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Call for smoke alarm legislation deadline to be put back


By Jonathan Clark

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CONCERNS have been raised about new Scottish Government legislation which makes it a legal requirement for all homes to have interlinked smoke and carbon monoxide alarms by February 2021.

Illustration of a smoke alarm sounding off in a smoky room.
Illustration of a smoke alarm sounding off in a smoky room.

Under the new rules, Scottish home owners must have a ceiling-mounted smoke alarm in their living room, hallways and landings, a heat alarm in every kitchen and carbon monoxide alarms by all fixed combustion appliances such as boilers and wood-burners.

The Conservative's Scottish leader, MP Douglas Ross, said that, although leaflets have been delivered to houses, there has been "very little publicity" about the new law, and said there are concerns about the cost and the ability to get everything fitted by February given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

He has suggested moving the deadline for completion back to 2022.

Moray SNP MSP Richard Lochhead has said he is aware of the concerns and has discussed them with housing minister Kevin Stewart – but insisted the legislation will save lives.

Mr Ross said: "This legislation was recently rubber stamped by the Scottish Government but there has been very little publicity about it and people are simply not aware of the requirements.

"It will cost the average home-owner between £200 and £300 to make their property compliant with the law.

"It’s absolutely staggering that there has been a lack of published information from the SNP Government, who have a duty to make the public aware and put mechanisms in place for people to have this work done safely and at an affordable cost.

Douglas Ross...Moray MP Douglas Ross has been appointed Scottish Conservative leader...Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Douglas Ross...Moray MP Douglas Ross has been appointed Scottish Conservative leader...Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

“Constituents who have found out about this have contacted me asking why, particularly in the middle of a pandemic with all the uncertainty and worries that people currently have, is this legislation being introduced with just four months-notice and without advice or guidance?

"It also raises concerns about additional people coming into others homes at a time when the guidance is to reduce this as much as possible. While tradespeople can still enter homes for work under the current guidance, the volume of visits needed to bring every house in Scotland up to standard by February is significant.

“Community safety is absolutely vital and is paramount at all times, but during a pandemic when money is tight this is an unacceptable and unrealistic target. The Scottish Government should push the deadline back into 2022 to allow people more time to comply."

Richard Lochhead said he was aware of the concerns – but pointed out that the measures have been welcomed by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and will save lives.

He said: “I’m aware that there are some concerns about the time scale and cost involved in meeting these new regulations, particularly given we are in the middle of a pandemic.

Moray's SNP MSP Richard Lochhead.
Moray's SNP MSP Richard Lochhead.

"I have spoken to the housing minister and we had a positive discussion around those concerns. He assured me that he recognises some of the issues that have been raised and he’s investigating what steps the Scottish Government can take to support home owners meet these new requirements and I expect to hear back from him very soon.

"The tragic events at Grenfell Tower in 2017 emphasised how important building and fire safety is, which is why, following consultation, the Scottish Government announced in 2018 that the standards that already existed in the private rented sector should apply to all homes.

“It is clear that one death from residential fires is one too many, and these measures have been welcomed by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

"The aim of these new regulations is to ensure that everyone will benefit from the same high level of protection –whether they own their home or rent from a social or private landlord.”

Share your views by emailing newsdesk@hnmedia.co.uk

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