Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fire Cladding test results

The government having asked the authorities responsible for 600 tower blocks with aluminium compound cladding to submit samples for fire safety testing, we hear today that 25 local housing authorities have so far complied, submitting samples of cladding from 60 blocks safety testing and apparently every one has failed.

This does not necessarily mean that every one of those buildings needs to be evacuated but it does suggest that substantial improvements in fire safety are called for.

It is still far too early to start pointing the finger of blame, let alone throwing accusations of murder around for political gain, but it is no longer too early to recognise that this does not appear to be a failure by one council, one small group of people, or one part of the political spectrum - it is far more serious than that.

We seem to be looking not at a local problem but at a nationwide systemic failure of fire regulation. It would appear that either the building regulation rules governing the safety of building cladding are inadequate,  or there has been a widespread failure to apply and enforce them, or both.

And it would appear that these inadequate arrangements have been in place while ministers from every major party have been in office and that councils of every pattern of political control are responsible for buildings in which fire safety is in urgent need of improvement.

In the circumstances I suggest that anyone in any part of the political spectrum who is trying to use the tragic deaths at Grenfell Tower to score political points would be better employed in ensuring that their own party as well as all the others face up to the urgent need to improve fire safety in hundreds of tall buildings throughout our country, including hospitals and other public buildings as well as residential tower blocks.



Anonymous said...

Councils refusing to comply with Statutory Guidance – what a surprise.

Chris Whiteside said...

That is one possibility, and if it turns out that it's what went wrong, we must do something to correct it.

However, we do not yet know that this is what happened.

It is also entirely possible that the building regulations themselves are inadequate.

And if councils have failed to enforce them properly it is entirely possible that this is due to incompetence rather than deliberately refusing to enforce them.

What is clear is that the present system failed the residents of Grenfell Towers and we need to do something about it before it fails anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Cumbria CC and Copeland BC refuse to comply with Statutory Guidance and regulations all the time but nobody does anything about it.

Chris Whiteside said...

I would never want to suggest that Cumbria County Council or Copeland Borough Council always get everything right and if you have a specific example please feel free to contact me.

I have sometimes seen allegations like that one before, and in some of those cases I strongly disagreed with what the relevant authority had done - particularly the previous regime on Copeland BC. I have not yet seen convincing evidence that either Cumbria or Copeland has deliberately chosen to ignore the law or statutory guidance; I have sometimes seen cases where I disagree with how they have applied it.

Anonymous said...

Whitehaven Campus
Mrs Jayne Petersen MA RTPI produced a totally dishonest Report for the Councilors to get the Plans approved as quickly as possible, at any cost, irrespective of the public’s legal rights.