May 21, 2018

United Kingdom to spend £400m removing Grenfell Tower-style cladding from high-rises

17 May 2018, 06:35 | Taylor George

Grenfell disaster probe 'finds race to the bottom' in buildings safety practices

According to review author Judith Hackitt recommendations of her review

Dame Judith Hackitt has called for "radical reform" of fire safety rules, saying they are not now fit for goal.

"The above issues have helped to create a cultural issue across the sector, which can be described as a "race to the bottom" caused either through indifference, or because the system does not facilitate good practice", she said.

But Labour MP and Grenfell campaigner David Lammy branded her report "a betrayal and a whitewash".

The review's author, engineer Judith Hackitt, said a ban would not be sufficient because existing regulations already meant that unsafe cladding should not have been used.

"I don't know of any systems containing combustible materials that have passed that test".

Cladding fuelled the spread of the fire that killed 71 people in the west London block and a subsequent safety operation identified hundreds more buildings with similar set ups.

RIBA, the Royal Institute of British Architects, warned the government last month that the review would not deliver the necessary changes, adding that it wanted a full banning on cladding, a requirement for sprinklers to be fitted and the addition of a second escape route for high-rise residential buildings.

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The report comes a day after the United Kingdom government announced it would spend £400 million ($540 million) to remove risky cladding from tower blocks owned by councils and housing associations across the country.

The government promised on Wednesday to spend 400 million pounds ($540 million) on replacing unsafe cladding on public high-rise blocks, lessening the burden on cash-strapped local authorities.

Dame Judith, an engineer who chaired the Health and Safety Executive for almost a decade, told Today that she "absolutely recognised the level of concern and distress" felt by Grenfell survivors and residents of similar tower blocks around the country.

Of One Manchester's 17 blocks, 16 had ACM cladding, and 13 of those failed tests, leading to the start of a removal and replacement programme that started in January and will continue until next year. There are many other features, many other short cuts out there that could result in other disasters in the future which we need to address as part of this.

According to BBC News, Dame Judith's appointment to lead the review had been met with some criticism due to her former role as director of the Energy Saving Trust.

"What keeps us awake at night is knowing that there are schools, hospitals and homes that have this cladding on them. When they rewrite these regulations it must be by people who put safety first, and there must be consequences if these are not followed".

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