Local Government and Communities Committee
Meeting date: Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Agenda: Decision on Taking Business in Private, Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Budget Scrutiny 2020-21, Petition
- Decision on Taking Business in Private
- Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1
- Budget Scrutiny 2020-21
Fire Safety (Stay-put Policy) (PE1719)
Agenda item 4 is consideration of PE1719 from Rachel Gibson on behalf of Cartcraigs Road tenants association. It calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to review the current stay-put policy as it applies to the fire strategy for existing multistorey residential buildings. The petitioner has provided for our consideration a short update, which is attached to the public paper.
I refer members to the note by the clerk, and I invite comments. There is a recommendation to keep the petition open and to raise issues that are relevant to the petition with the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning at our evidence session on building regulations and fire safety on 22 January. We can consider next steps after that.
Are there any comments?
It would be interesting to hear from the minister on the general issues, but my understanding is that the stay-put advice is an operational matter for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, so it is unlikely that we will get to the nub of the issue without speaking to the service.
The Scottish Government is aware of that and there is the option to discuss that point at a later meeting.
From the evidence that has been submitted to the Public Petitions Committee on the petition, it is clear that the stay-put policy remains the operational principle of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the National Fire Chiefs Council. One of the workstreams of the Scottish Government ministerial working group was a review of Scottish fire-safety regimes for domestic high-rise properties. Several recommendations were made by that group, one of the most valuable of which was that better fire safety guidance should be provided for residents, which is very welcome.
I note that the petitioner lives in a high-rise building. I have no doubt about the anxiety that must have been induced by the Grenfell Tower fire and the associated publicity, so I have a lot of sympathy with the petitioner. Having looked at the evidence to the Public Petitions Committee, I am not convinced that there is any evidence that the stay-put policy should go; it is a default position that can be—and is—departed from by the fire services when they consider that to be necessary. It is a default position that has been established for many years.
The second part of the Grenfell inquiry has still to be concluded. There will always be incidents of a policy that has been adopted not being properly implemented. There is no doubt that there will be errors and mistakes made by all public services now and again. That does not, in and of itself, justify changing the policy. I do not see evidence that suggests that it needs to be reviewed. However, I am happy to defer such questions until the meeting with the minister later this month.
I broadly agree with that. The points that are made in the petition and the additional comments in annex A flag up people’s concerns about whether buildings are compromised, either because of external cladding faults or lack of fire-safe doors. Those are the things that sit as a framework behind the stay-put policy. We need to raise those particular issues about the integrity of buildings and the fire safety policy with the minister when we speak to him next.
Okay. Is it agreed that we can discuss the points that have been raised with the minister?
Members indicated agreement.
Cartcraigs Road is in my constituency, so I am very keen to get a suitable response from the minister.12:44 Meeting continued in private until 12:45.
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