UK

Cladding Fears Spark Anger As Residents Grow Frustrated High-Rises Could Be Covered In Grenfell Tower Material

'I live in a tower block and and there is no way I would stay in my flat'.

22/06/2017 15:56 BST | Updated 22/06/2017 17:46 BST

Residents living in high-rise towers are growing increasingly concerned and frustrated that their homes could be covered in cladding similar to the one used on Grenfell Tower.

The Prime Minister has announced that tests on tower blocks following last Wednesday’s devastating fire have shown a number are “combustible”.

It comes as councils in England estimated that 600 high-rise buildings have cladding of some kind.

PA Wire/PA Images
Residents living in high-rise towers are growing increasingly concerned their homes could be covered in cladding similar to the one used on Grenfell Tower.

The government retracted a statement made earlier today that 600 buildings are covered in “similar” cladding to that used at Grenfell.

On Thursday Camden Council began removing cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower from several blocks in the borough.

Outer cladding panels on five blocks in the borough were made up of aluminium panels with a polyethylene core – the kind which is believed to have helped spread the Grenfell blaze across its 24 storeys - the council said on Thursday. 

Roydon, the company behind the Grenfell refurbishments, also oversaw the work in Camden.

Samuel Mensah who lives on the 16th floor of the Burnham Tower told HuffPost UK the news that the cladding must be removed from his building is “very scary”.

The 53-year-old said: “When I’m inside, I’m not comfortable after what happened with those poor people at Grenfell.”

“When the panels are off then I’ll feel safe, it’s scary I can’t sleep deeply.”

Chantal Peters, who lives on the 16th floor of the Dorney block with four of her six children, condemned the building she has called home for 22 years as a major fire risk. 

HuffPost UK
Chantal Peters has lived in the block for 22 years and says she doesn’t feel safe 

The 38-year-old claimed that the building has no fire alarms, sprinklers and “there is no safety advice”.

She told HuffPost UK: “If there was to be a fire, I wouldn’t be able to get out of my house. There’s no fire alarm, there’s no sprinklers – there’s nothing to alert us.

“The only safety [advice] I give to people in my block is if there was a fire, you put your taps on. Your bath tap and the sink and the kitchen and you flood your house. That’s my advice to give to my neighbours. I feel scared for my kids. I don’t feel safe. I haven’t felt safe for years.

“We’ve got one exit and that’s the stairwell. Imagine if all of us came down one stairwell, with kids and people who are disabled… how are they going to get out? You’ve got elderly people up there… There’s an old guy up there on the top floor, how’s he getting out? He’s deaf in both ears, how is he going to know anything?

“There’s no fire alarms to say there’s a fire. We’ve got to look out the window to see the fire engines, to see what’s going on or smell some smoke.

“Why did they put this cladding up in the first place? It’s disgusting.” 

When asked about Peters’ claims, Camden Council today said it was unable to confirm if Chalcots Estate has fire alarms or sprinklers, but a spokesperson said it was in the process of checking and that the estate had passed all its fire safety checks.  

PA Wire/PA Images
A general view of Rivers Apartments in Tottenham, North London, where a review is being carried out on the cladding after the Grenfell Tower fire last week.

Meanwhile, residents at Rivers Apartments, a 22-storey block of flats in Tottenham, have spoken of their safety fears after it emerged they were reportedly living in a building surrounded with the same kind of cladding used on Grenfell Tower.

One resident told the BBC: “If this didn’t happen with therefore in Grenfell, what would have happened? We would have been living here and, unknowingly we are not safe. 

“I am very disappointed. These things should have been checked out before having people move in.”

BBC
A residents at Rivers Apartments have spoken of their safety fears at their Tottenham block of flats.

Unlike Grenfell, Rivers Apartments does contain modern safety features, such as sprinklers.  

Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, said he has spoken to the leadership of Newlon and demanded it be removed.

He said in a statement to HuffPost UK: “I have spoken to the leadership of Newlon and demanded that this cladding is replaced immediately.

“Newlon need to make sure that my constituents are safe in their homes and if this involves decanting them whilst refurbishment takes place, Newlon must foot the bill for this.

“I have received assurances that no other tower blocks in Tottenham have this cladding, and the council leadership will be speaking to tower block residents at a public meeting I have organised on Monday”.

Fears are growing across the country that people may not be living in safe accommodation.

Residents and politicians have been speculating for days whether their tower blocks are actually safe and have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns.

London Fire Brigade said it is set to carry out safety checks on tower blocks following Theresa May’s announcement this morning.

A spokesperson from the LFB said in a statement: “The government asked for local authorities and other registered providers of social housing to identify whether any panels used on new or refurbished buildings were of a particular type of cladding made of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM).

“In London, the local authorities where these ACM panels have been identified are being contacted and asked to take action.

“Alongside this work, London Fire Brigade crews will visit the premises identified to check the fire safety of the building and make sure that in the event of a fire, firefighting facilities are all in place.

“The brigade will also programme more in-depth inspections as part of an on-going process.”

Firefighters will also give advice to the housing provider on any immediate actions that need to be taken.