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19.07.17

Councils join call for immediate review of building regulations after Grenfell fire

Councils have today joined other organisations in calling on the government to launch an “urgent and immediate” review of building regulations following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

It follows a number of safety organisations, including the British Safety Council and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, penning an open letter to the government this week to reconsider its position on health and safety regulations.

And now, the Local Government Association (LGA) has stated that a review of building regulations was needed urgently.

The group added that the government should not wait for the result of the public inquiry or for the coroner’s report before the review is started, but instead act based on the information that is already known so that preparations can be made to revisit building regulations.

“There is complexity and confusion in the current system that must be addressed and local government must play a central role in this review from the outset,” said Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA.

“The review needs to consider how easy it is to use, comply with and understand the building regulations and the associated documents supporting them, particularly those relating to the installation of cladding and insulation on external walls of buildings and how the building control, fire safety and planning regimes interact.”

Lord Porter also stated that councils will do whatever it takes to ensure residents are safe in their homes, and that the LGA had been clear all along that entire cladding panels and the insulation behind them needed to be fire tested together as a system, rather than just the core of the panels on their own.

“It is vital that we get this right and this whole-system testing needs to happen as soon as possible,” he explained.

The LGA boss added that there were concerns from the organisation that the Building Research Establishment (BRE) carrying out safety tests, did not feel able to release the results of previous cladding system tests, as these are deemed commercially confidential.

“If the public are going to have faith in this fire safety testing process then everything needs to be out in the open,” Lord Porter continued. “It is no time for contractors or manufacturers to withhold test results from both councils and the public.

“The industry and BRE needs to waive this confidentiality in the public interest to assist the government and councils in gathering as complete a picture as possible of what is and is not acceptable in cladding systems.

“These are exceptional circumstances when not only the safety of thousands of residents, but also the peace of mind of many more, is at stake.”

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