‘Absurd’ High-Rise Evacuation Plans For The Disabled Criticised

A government minister has been told that proposed plans to protect disabled residents who would need assistance to evacuate from a high-rise tower block are “dangerously misplaced.”

The Disability News Service reports that under the proposals, only those disabled people living in blocks more than 18 metres in height would be given the legal right to a personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP).

At a parliamentary meeting in July, the proposals were described as “arbitrary”. Sarah Rennie, co-founder of Claddag, a leaseholder disability action group, said this was a “dangerously misplaced assessment of risk”.

Rennie added it would lead to “absurd scenarios where a disabled person living on the ground floor of a high-rise building will have a legal right to a plan but somebody who is maybe on the sixth floor of a mid-rise building won’t be entitled to one”.

The all-party parliamentary consultation which Rennie spoke at was forced to take place after the government tried to water down recommendations on PEEPs made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. A disproportionate number of the 72 residents who died in the 2017 tragedy were disabled, and no PEEPs were in place prior to the fire.

Sir David Amess, the Conservative MP who chairs the fire safety and rescue all-party group, told the meeting that hundreds of blocks of flats were at a heightened risk of fire due to unsafe cladding or other defects, and disabled people were left vulnerable.

Amess said that the height criterion was the wrong test, and that everyone unable to self-evacuate the building must have the right to a PEEP.  Currently, disabled people are routinely refused PEEPs, according to Disability Rights UK.

Building safety minister Lord Greenhalgh said that he had listened to the concerns raised in the meeting, and also said that the cost of PEEPs should lie with the building owner or manager. Once the consultation is complete, the government will seek parliamentary approval for the PEEP regulations.


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