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Scottish student leaders call for safety review after Bolton fire

They have written to the Scottish government in the wake of a fire at a building in Bolton on Friday.

Hundreds of University of Bolton students were forced to flee as flames tore through The Cube.

The Scottish government said it would take “any necessary steps” to maintain safety after the fire service had completed its investigation.

The letter has been signed by the student presidents at many colleges and universities, as well as the president of NUS Scotland, Liam McCabe.

They warn that the sector has suffered from under-regulation and raise concerns about some privately-built student halls.

Fire alarm failures

The letter says the “horrific incident” in Bolton, which left 212 students homeless, “shined a light on the problems with student accommodation which has us concerned for student safety”.

It adds: “As student leaders, we are concerned for the safety of the tens of thousands of students across Scotland who are currently living in student halls. We are particularly worried for students who are living in private, purpose-built student accommodation, rapid construction of which has expanded exponentially over the last few years.”

Bolton fire
Image copyrightGMFRS
Image captionThe blaze at The Cube in Bolton took more than nine hours to bring under control

They called on the Scottish government to “immediately initiate a review of student accommodation to ensure that the homes of Scotland’s students are safe.

“The student housing sector has always suffered from under-regulation and we believe the time is now to learn lessons from Bolton to ensure this does not happen again.”

Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “The safety of people is our primary concern.

“Although we already have stringent regulations in place, the Scottish Funding Council is urgently considering what further action may be required following the fire at privately owned student accommodation in Bolton.

“The cause of the fire, and any role external cladding played in how it spread, is being investigated by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. The Scottish government will review the investigation’s findings closely and take any necessary steps to maintain safety through our Building and Fire Safety Ministerial Working Group.”

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