Insulation is to now be included in further tests on cladding from tower blocks, it was revealed yesterday, after one London borough’s leader criticised the Department for Communities & Local Government’s handling of the process.
In a letter, seen by LGC, sent to the communities secretary on Tuesday, Lambeth LBC leader Lib Peck (Lab) said she was “deeply concerned about the communication from the DCLG” in relation to the way aluminium composite material was being tested.
She urged Sajid Javid to “clarify the testing process regarding non-ACM cladding and, if there is no testing of non-ACM cladding, to reassure the public that non-ACM cladding is considered safe”.
LGC put Cllr Peck’s concerns to the DCLG but the department declined to comment.
Yesterday, an independent panel of experts recommended the cladding testing process be changed. The Building Research Establishment will now test three different types of ACM cladding combined with different types of insulation.
Local Government Association chair Lord Porter (Con) called for a rethink of the way cladding is tested last week, and asked for it to include insulation.
As a result he welcomed the expert panel’s “much-needed” recommendation to change the process. He said: “This new testing needs to be undertaken urgently.
“Councils worked speedily to send samples of ACM cladding for testing. These showed that only 10% of the 166 councils which own their housing stock have high-rise buildings with confirmed ACM cladding.
“But we have been clear all along that entire cladding panels and the insulation behind them need to be fire tested together as a system, rather than just the core of the panels on their own.”
Lord Porter said it is a “hugely difficult time for communities” but added “it is vital that we get this [testing] right”.
“The government needs to work with the LGA, councils and fire experts to decide how we collectively take action on the result of the new testing,” he said.