Tower blocks in two more council areas will have cladding removed after tests revealed they contained combustible material.
In a letter sent to MPs last night communties secretary Sajid Javid said cladding posing a potential fire risk has so far been found on eleven high-rise housing blocks in eight council areas. He said tests were ongoing on a “number” of other buildings covered in potentially combustible cladding.
Yesterday, government spokespeople suggested up to 600 blocks may have Glenfell style cladding however it has since been clarified that there are actaully 600 tower blocks that are covered in cladding of any kind.
Mr Javid confirmed three of the eleven areas - Camden LBC and Manchester and Plymouth city councils – but said he would not name other areas as councils were still in the process of informing residents.
LGC reported yesterday that Camden LBC had started removing cladding from five towers on its Chalcots Estate after laboratory tests found it was made of similar materials to the ones on Grenfell Tower.
In a statement Manchester City Council said tests of cladding at the Village 135 development in Wythenshawe, which consists of 66 flats, had been shown to be made of a similar material to that used on Grenfell Tower.
The Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, which manages the building, said it would remove the cladding as soon as possible.
Manchester executive member for housing and regeneration Bernard Priest said every social landlord in the city was reviewing safety at tower blocks and urged private landlords to do the same.
Three tower blocks on the Mount Wise Towers in Plymouth were found to have been covered with cladding containing aluminium coating with the lowest safety rating.
The blocks are managed by Plymouth Community Homes. Chief executive John Clark said the cladding was not the same as that used at Grenfell Tower but added that the combustible elements would be removed as soon as possible “in the light of new information and guidance”.
Mr Javid said where the form of aluminium composite material used on the cladding installed at Grenfell Tower is found, samples are being tested by the Building Research Establishment within hours, Mr Javid said.
He said the Department for Communities and Local Government “stands ready to work with local authorities to ensure they can meet their obligations to provide safety for their tenants.”
“We cannot and will not ask people to live in unsafe homes,” he said.
Today police said the Grenfell Tower fire had started in a fridge freezer and the outside cladding, as well as insultation on the building, had failed safety tests. A total of 79 people are feared dead after the blaze.
Meanwhile Birmingham City Council has confirmed that all the 213 tower blocks it owns will be fitted with sprinkler systems following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
Leader John Clancy (Lab) said he is prepared to find an estimated £31m to retro-fit measures to reduce fire risk and was considering using cash raised from selling council assets.
He also called for the country’s major cities to lobby central government to help fund fire safety measures in all council-owned tower blocks.
Cllr Clancy has written to the leaders of councils in the Core Cities group to request support.
He added that the cost of ensuring all citizens have the best possible fire protection “is certain to be substantial and beyond the means of austerity-hit councils to afford in a timely fashion”.
Meanwhile, the Department for Work and Pensions has said that Grenfell Tower residents being placed in new permanent accommodation could be subject to the spare room subsidy or ‘bedroom tax’.
The guidance says that in these circumstances discretionary housing payments to meet rent shortfalls “should be treated as a priority.”