay put” policy had to be over-ridden by fire chiefs.

She says the incident which led to 150 residents being rescued form the Rolls Avenue site, raises serious questions about building and fire safety regulations.

And she has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, calling for regulations that put people before profit.

“I await the outcome of the formal investigation into the fire before reaching any conclusion but I believe the government needs to urgently review our building regulations,” she said.

“I was shocked to discover that elderly people, many of whom had disabilities and care needs, had been housed in a timber-framed building without any sprinklers and a ‘stay put’ policy in the event of a fire.

“At the time of construction, the company boasted that it had the largest timber content of any development in Europe.

“This will have undoubtedly helped to deliver their PFI contract with the council on budget and on time.

“At the end of the day, companies will work to the rules set by government and we need those rules to put safety first.

Laura Smith at Beechmere fire scene

Laura Smith at Beechmere fire scene

“We need more assisted living homes but we also need to know that people are safe in their beds.

“I have also challenged whether the ‘stay put’ policy is appropriate in these circumstances.

“Thankfully, the Incident Commander made the right call to override the policy and lives were saved.

“I have asked Cheshire East Council to urgently audit buildings in the area to identify any sites where there is a similar risk and to work with Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service to make sure that appropriate fire safety plans are put in place.

“This is especially important where there are children or vulnerable adults with mobility issues involved.”

Ms Smith says she has also sought assurances from Cheshire East Council regarding continuity of local care services.

“It is really important that those residents with care needs continue to have those needs met with minimal disruption and at no extra cost.

“So much of our social care system has been privatised and outsourced, which means there is now uncertainty for residents and their families.

“These elderly and disabled residents deserve to receive care that is at least of the same standard and without having to worry about paying more for it.

“I am also concerned about the care workers at Beechmere, whose livelihoods have been put at risk through no fault of their own.

“It is vital they get support after such a traumatic incident and I have called on Avantage and Cheshire East Council to do everything they can to make sure they remain in employment.

“I have heard many first-hand accounts of how the care workers stayed and helped to get the residents out, despite the ‘stay put’ policy.

“Care workers are too often forgotten at the best of times but we should all recognise their bravery in putting the residents they care for ahead of their own safety.”

Laura Lifestyle Centre

Laura Smith at Crewe Lifestyle Centre

Ms Smith praised the community response and emergency services to the blaze.

“As always, the rapid and professional response from our emergency services has saved lives and they deserve all our thanks.

“We should never take our police, fire and ambulance services for granted.

“Thankfully, we had sufficient resources nearby to keep the situation under control and keep people safe.

“I will always fight to protect our local emergency services. You can’t do public safety on the cheap.

“The community response to the awful fire at Beechmere has blown me away.

“Honestly, I’ve never been prouder to be from Crewe. Whatever is thrown at this town, our ability to pull together in the face of adversity will never be beaten.

“I’ve spent my weekend with many of the affected residents who are incredibly grateful to those who put themselves at risk to assist them and to those rallied around afterwards to provide support.

“It has been a truly sad time for Crewe. Lives have thankfully been saved but livelihoods have not. Lots of irreplaceable personal items have been lost in the fire.

“There is continued uncertainty for many of our elderly and vulnerable residents.

“There are also many questions that need answers if we are to prevent another incident.

“These are issues that I will continue to give my full attention and will offer my support to those affected.

“But for now I want to say thank you to everybody who has played some part in this fantastic effort.”

One Comment

  1. Gemma Thomas says:

    Yes a massive thankyou to all involved in saving precious lives, you should all be very proud of yourselves, utterly brilliant.

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