My partner John sent the letter below to our MP, Meg Hillier, today. If and when she replies, I'll let you know. In the meantime, get yerselves down to the rail unions' demonstration on Saturday, on your way to No Sweat conference!
19th November 2005
Meg Hillier MP
Dear Ms Hillier
Please find enclosed a printed copy of EDM 549, ‘Fire Precautions Regulations’. Would you please kindly add your name to this? I ask this of you as my Member of Parliament.
I personally have been employed on London Underground since September 1985, all that time in stations operations. I was around before the fire in 1987 at King’s Cross. Indeed, I was on duty at Hammersmith station on the night concerned. I can remember the news coming through of dead bodies. I personally knew staff who were at King’s Cross.
The improved fire safety standards – and in particular the 1989 Regulations which empowered the Fire Brigade to enforce certain standards – were received by the staff and people who use the Tube with relief and assurance that the Underground would have to improve on safety and never step backwards.
Accordingly, the very idea that the government would relax the Regulations has been received with shock and horror. In considering a return to ‘self-regulation’ and allowing the Tube’s management to ‘police’ their own enforcement through risk assessments, the government is failing to learn the lessons of the past. Were the screams that my colleagues heard in November 1987 lost in the desire to save cash?!
As a Labour movement supporter, I can not express the disgust and betrayal felt from the action coming from a Labour government.
Additionally, the Fire Precautions Regulations have led to the culture of safety that we require to deal with the ever-present terrorist threat. Therefore, the proposal to dilute that really is a double attack on the safety regime of the Tube.
Staffing levels, means of escape, raising the alarm, … all of these crucial issues will be undermined by the removal of the 1989 Regulations. Please sign the Early Day Motion to enable myself and my colleagues to know that the MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch is on the side of safety, security and people over profit on the London Underground.
PS. Please acknowledge this letter – I would very much welcome your views as well as support.
Meg Hillier has replied, saying that she is happy to sign the EDM. This is the first time I have known her to do anything rebellious. So there you go - it's definitely worth writing to your MP about this issue (and others).