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Government announces emergency inspections of tower blocks

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All 4,000 high-rise tower blocks in the UK similar to Grenfell Tower are to face inspections, communities secretary Savid Javid has announced

Speaking on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Javid agreed with presenter John Humphrys that there were 4,000 tall buildings similar to Grenfell Tower in the UK, and said: ’There will be emergency inspections of all similar buildings across the country. The work is starting now; we are in contact with local authorities, with social housing providers.’

He added that fire inspectors were looking for new information on the Grenfell Tower fire and its cause, with the information informing an emergency review of fire safety in high-rise tower blocks. 

Javid said the government would respond to the advice of the fire investigators by doing ‘whatever is necessary’. 

He told the programme: ‘Whatever they tell us is required to make those people safe – whether it’s changes to the buildings, whether it is rehousing, whatever it is – that is what will have to be done.’

At least 30 people have died in the fire which broke out in the early hours of Wednesday morning, with that number expected to rise given that up to 76 remain missing.

Pressing Javid, Humphrys cited an architect who had claimed that if the cladding had been installed correctly, with fire breaks at every floor and around every window, then the flames could not have ‘swept through [the building] the way they did’.

The Today presenter also questioned why recommendations and advice from the March 2013 coroner’s report into the Lakanal House fire had not been followed.

A spokesperson from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) confirmed: ’We have set up an Emergency Fire Safety Review of similar buildings throughout the country, to address the understandable anxiety of tenants about the safety of their homes.’

They added: ’We have begun a thorough audit of all local authorities to determine how many tower blocks may be of concern.

‘DCLG are today calling all local authority landlords and major housing associations in order to confirm how many tower blocks above six storeys they have.’

According to the DCLG this audit will include, identifying the number of council and housing association-owned or managed tower blocks above six stories in each local authority; if any other residential buildings are at risk; whether these buildings have been refurbished in the last 15 years; and if these buildings have had any works relating to external cladding.

Yesterday, the Metropolitan Police Service confirmed it would be launching a criminal investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire. 

Speaking on Thursday (15 June), Metropolitan Police Service commander Stuart Cundy said: ‘It is going to take a considerable period of time, and the building needs to be made structurally safe, in order that we can do our job and investigate.

’A large team of specialist detectives will be investigating under Detective Chief Inspector Matt Bonner, alongside colleagues from the fire brigade. But I reiterate again, it is going to be a lengthy process.’

Prime minister Theresa May has ordered an independent public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire. Meanwhile, London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for an interim report into the fire to be published this summer.

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