News

14.08.17

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Source: PSE Aug/Sep 17

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the open — and this needs to happen as soon as possible.

The fire at Grenfell Tower has been an unimaginable tragedy and it continues to be a hugely difficult time for communities. 

Councils are clear that no one living in a high-rise block should have to live in fear about their safety. 

Around 10% of the 166 councils which own their housing stock have high-rise buildings with confirmed ACM cladding. They have worked hard to take steps to reassure residents about safety: from speedily sending samples of ACM cladding for testing, carrying out fire safety checks, implementing precautionary measures where necessary and reviewing or replacing cladding materials on those blocks. 

Councils will continue to get on with what they need to do to ensure people are safe in their homes. This includes replacing materials on high-rise blocks affected by fire safety tests. 

The government must commit to meet the full cost to councils of removing and replacing cladding and insulation systems. 

It is also imperative that this testing process moves quickly to identify what landlords should be replacing these systems with as soon as possible. 

The Building Research Establishment and the industry also must urgently release results of previous safety tests, including desktop studies. 

If the public are going to have faith in this testing process then everything must be out in the open, and this needs to happen as soon as possible.

Complexity and confusion 

With these latest test fails affecting buildings owned by a range of different landlords across the country, it is clear that the tragedy at Grenfell Tower has clearly exposed a systemic failure of the current system of building regulation. 

We are pleased the government accepted our call for an immediate review of 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. 

The review announced by the government 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. 

Local government stands ready to – and must – play a central role in this review from the outset. In the meantime, councils will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure our residents are all safe in their homes.

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