New move to allay flat safety concerns

A block of flats in Scholes
A block of flats in Scholes

Wigan housing chiefs have issued further reassurances to occupants of the borough’s high rises after three tower blocks down the road in Salford failed fire safety tests.

The flammability of materials used to cover residential buildings is continuing a pace in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower catastrophe earlier this month that claimed at least 79 lives.

Wigan Council had already issued a statement soon after the inferno saying that the cladding currently being put onto the flats in Scholes is not of the type used in Kensington.

But with tiles currently been torn from three blocks in Salford, other high rises failing tests and even being evacuated around the country, the authority said: “As we are currently going through refurbishment of our cladding we know what we have had and what it is being replaced with – both of which aren’t like the cladding used in Grenfell.

“The six blocks in Scholes with external cladding have a system with phenolic foam as the insulation material, (one block, Douglas House, has some elevations with a previous applied render system which has been overclad with phenolic foam based system).

“However, due to defects with the phenolic foam leading to the build-up of algae, all six blocks are having the system replaced at the moment, replacing all previous cladding/insulation and replacing is with a mineral wool insulation system. Three blocks have received the new mineral wool insulation system.”

But around the country, every cladding sample tested so far has failed fire safety tests, amounting to 60 high-rise buildings in 25 council areas, the Government said.

Amid signs the problem could escalate further, Housing Minister Alok Sharma called for samples to be submitted for examination quickly. He pushed for councils and landlords to take steps towards making buildings in their care safe, even if results had not come back yet. “Certainly, some councils are acting very quickly. We want all of them to be acting urgently on this.”