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As secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, Michael Gove’s recent comments regarding the Building Safety Bill seems to be a case of ‘too little too late’ and with memories in my own mind of incompetence and negligence dating back to the Aberfan disaster in 1966, this certainly isn’t the first, nor will it be the last time, that a man or woman in a high-profile position has spoken out about a tragedy, but then does little to make sure that something similar never happens again.

Gove has vowed to ‘expose and pursue’ firms responsible for safety problems caused by cladding, but unfortunately, the problem lies a lot deeper than that and without an independent regulator on every single project, the same issues will continue to surface time and time again.

The government is currently working towards securing in excess of £4bn from developers towards new costs incurred on buildings and with the message sent out by the government that developers will now need to pay to remove cladding from lower-height buildings, on paper, there is cause for optimism.

However, having worked in the construction sector for over three decades, I know that there are much deeper rooted issues to sort first before we can safely say that a Grenfell style tragedy will never happen again.

As I previously mentioned, the Aberfan landslide is still fresh in my memory from ‘66 and despite there being 144 deaths caused by this laxity, 55 years later there has been no prosecutions or anyone brought forward to be made responsible for this, and while people continue to allow projects to be built knowing that they are not right, things won’t change.

People aren’t openly telling the truth about what is going on behind the scenes in a lot of instances and although Michael Gove is now going after the developers, there is no talk about the subcontractors who are working on these projects and allowing them to move onto the next level of progression, despite knowing that the previous stage is yet to be fully finished.

The quality checking of work has deteriorated year on year in our sector and with most projects no longer having any clerk of works on site, there is now very limited architect/engineer site involvement and with the only checks and balances being carried out by building inspectors, most directly employed by the contractor who is partisan companies that are simply paid to do a job – which is an analogy I like to call ‘the poacher employing the game keeper’.

Going forward, it is imperative that we see a system introduced by the government in which developers and building contractors by law have to take greater responsibility in seeing their work carried out to the very highest standard and I will be lobbying and watching closely to see how, if at all, Michael Gove’s personal mission gathers steam in the upcoming months.

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