One June 14th in 2017, we witnessed the horrendous tragedy that was the Grenfell Tower fire. It claimed the lives of 72 people and sent over 70 to hospital. The country was in shock and mourning.
In the angry aftermath, we were promised that detailed investigations would reveal the causes and action would be taken to make sure buildings across the UK would have work done to make sure the cladding which contributed so much to the fire would be removed.
Last week this tweet from The Sun’s Deputy Political Editor revealed the dire progress of that action:
Attempt to hide figures
Just before each term of Parliament ends, Government tends to release bad news in what is known as a “dump”. Its a way to release bad stats and information, in the hopes it will get little press attention.
Thankfully, it didn’t go unnoticed, and we know now that 1700 incredibly important buildings remain with the same type of cladding that was on Grenfell Tower. We are now over two years after the tragedy, and despite promises that the dangerous materials would be removed, clearly they have not. It means that there is still way too high a chance that another Grenfell-style tragedy could happen. Its a shameful state of affairs.
The fact that this information was hidden away in the summer “dump” before Parliament breaks up only pours salt in the wounds. They knew this wouldn’t go down well, and for good reason.
My guess at the hold up for removing the offending materials is down to money, as most things are in this world. Who is going to foot the bill for replacing the bad building materials on all of these structures?
Simply, this should not be about money. When the safety of people are involved in such a dangerous situation, money matters should not be playing a part in this. Government should be leading from the front, footing the bill if they have to, to make sure it’s public are living and working in the safe environments they deserve.
The fact that there are 1700 buildings with Grenfell-style cladding still to be renovated is astounding to me. Has the pain and anger of that day in 2017 already been forgotten?
What we also need to be looking at are the rules and testing which allowed these materials to come to market in the first place. Its worth remembering that the fire door industry has been embroiled in the aftermath of this tragedy as it was discovered that the doors on the tower failed to meet minimum standards, and that tens of thousands of these doors likely remain in use right now.
How did these materials pass the various tests and get to market? Were there gaps in the testing? Are the rules and regs too lax? We have to look at the processes in place which allowed companies to be able to fit these failed materials to people’s homes and places of work.
Until that happens, industry must shake itself down and take responsibility for the work they carry out and the products they install. That goes for our industry as well as wider construction. I wrote about something similar when it came to our industry taking responsibility for itself when it came to helping to reduce crime and focus on making our products as secure as possible. We’re at the sharp end, so to speak, which means we’re best placed to ensure that what our industry installs is as beneficial and safe for the home owner as possible.
Hopefully, with a new Prime Minister being announced this week, there will be a renewed effort to make safe the 1700 buildings with unsafe cladding products.
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