London councils turn heat on government over fire safety

With experts warning of test failure, the body representing London’s boroughs wants a more transparent process.


London Councils has turned the heat on Government over building fire safety tests deemed destined to fail.

The body representing all 32 London boroughs and the City of London the boroughs says expert warnings  of that failure are a loud wake up call to ministers.

Those warnings are borne out of concerns from fire safety experts that many of the 1,700 buildings identified as ‘at risk’ in England are likely to fail new tests into cladding and building materials.

The government said it will monitor the test results this summer to decide if any immediate action needs to be taken.

London Councils says the testing process must be more transparent.

“These warnings should serve as a wake-up call to ministers.

“London boroughs have worked extremely hard to make sure our residents are safe – and feel safe – in their homes.

“We urgently need far greater transparency from the government over the process of testing potentially unsafe materials,” said Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning.

“We want clarity over the precise timetable for testing and sharing results (and) it’s also crucial that the government confirms its plan for dealing with materials that fail the tests.

“London boroughs believe the government should commit to funding the remediation of all dangerous cladding systems.

“This is the only viable route to ensuring all buildings are made safe without further delay – it’s essential that ministers continue to work closely with councils in addressing these issues.”

The new tests, which began last month, are testing other types of cladding and building materials beyond those linked to Grenfell.

One type of cladding, known as High Pressure Laminate (HPL) is believed to be of particular concern with the Building Research Establishment saying none of the cladding systems that had passed a standard BS 8414 safety test included an HPL.

Another study, released in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, found that HPL cladding materials released heat 25 times faster and released 115 times more heat than non-combustible products.

The government says that it recognises concerns about HPL and included them in the new fire safety tests.

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