Following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower, I appreciate that many residents are concerned about the safety of their own living conditions and that of their family and friends in tower blocks across Leeds. The fire at Grenfell Tower is devastating and I know local people want assurances that fire safety is a top priority for Leeds City Council and private landlords moving forward.
Just after I became MP for Leeds West seven years ago, I surveyed local council high-rises and found many residents were unhappy. Often, the lifts did not work and there were complaints about uncleared rubbish, anti-social behaviour and the failure to carry out repairs swiftly.
I campaigned for the blocks to be taken back under the control of Leeds City Council and I am glad that happened. It is a change that has undoubtedly improved the situation for tenants. However, the council’s work has been made harder due to relentless budget cuts under the Tories. Since 2010, the Tories have cut Leeds City Council’s core funding by £214m.
Despite those cuts, the council is working hard to reassure people in high rises. The council is desperate to do more but simply does not have the money. Theresa May could solve that by releasing the £30m needed to install sprinklers.
Read more of my thoughts on this matter in my article for the Yorkshire Evening Post: