South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has welcomed a joint statement from local government umbrella body COSLA and the Scottish Government which states that councils intend to take a ‘proportionate and measured’ approach to forthcoming smoke alarm legislation.
The statement reads: “Improving fire safety remains an important priority for both national and local government. The legislation provides flexibility for people to fit the necessary alarms in due course if they are unable to do so by the February 2022 deadline.
“As a result, local authorities will be taking a proportionate and measured approach to compliance taking individual circumstances into account as well as reflecting the evolving situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. No one will be criminalised if they need more time and there are no penalties for non-compliance. However, we would encourage everyone to install these alarms, which can help save lives.”
In the Scottish Parliament last week, Labour secured an urgent statement from the Scottish Government on their new law that will mean all homes must fit interlinked smoke alarms in the living room, hallways and landings and a heat alarm in the kitchen by a deadline of 1 February. Carbon monoxide alarms must also be fitted next to a fuel-burning appliance like a boiler. The cost to households is estimated to be around £220.
The new legislation has been beset by problems, including a lack of public awareness, affordability worries, and even a shortage of equipment.
Labour used the statement in the Scottish Parliament to back calls for a delay- but the move was dismissed by the Scottish Government.
Colin Smyth said: “While this statement from COSLA is a step forward, it doesn’t detract from the fact that the Scottish Government should have delayed the implementation of these new rules when they had the chance.
“It is disgraceful that local councils have had to step in to reassure members of the public.
“This was supposed to be a chance to improve safety in our homes which I fully back, but the SNP have let it descend into chaos and they can’t answer basic questions my constituents have.
“There are still serious questions over whether insurance policies could be voided, supply shortages have still not been dealt with and the help to those on low income is not good enough.
“I know that many people are unable to find someone to fit these alarms and I would urge people to check with their home insurance providers until they can get them fitted.
“I have been inundated by constituents worried about being in breach of the law, because they can’t afford the alarms or can’t find them, and many people don’t even know they need a new alarm.”