Residential tower blocks in Croydon have had cladding work carried out by the same company which undertook the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower in Kensington, the BBC is reporting tonight.
At least 17 people are known to have lost their lives in the conflagration which began on the 4th floor of the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Emergency services are expected to undertake a grim search of the gutted shell of the building tomorrow for the remains of others; some fear the death toll could eventually reach three figures.
Croydon Council has refused to state which residential tower blocks in the borough have been subject to such work, nor whether cladding similar to the aluminium-based building materials used on Grenfell had been used in Croydon.
But senior Town Hall sources have confirmed to Inside Croydon that council-owned blocks in New Addington, South Norwood and Waddon have had cladding work carried out at some stage in the past decade. “Each block cost the council around £2million,” the source said, though they were unable to confirm what building materials had been used, nor whether the contractor was Rydon, the company which signed off on Grenfell Tower last year.
The Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced today a public inquiry into the disaster.
As yet, it is too soon to say what caused the Grenfell fire, nor why it spread so rapidly and vigorously up the building, though fire safety experts have highlighted the lack of any retro-fitted sprinkler system in the block, while gaps behind the cladding are thought may have created a chimney effect, drawing the flames upwards. The material used in the cladding has also been suggested not to have been fire-retardant.
Rydon Maintenance Ltd have carried out maintenance work on residential tower blocks across the capital for 40 years, including, according to BBC London tonight, in Croydon, as well as Westminster, Barnet, Redbridge and Newham.
The Sussex-based company issued a statement today in which they said that their work at Grenfell “met all required building regulations – as well as fire regulation and health and safety standards – and handover took place when the completion notice was issued by Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea building control”.
Croydon Council has so far refused to say which of its residential blocks may have had cladding work carried out.
It was not until after 5pm today that Croydon Council got round to issuing any form of formal statement on the situation in Kensington and the borough’s own residential tower blocks.
Inside Croydon this morning published an email from Alison Butler, the council’s deputy leader, which had been sent to her Labour group colleagues. Opposition Tory councillors say that they were not sent the email. In that email, Butler confirmed that none of Croydon Council’s housing stock is taller than 12 storeys, and that “all Croydon Council housing blocks meet rigorous safety standards set down by the London Fire Brigade”.
Butler said that “Immediately the tragic events at Grenfell Tower became known, we looked at our own stock. We are currently making checks on all of our blocks with external cladding and looking at the implications as well as carrying out a full review of fire safety.”
This evening, the council finally got round to issuing some information to its residents via its own website.
Attributing the remarks to Butler, the council site said, “On behalf of the people of Croydon we want to offer our deepest sympathies to all those affected by the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower. Unfortunately the number of casualties is likely to rise and we know that the consequences will be felt for many years to come.
“We would like to put on record our thanks to all Croydon fire service colleagues who joined the heroic London-wide effort to tackle the blaze and save people’s lives.
“We would like to reassure tenants and residents that we are working closely with London Fire Brigade to make sure that all council housing stock continues to meet fire safety standards. As a result of this week’s fire in Kensington we have also launched a further full review of all our housing blocks. This will involve independent testing, both external and internal, and safety checks.”
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