Grenfell Tower response: 34 high-rise blocks fail fire safety tests amid fears for cladding

Tally rises from 27 as hospitals and others test their buildings

May Bulman,Jon Sharman
Saturday 24 June 2017 21:43
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A view of Grenfell Tower, north Kensington, following last week's devastating fire
A view of Grenfell Tower, north Kensington, following last week's devastating fire

Thirty-four high-rise blocks of flats in 17 local authority areas have failed fire cladding safety tests in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, the Government has said.

The announcement came after the evacuation of around 3,000 residents of the Chalcots Estate in Camden, north London, who now face weeks in temporary accommodation after concerns were raised over the safety of the blocks.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said testing of potentially combustible cladding “is running around the clock”.

“So far the cladding from 34 high-rise buildings, in 17 local authority areas, has failed the combustibility test,” he added.

Previously 27 blocks in 15 council areas had been flagged as potentially at risk.

It is thought thousands of people could be evacuated from high-rise buildings across the country, as in Camden, as more tests are carried out.

Jeremy Corbyn said the growing scale of the threat demanded coordinated national action including a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee.

The Liberal Democrats called for a “civil emergency” to be declared and a fund created to compensate those forced to leave their homes.

Manchester, Camden, Plymouth, Hounslow, Portsmouth, Barnet and Brent were named as having buildings that had failed tests by Mr Javid.

But in the statement he stressed “cladding itself is not dangerous” and that a failure in testing does not necessarily mean a building will be evacuated.

“The decision by Camden Council to evacuate four of the five towers on the Chalcots Estate was because the failed testing of the external cladding was compounded by multiple other fire safety failures which the fire inspection team found within the buildings,” he said.

Mr Javid praised the “calm and stoicism” residents showed when asked to leave their homes at short notice on Friday, in what he called a “distressing experience”.

Additional reporting by agencies

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