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Cladding on 120 UK residential tower blocks fails fire safety tests

Cladding samples from 120 UK apartment tower blocks in 37 council areas have failed fire safety tests ordered in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons on Wednesday, June 28.

To date, 100 percent of the construction samples have failed combustibility tests.

“Given the 100% failure rate, we are very clear with local authorities and housing associations that they should not wait for test results they should get on with the job of the fire safety checks and indeed they are doing that and they should take any action necessary and the government will support them in doing that.”

UK Prime Minister Theresa May

May made the announcement during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session in Parliament. She confirmed that 282 “good quality” temporary housing structures have been identified for people displaced by the Grenfell fire. So far, temporary accommodations have been offered to 65 families, she said.

At least 79 people died in the June 14 fire in West London.

Cladding regulations

In addition to hundreds of residential tower blocks, tests will also be carried out on schools and hospitals.

The Guardian reported on Tuesday that the National Health Service identified as many as 30 hospital trusts in England with similar cladding, and nine at greatest risk will receive support from the NHS regulator.

Police have already begun a criminal investigation, and Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said on June 19 that they will consider “all criminal offenses that may have been committed by any individual.”

Rydon, the construction firm that refurbished Grenfell Tower last year, said it met all building control, fire regulation and health and safety standards, but concerns have been raised over the use of the cladding on hundreds of high-rise residential buildings.

During PMQ on Wednesday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn questioned the legality of using cladding with “a combustable core such as polyethylene.”

May responded: “The situation is, in relation to the cladding, that the building regulations identify the cladding that is compatible with the building regulations, and that which is non-compliant with those building regulations.”

The cladding used in Grenfell was not compliant with the building regulations, she added.

“But there is a much wider issue here. As we have seen from the number of buildings where the cladding has failed the combustibility test, from those samples that have been sent in already from local authorities and housing associations, this is a much wider issue, it’s an issue which has been continuing for many years, for decades in terms of cladding being put up in buildings.”

May continued: “In addition to the inquiry that needs to identify the specific issues for Grenfell Tower … we will also need to look much more widely at why it is that over decades under different governments, under different councils, material has been put up on these tower blocks that is non-compliant with building regulations.”

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