Downing Street reveals 600 high rise flats have similar cladding to Grenfell Tower
4 min read
Around 600 other high-rise tower blocks may have similar cladding to that installed at Grenfell Tower, it has been revealed.
Downing Street said the shock figure had come from initial estimates provided by local authorities across England.
Number 10 also confirmed that samples from three tower blocks had so far been found to be combustible.
She said the Government would work with local authorities to take “all possible steps” to make affected properties safe.
Experts believe that that the devastating nature of the Grenfell Tower blaze - which has so far claimed the lives of 79 people - may have been caused by the cladding on the outside of the building.
In a statement in the Commons this morning, Mrs May said: “The House should, of course, be careful on speculating what caused this fire but as a precaution the Government has arranged to test cladding in all relevant tower blocks.
“Shortly before I came to the chamber I was informed that a number of these tests have come back as combustible.
“The relevant local authorities and local fire services have been informed and, as I speak, they are taking all possible steps to ensure buildings are safe and to inform affected residents.”
At a briefing for journalists, a Number 10 spokeswoman said: "So far three samples have been found to be combustible. The testing facilities that are set up can test up to 100 samples a day.
"In terms of how many homes have this type of cladding, estimates provided to us by councils is that there are approximately 600 high rise buildings with similar cladding (to Grenfell Tower).
"We're in touch with all of 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 insisted that landlords and local authorities will be expected to find alternative accommodation for anyone found to be living in unsafe properties.
The Prime Minister has apologised to the families affected by the blaze for the immediate response by the local council and central government.
There will also be a public inquiry into the tragedy, to be chaired by a leading judge.
The Metropolitan Police has opened criminal investigations into the fire, and Mrs May warned today: “For any guilty parties there will be nowhere to hide.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the blaze was “both a tragedy and an outrage”.
He argued there was a pattern running through Grenfell to Hillsborough and the child abuse scandal, saying: “Working class people’s voices are ignored, their concerns dismissed by those in power.”
He also questioned why “the political leaders” of Kensington and Chelsea Council were not resigning after the incident, following the departure of the authority’s chief executive late last night.
Mrs May refused to be drawn on the future of Kensington and Chelsea Council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown, saying his resignation was a matter for the “appropriate group” on the council.
But she said it was “right” that the chief executive of the council had quit.
The Prime Minister said the fire should act as a wake-up call to those in power to pay more attention to those living in poverty.
“We simply haven’t given enough attention to social housing and this itself is a symptom of an even more fundamental issue,” she said.
“It shouldn’t take a disaster of this kind to remember that there are people in Britain today living lives that are so far removed from those that many here in Westminster enjoy; that in this tower just a few miles from the Houses of Parliament and in the heart of our great city people live a fundamentally different life, do not feel the state works for them and are therefore mistrustful of it.
“So, long after the TV cameras have gone and the world has moved on, let the legacy of this awful tragedy be to resolve never to forget these and instead to gear our policies and our thinking towards making their lives better and bringing them into the political process.”
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