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Porter joins calls for rethink of cladding tests

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The chair of the Local Government Association has urged the government to stop the current round of cladding tests as they are not testing panels as a whole.

Lord Porter (Con) has also warned councils will only be reimbursed in “exceptional” circumstances for costs associated with carrying out fire safety improvements in high rise buildings.

Yesterday the Department for Communities & Local Government said samples from 137 towers in 41 areas have failed tests.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Lord Porter said: “We can’t be certain that what we know now is any better than what we knew two weeks ago.”

Lord Porter, who was speaking publicly about the Grenfell Tower fire for the first time since the disaster more than two weeks ago, said the tests “are not testing the fire safety of the panels, they are testing what the core of the panel is made from”. He added: “That’s not what the tests need to be.”

Lord Porter said the insulation should be tested as well.

“There’s more than a good chance it’s the insulation that’s the main problem if it’s the wrong type of insulation,” he said.

While the testing advised by the government’s panel of experts “may well be right, we can’t have confidence in that” due to fact every sample tested so far has failed, Lord Porter said.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, has also called on the government to halt the testing process.

Meanwhile, Lord Porter said the government had committed to fund the cost of councils carrying out a fire report on their buildings if one is needed and added: “If there is any exceptional new things that need to be done then that will be paid for [as well].”

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