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Grenfell Tower-type disaster was predicted by BBC documentary in 1984

'There are blocks of flats that if action is not taken speedily will provide a major risk to the people who live in them in the future'

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 28 June 2017 10:22 BST
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Adam Curtis documentary in 1984 offers prescient warning of possibility of Grenfell

An Adam Curtis documentary predicted a Grenfell Tower-type disaster in 1984.

The BBC documentary, Inquiry: The Great British Housing Disaster, offered a prescient warning about the possible fire risk from placing cladding around tower blocks.

When asked by reporter David Jones whether the materials being fitted to blocks present a fire risk, one interviewee said: "Frankly, yes."

Pressed on whether he would be prepared to name them, he replied: "No."

So far, 79 people are known to have died in the Grenfell Tower fire, but authorities have consistently warned that number is likely to rise.

Nationwide fire safety operations have continued to grow, with 95 tower blocks across 32 English local authority areas so far identified with flammable cladding.

The 1984 documentary explains that many councils were "desperately trying to remedy the defects in their system-built housing stock so that their tenants can go on living in them."

It adds: "A new industry has sprung up offering methods of repairing the systems.

"Tower blocks hundreds of feet high are being completely reclad in new materials guaranteed to prevent rain reaching the joints."

Tense encounter between Grenfell residents and local Tory councillor on TV

A member of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities told the programme: "The only way that you can repair the present industrialised systems is by the use of other untried and untested remedial works and so we're actually finding that there are now actually systems of repair coming in to repair the systems-built dwellings in the first place.

"And we already have evidence of some of those repair systems failing because they have been inadequately researched and evaluated."

The residents of Grenfell Tower warned of safety problems in a 2016 blog post, writing that they believed the building posed a fire risk and "only a catastrophic event will expose" the issues.

Mr Curtis's 1984 documentary has an interview with the Director of Housing for Sheffield City Council, where he warns: "I do believe that there are blocks of flats that if action is not taken speedily will provide a major risk to the people who live in them in the future."

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