POLITICS

Labour Demands To Know Results Of Fire Safety Tests On Schools and Hospitals

Tests have been ordered but no results have been made public

27/06/2017 18:00 BST
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Cladding is removed from Hanover tower block in Sheffield, Yorkshire, after one element failed the new Government test.

Labour is demanding to know how many schools, hospitals and other buildings have been assessed for fire safety in the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze.

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey has written to Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid asking for more information about the safety of thousand of buildings.

The Government confirmed that each of the 95 tower blocks tested so far since the fire in Kensington two weeks ago had failed fire safety tests.

However, no information has been given regarding the results of tests on schools, hospitals and other public buildings, despite the Department of Education and NHS England ordering assessments to be carried out.

In the Commons on Monday, Javid said he would have “more information this week” on that work, but Healey wants answers as soon as possible.

In the letter, he writes: “A number of MPs raised concerns about the need to ensure the fire safety of other buildings, including schools, hospitals and sheltered housing.

“Can you provide an update of how many such buildings have been assessed so far, and by what date you and your colleagues across government expect to have completed these checks?” 

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Labour's John Healey.

Downing Street confirmed on Tuesday morning it would provide an update on the test results at some point in the future, but did not specify a date.

In the Commons on Monday, Javid said: “My department is working with the Government Property Unit to oversee checks on wider public sector buildings.

“Hospitals are well prepared – each one has a tailored fire safety plan.

“But nothing is more important than the safety of patients and staff, so on a precautionary basis we have asked all hospitals to conduct additional checks.

“The Government will continue to work closely with fire and rescue colleagues to prioritise and conduct checks based on local circumstances.

“The Education and Skills Funding Agency are contacting all bodies responsible for safety in schools instructing them to carry out immediate checks to identify any buildings which require further investigation.

“We will have more information this week.”

Healey’s letter also calls for more clarity over when the 377 households in “emergency accommodation” will be given a settled home.

The Prime Minister committed in the wake of the fire to get everybody affected a “home nearby” within three weeks, but this has since been changed to an “offer” of a home.

When Javid was asked about this in the Commons on Monday, he said ”some families want to take their time to make a decision on the temporary accommodation.”

He added: “We are working with them at their pace.

 “Our commitment is that they will all be made offers within the three weeks, although they will not all necessarily be in the temporary accommodation within that time. We have to respect their choice when they are made offers. If they change their minds, we want to accommodate that.” 

Theresa May has called for a “major national investigation” into tower block cladding after the number of high rises which failed fire safety tests rose to 95.

The Prime Minister urged the expansion of the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster as her Cabinet was told that samples of external material from every single high-rise building tested - including some private sector properties -had failed.

The PM’s official spokesman said that she wanted the cladding issue to form a possible “second phase” of the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower blaze on 14 June, which is feared to have killed at least 79 people.