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Theresa May: combustible cladding found on 'number' of towers

theresa may
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Downing Street has said that at least seven tower block schemes in the UK have combustible cladding, like at Grenfell Tower

The government has also said that up to 600 high-rise buildings in the UK have been overclad and are currently being tested in response to the Grenfell Tower fire.

A previous statement suggesting all of these 600 buildings featured the same cladding as at Grenfell tower. 

Earlier today, prime minister Theresa May made a statement to the House of Commons on the tragedy in which she revealed that a ‘number’ of government tests had shown there were more buildings with combustible cladding.

She said the government had arranged to test cladding in all ‘relevant tower blocks’, following the fire last week in west London which killed at least 79 people. 

‘The relevant local authorities and local fire services have been informed,’ she added. ’As I speak they are taking all possible steps to ensure buildings are safe and to inform affected residents.’ 

A number of fire safety experts believe that the Reynobond aluminium composite material (ACM) rainscreen cladding installed on Grenfell Tower was a factor in causing the fire to spread so quickly.

This cladding comes with either a polyethylene core or a slightly more expensive, more fire-resistant honeycombed mineral core. According to a report in The Guardian, at Grenfell, the construction team used the cheaper panels. 

May added: ‘Immediately after this statement, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), will contact any MPs whose constituents are affected.’

Cladding with a combustible polyethylene core is banned on high-rise buildings in the USA and – according to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) – also breach the UK’s Building Regulations 2010, which restrict their use on buildings over 18m tall.

May said the government was able to test more than 100 buildings a day, with the results coming ‘within hours’.

‘I urge any landlord who owns a building of this kind to send samples for testing as soon as possible,’ she said.

‘Landlords have a legal obligation to provide safe buildings, and where they cannot do that, we expect alternative accommodation to be provided.

’We cannot and will not ask people to live in unsafe homes.’

She added that the communities secretary, Sajid Javid, would provide a further update on the situation later today.

In addition, May said the independent public inquiry into the disaster would include survivors and victims’ families – and that the government would pay for their legal representation.

‘No stone will be left unturned in this inquiry,’ she said, and for any guilty parties there will be no where to hide.’

May added that she expected the chair of the inquiry would want to produce an interim report as soon as possible, rather than waiting many years.

May also admitted that the initial response to the tragedy was ‘not good enough’. She said that it was right that the chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea, Nicholas Holgate, had resigned following criticism of the council’s response to the fire.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Last year saw the 350th anniversary of the great fire of London. During the 4 days of that conflagration there was a strong wind blowing unusually from the East and so the flames spread into the heart of the city, consuming St Pauls and threatening the Strand.
    If the wind had been in the more frequent direction, from the West, and the fire had incinerated only the homes and businesses of the poor, would the subsequent establishment of London Building Regulations have happened?
    Fire regulations are based on the sound principle of containment, to minimise the risk of spread of fire and smoke from one property or area to another. Shrouding a building in a flammable sheath plainly goes against that principle.

    Theresa May rightly praised the firefighters who risked their lives at Grenfell Tower and continue searching for for bodies in the hazardous wreckage. Does she reflect on the closure in 2014 of 10 London Fire Stations, as a direct consequence of government cuts to funding of local government?
    This is plainly the result of deregulation and fragmenting services to meant the stringent budget limits set by central government.

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