British government admits minimal fire safety standards for Grenfell Tower

June 22, 2017 10:30 pm

A woman with a placard that reads “Grenfell victims of Tory politics” marches with other demonstrators through London on June 21, 2017 en route to Parliament Square during an anti-government protest following the deadly fire at Grenfell Tower. (Photo by AFP)

The British government has admitted that hundreds of buildings in England have cladding similar to the Grenfell Tower block that was engulfed by a deadly blaze last week.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said that approximately 600 high rise buildings bear similar revetment, three of which have so far tested positive as combustible.
“We are in touch with all the local authorities to encourage them to urgently send us the samples and then we will carry out the checks that we need to see where we are with that,” the spokeswoman said on Thursday.
She added, “Obviously nobody will be living in buildings that are unsafe. They will be rehoused if they need to be and landlords will be asked to provide alternative accommodation where that’s possible.”
Downing Street is under harsh criticism for minimal fire safety standards and failure in curbing the Grenfell tower blaze.

The cladding on the 24-story Grenfell Tower block in London has been widely blamed for the quick spread of the flames in the 120-apartment building. (Photo by AFP)

May faced overwhelming pressure after it was revealed that Gavin Barwell, the former housing minister who was recently appointed as the prime minister’s adviser, had failed to OK a fire safety review request he had received.
The Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council, which own the tower, has been accused of using a banned cladding material during the £8.6m refurbishment of the tower. The material has been blamed for the fire’s quick spread to all floors.
Nicholas Holgate, Council chief of Kensington and Chelsea, stepped down on Wednesday after coming under fire for the borough’s handling of the last week blaze.
In a statement, Holgate said the deadly fire was “heart-breaking” but he had to resign to avoid causing a “distraction.”
“Despite my wish to have continued, in very challenging circumstances, to lead on the executive responsibilities of the council, I have decided that it is better to step down from my role, once an appropriate successor has been appointed,” said Holgate, who took on the job in 2014.
Premier May has apologized for shortcomings in the response to the tragedy and pledged to provide more support for the victims. At least 79 people were killed in the incident.
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