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‘Stephen Williams apparently doesn’t have a view on smoke alarms being mandatory in the private rented sector'

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'so what are we paying him for?' - Thangam Debbonaire

Thangam Debbonaire, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Bristol West, has called on Stephen Williams MP to explain why he didn’t back a simple measure for the safety of many of his constituents.

Backing plans voted on this week that would see landlords required to fit smoke alarms in properties they let out, Thangam has questioned why Stephen Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West, and Minister at the Department responsible for such a measure, abstained from taking a view when the motion passed the Commons.

Evidence shows that smoke alarms lead to fewer casualties, and official statistics reveal that privately rented homes have a lower percentage of smoke alarms when compared to owner occupied, local authority or housing association properties.

Thangam Debbonaire said:

“We learned in March that Stephen Williams doesn’t support many of his own department’s policies and I called on him then to resign from the post he takes a salary for but clearly doesn’t believe in. However, he has continued in post. And this week he failed even to vote on a simple measure that would positively affect many of his constituents.

“Bristol West has a huge concentration of private renters – nearly a quarter of all Bristol households are in privately rented accommodation. Why their Liberal Democrat MP would not actively support a simple measure to keep them safe baffles me. At the very least, express an opinion. Voters in Bristol West pay this man to represent their views and take decisions on their behalf – on this occasion he did neither.”

Last week Labour set out plans to make longer-term three year tenancies the norm and to ban excessive and unpredictable jumps in rent and charges. Backing the mandatory installation of smoke alarms in the private rented sector is the latest part of Labour’s plans to build a safer and more secure private rented sector as part of a recognition that more and more people, unable to afford to buy their own home, are renting as a long term solution.

Thangam added:

“This motion has wide support, including from the trade bodies representing landlords such as the National Landlords Association and the British Property Federation. There are a growing number of people and families in the private rented sector and they deserve better: safer homes that offer greater stability and security.

"A smoke alarm is an inexpensive safety measure that benefits not only tenants but our firefighters by making it less likely that they will have to risk their lives to rescue tenants.”

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