Grenfell Tower cladding: Claims fire-resistance would have cost just £5,000


Anger is growing over claims a series of safety failings led to the Grenfell Tower disaster after it emerged contractors could have spent just £5,000 more on fire-resistant cladding.

A “Justice for Grenfell” rally is set to take place in Westminster on Friday evening, while numerous distraught residents have demanded answers from politicians over the blaze that killed at least 17 people on Wednesday.

It comes amid claims contractors used the cheapest aluminium coated panels, which are reportedly outlawed in the United States over safety fears, as part of an £10m regeneration of the tower block last year.

The panels, known as Reynobond, were allegedly the only ones available to contractors that were not fire-resistant.  

Reynobond sells fire-resistant panels for £24 per square metre, a £2 increase on the standard version.

A salesman for the US-based company has since told The Times that the version used on Grenfell, referred to as PE, was banned in American buildings taller than 40ft over fire safety reasons.

He said: “It’s because of the fire and smoke spread. The FR (variant) is fire-resistant. The PE is just plastic.”

The revelations were met with fury among residents of the Lancaster West estate.

Anab Hussein lives in an adjacent tower block. “Everything they do is the cheapest of the cheapest,” she told the Standard.

“I am the same as those people, I live in the apartment and have kids. It could easily have been us. “They came and refurbished my flat a few years ago and did everything as cheap as possible.

“So many lives have been lost and it’s for what – £2? We are talking about so many people dying for just £2 – it’s shameful. This could have been stopped. People want answers.”

Social worker Lorna Novana – whose son attends the nearby Spanish school – said she is “dismayed” by the horrific events of this week.

“There are parts of this borough that are very rich – I know they have the money to spend,” she said.

“It could have been prevented. And I do think there is some truth in the belief that this wouldn’t have happened in the richer areas. 

“Council officers could have stopped this but it takes for something horrible to happen for them to start walking around in suits and with briefcases looking official.

Sadiq Khan heckled during visit to Grenfell Tower

“A lot of people need to be held accountable for this.”

A criminal investigation has since been launched into the blaze at Grenfell Tower, while Prime Minister Theresa May has launched a public inquiry.

Labour MP David Lammy has branded the Grenfell Tower blaze “corporate manslaughter” and called for arrests amid fears the number of people killed could rise to triple figures.

He posted on Twitter: “This was not a tragedy, it was a crime. Corporate manslaughter. We need arrests and a trial, not more reviews.”

Residents organising a rally outside Westminster have said they “deserve and demand” answers.

 

In a chilling blog post written just seven months before the tragedy, the Grenfell Action Group said “only a catastrophic event”, would make residents’ concerns over fire safety heard.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said during a visit to refuge centres on Thursday that “the truth has got to come out” following the devastating blaze.

Jeremy Corbyn: “Some very hard questions must be answered” following Grenfell Tower fire

Residents of the Lancaster West estate told the Standard on Thursday they felt ignored because officials “don’t care” about working class people.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This community deserves answers – and quickly. We cannot wait years for the outcome of an inquiry.

“People deserve to know as soon as possible that other similar blocks are not at risk of this happening elsewhere.”

Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid, who is expected to visit the site on Friday, tried to reassure people living in similar high-rises who fear they may be at risk. 

He told BBC Breakfast: “There are about 4,000 high-rise buildings in the country but not all of them have been re-cladded but also let’s not just make the assumption that it is all about cladding.

“We need to be led by the experts and as soon as we have more information from the experts, which we expect either later today or certainly over the weekend that is what I think should be used to do these emergency inspections.”

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Source : http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/fury-over-claims-fireresistant-cladding-for-grenfell-tower-would-have-cost-just-5000-a3566476.html

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