Combustible cladding: MPs call for complete ban
Government plans to ban the use of combustible cladding in new high-rise buildings do not go far enough, a cross-party group of MPs has warned.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government parliamentary committee has called for the proposed ban to be extended to existing buildings, residential homes, hospitals and hotels.
A report published by the committee yesterday (18 July) also concludes that sprinklers should be fitted to all tower blocks to provide an “extra layer of safety” and the Government fund the installation in any council or housing association-owned buildings.
The report also warns of conflicts of interest within the building and safety sector, with Fire Rescue Authorities inspecting the work of their own commercial trading arms, builders appointing their own inspectors and companies influencing fire safety guidance.
In May, the Housing Secretary James Brokenshire announced the Government will launch a consultation on banning combustible cladding in tower blocks, following the publication of Dame Judith Hackitt’s final report on building standards and safety.
Speaking to SHP last week, Dame Hackitt defended her position not to recommend an explicit ban, saying that it was not part of her initial remit.
“We welcome the intention of the Government to ban combustible cladding, but the proposals do not go far enough,” said Committee Chair, Clive Betts.
“A ban on dangerous cladding must be extended beyond new high-rise constructions, to existing residential buildings as well as other high-risk buildings.
“The industry is riven with conflicts of interest at every turn, with manufacturers choosing the most lenient testing bodies for their products,” added Mr Betts.
“It just cannot be right that builders get to choose who marks their homework and urgent action is needed to make sure this does not continue. Fire Rescue Authorities should not be able to pass judgement on the work of their own commercial trading arms.
“The current complicated web of building regulations is compromising safety and putting people at risk in their own homes. It desperately needs both simplifying and strengthening and the Government must act now before more lives are lost.”
Responding to the committee report, the chair of the Local Government Association, Lord Porter, said there is “increasing evidence that the BS8414 test – which tests the fire performance of external cladding and insulation systems – cannot be relied upon”.
“The evidence from real fires in real tower blocks shows that using combustible materials on the external walls of high-rise buildings kills people,” added Lord Porter.
“We continue to strongly urge the Government to ban the use of any combustible materials – including cladding panels, insulation and other materials – on the external walls of high-rise and high-risk buildings.”
To read a summary of the committee’s report, click here.
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