Lanarkshire councilors call for smoke alarm laws to be delayed


North Lanarkshire councilors criticized new fire alarm legislation that came into force on Tuesday.

From February 1, all homes in Scotland must have interconnected, ceiling-mounted smoke detectors, both in the most used space, usually the living room, and in the circulation areas on each floor, as well as an alarm heat in the kitchen and carbon monoxide detector for appliances such as boilers.

Conservative politicians in North Lanarkshire are calling for a further postponement of the scheme, saying many owners are “still completely unaware of the changes”; while the council’s Labor administration says the launch is “nothing short of a disaster”.

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The implementation has already been delayed 12 months due to Covid; but the Scottish government has rejected calls for a further postponement.

Housing Secretary Shona Robison told MSPs last week: “Having considered the balance of risks, it is clear to me that it is not right to delay legislation designed to protect and save lives – improved standards will reduce the risk of injury and death. for domestic fires. ”

Councilors now say they are receiving constituent complaints and concerns ahead of the deadline and that owners are having difficulty accessing the £220 kit and arranging for its installation.

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Conservative Member Colin Cameron added: “I have received many complaints from constituents regarding the availability of smoke detectors and the lack of information from the Scottish Government to households in North Lanarkshire.

“I have attended the best I could, but it highlights the total incompetence of this SNP government.

“There needs to be more delays to ensure that people are fully aware of this new legislation and to allow more time to get the right smoke alarms so they can be installed in their homes.”

Party colleague Meghan Gallacher MSP agreed, saying: “The lack of advance planning and lack of adequate publicity for these changes means that the current timescale is completely unattainable – homeowners do not deserve to be trapped by these changes. imminent.

“SNP ministers have no idea how many households currently do not meet the requirements but go ahead anyway, [and] their own analysis shows that one in 10 households is unaware of the legislation, let alone what it will mean in practice.”

Meanwhile, the Labor administration in North Lanarkshire says additional funding is needed as well as more time for landlords to comply with the updated rules and highlighted reports that funds provided to help elderly and disabled residents have dried up in areas including neighboring South Lanarkshire.

Community Safety Partnership forum convener Angela Campbell said: “North Lanarkshire councilors are being inundated by anxious residents concerned about the potential ramifications of not complying with this law due to this shortage.

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“It is not enough for the SNP to simply say that the regulation of these changes will be ‘light’; if they want this implementation to go ahead, they must provide the necessary funding and support along with a more realistic timeline.

“Only then will our residents be sure they are not breaking the law through no fault of their own; SNP ministers are failing the elderly and vulnerable by doggedly pushing this failed law.”

The legislation follows a public consultation carried out after the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy, and now extends standards that already apply to new-build and private rental properties to a further 1.5 million owner-occupied homes. and those rented by municipalities and social owners.

Coatbridge & Chryston SNP member Fulton MacGregor MSP backed the original one-year extension during the height of the pandemic, but told Lanarkshire Live this week: “This legislation is ultimately designed to protect lives and I don’t think delaying will no longer be of benefit when we consider the risks.

“There were 44 deaths due to house fires in Scotland in 2020-2021. That’s 44 too many and this legislation will help ensure residents are alerted as soon as a fire starts, giving them more time to escape.

“I understand why some voters are anxious, but I would assure them there is no reason to be: no one will be criminalized if they need more time to install, and there are no penalties for non-compliance.”

He added of the funding: “We have provided £1.5m to help homeowners install the right alarms. If anyone is unsure about this legislation, my office is here to help as always and I encourage constituents to get in touch.”

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Speaking at Holyrood, Ms Robison told MSPs: “I am aware of concerns about the validity of home insurance policies if the new legislation is not complied with, but I assure people that is not the case. .

“Although insurers may ask customers questions about whether their property is equipped with working fire alarms, they are not likely to ask questions about specific standards.

“Local authorities have a duty to ensure compliance with the rules in their area and will take a proportionate and measured approach; no one will be penalized if they need more time, although I strongly encourage all homeowners to make the changes.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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