Letter – Grenfell Tower Fire – Peter Kent

Reproduced from a letter sent by member Peter Kent to The Guardian and published there on 20th December 2017. Original link

Wednesday 20th December, 2017

The report by Judith Hackitt (Building regulations open to abuse – Grenfell review, 19 December) highlights the “mindset of doing things as cheaply as possible and passing on responsibility for problems and shortcomings”. One longstanding and illogical result of this is the Thatcher government’s decision to introduce competition into building control.

This was, and remains, the only regulatory function of local government to be subjected to competition. It was originally done as part of a deal by Michael Heseltine with Tory councillors who objected to his suggestions for the private sector to take control of planning decisions. Since then, despite frequent pleas from the Local Government Association (I was its spokesperson on building control) there has been no level playing field. The private sector recruits people who have been trained at public expense, and cherrypicks the most lucrative schemes, while leaving the rest to councils – who of course pick up the tab for enforcement.

Few MPs even realise this has been going on, and many are appalled when they find out. A fair deal is well overdue.

Peter Kent

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