Monday, 28 May, 2018

Ban on flammable cladding considered after backlash over Grenfell probe

NAPIT Responds to the Hackitt Review 1 Grenfell disaster probe 'finds race to the bottom' in buildings safety practices
Kenny Thornton | 17 May, 2018, 17:05

Judith Hackitt says a new regulatory framework is needed to strengthen the system, though she stopped short of calling for a ban on flammable cladding that is believed to have contributed to the blaze.

In a government-commissioned report, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, the review has been looking into regulations around design, construction and management of buildings in relation to fire safety.

Last June, 71 people died when fire spread up Grenfell Tower's external combustible cladding which had been fitted to meet energy saving targets.

It led to high rises in Sunderland being looked at, and work is now underway at the towers on Dame Dorothy Street having their cladding replaced this week.

"Since the tragedy, the LGA has led calls for a review of building regulations and made the case for systemic change".

But her decision not to advise a ban on combustible cladding or insulation for high-rise buildings drew immediate condemnation from a wide range of critics including the opposition Labour Party.

"There's something seriously wrong with the regulatory system", she said during an interview on BBC Radio 4.

But she did not call for a ban on materials capable of burning from tall buildings, saying: "This is most definitely not a question of the specification of cladding systems".

Gianluigi Buffon to play final game for Juventus on Saturday
That was unthinkable back then, even for me". 'The only problem is that my life has been organised for me for 23 years. That was his 176th cap for Italy - a national record - since his debut against Russian Federation in October 1997.

Social landlords have been working hard to replace unsafe cladding. While the building regulations remain under review, many landlords do not know what materials to use to replace the cladding on the buildings. Interim safety measures are in place in all affected buildings and latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show that over 65% (104 out of 158) of social housing buildings with unsafe cladding are now going through the process of remediation.

However on Wednesday the prime minister announced the government would pay at least £400m for the cladding to be taken down and replaced, following pressure from councils who said they could not afford the works.

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, said the decision was taken partly because "we do not want vital safety work to put at risk our high-priority housebuilding programmes". It has therefore announced additional funding for the social sector.

"This money will ensure local authorities and housing associations are being given the support they need to get this work done now as well as removing the uncertainty around funding".

"There is insufficient focus on delivering the best quality building possible, in order to ensure that residents are safe, and feel safe". "And the housing secretary will set out further details later this week".

But the government said Dame Judith was "an independent and authoritative voice".

"There are people out there taking shortcuts, cutting costs and not taking responsibility for building buildings that are safe for people to live in".

The causes of the Grenfell Tower fire are the subject of an inquiry which is due to start public hearings next week.

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