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‘Betrayal and a whitewash’: Report into Grenfell Tower blaze falls short of banning combustible cladding


A review into the Grenfell Tower blaze has ruled out an outright ban on combustible cladding and desktop studies, branding the focus on cladding systems as siloed thinking.

The report, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, finds that poor oversight in the building industryled to a race to the bottom, but fell short of recommending an outright prohibition on materials similar to those which appeared to spread the fatal fire almost a year ago.

The decision defiescalls fromthe Royal Institute of British Architects, politicians and survivors of the blaze, who have all urgedthe government to ban construction materials that burn.

Dame Judith also failed to ban desktop studies, which allow materials to be tested without setting them on fire, despite calls for the practice to be stopped by campaigners.

The decision has been met with condemnation, with Labour MP David Lammy branding it a betrayal and a whitewash and local councils saying it is disappointing.

Speaking on the Today Programme just prior to the reports publication, Dame Judithsaid she recognised the concerns among survivors, but said cladding was just one issue, and that preventing similar disasters in future would require a whole system change.

The report notes that ignorance and indifference from building contractors were to blame for the deep flaws in the current system, as some undertaking building work are using the ambiguity of regulations and guidance to game the system.

But ruling out an outright ban on dangerous cladding, it states: This is most definitely not just a question of the the specification of cladding systems but of an industry that has not reflected and learned for itself, nor looked to other sectors. This does not mean all buildings are unsafe.

Dame Judith added: The debate continues to run about whether or not aluminium cladding is used for thermal insulation, weatherproofing or as an integral part of the fabric, fire safety and integrity of the building. This illustrates the siloed thinking that is part of the problem we mist address.

It is clear that in this type of debate the basic intent of fire safety has been lost.

Labour MP David Lammy branded the review as a betrayal and a whitewash, saying: It is unthinkable and unacceptable that so many people can die in a disaster like Grenfell and one year on flammable cladding has not been banned.

The Grenfell families and the public needed a review that was fearless in standing up to the industry on behalf of all those who lost their lives in Grenfell with recommendations that ensure that an atrocity like Grenfell can never happen again.

I simply fail to see how it is deemed appropriate for any combustible material to be used on any tower block in this country and I find it unfathomable that this review has not recommended an outright ban of combustible material.

Making a serious of recommendations for buildings of 10 stories or more, the review states that product testing must be made more transparent, with onus on manufacturers to make it clear where their materials can be used safely.

Under current systems, manufacturers do not need to declare if their products have failed safety checks before they successfully pass, Dame Judith said. She recommended manufacturers should test materials that are critical to high-rise safety every three years.

The report recommends creating a dutyholder who has the fire safety responsibility for each high-rise building, as well as greater engagement with residents to ensure their voices are heard.

It also states that a new Joint Competent Authority should be made up of fire authorities, building standard and health and safety officials, which would oversee and have powers to intervene when concerned about safety issues.



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