The fall-out from the Grenfell Tower disaster grew more worrying today as it was revealed that councils have estimated that there are “approximately 600 high-rise buildings with similar cladding” to that which is believed to have caused the rapid spread of fire in the building.
It was known that the cladding had been used in other structures around the UK, but it had not been clear just how widespread the use of the material was until today’s statement from Downing Street.
The Press Association reported the following:
“Hundreds of tower blocks in England could be covered in similar cladding to Grenfell Tower, councils have estimated. So far tests have revealed that combustible cladding has been found on at least three tower blocks across the UK, the government has said.
“But Downing Street said English councils estimated that 600 high-rise buildings used similar cladding to the block in west London which was the scene of tragedy last week. Councils were told to provide the government with details of the cladding used on high-rises by Monday and three samples were found to be combustible after tests on a “small number” of specimens.
“Flammable panelling on the outside of Grenfell Tower is suspected to have aided the rapid spread of last week’s blaze, trapping dozens inside. The Department for Communities and Local Government is coordinating the process and facilities allow for 100 samples a day to be tested.
“A No 10 spokeswoman said: “So far, three samples have been found to be combustible.”
“She added: “In terms of how many buildings and how many homes have this type of cladding, the estimate provided to us by councils is that there are approximately 600 high-rise buildings with similar cladding. We are in touch with all the local authorities to encourage them to urgently send us the samples and then we will carry out the checks that we need to see where we are with that.”
“In blocks where the cladding is found to be combustible “we will do a further test to make sure the building is safe” and residents could be rehomed.
“Obviously nobody will be living in buildings that are unsafe, they will be rehoused if they need to be and landlords will be asked to provide alternative accommodation where that’s possible,” the spokeswoman said.”
Sajid Javid, the Secretary for Local Government, will give more details about the testing later.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said that the news “confirms people’s worst fears”.
In a statement, he said:
“There is now a huge amount of work to urgently do to ensure that it is safe for people to remain in properties affected. If not, the government must support people being rehoused immediately while cladding is being removed.”
“The government needs to ensure all resources necessary are made available to local authorities for the testing process, for checking those tower blocks and for rehousing local people in their local community.”