Grenfell Tower: 'Government wasted opportunity to make tower block cladding safe for years'

Grenfell Tower: 'Government ducked creating good building regulation system for years'

The cladding used on Grenfell Tower has been a central focus of the analysis of the tragedy

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Government wasted opportunities to guarantee fire safety in public tower blocks for years before the Grenfell Tower disaster, according to a social housing commentator.

Phil Morgan told Mike Graham and Katie Perrior that the issue was central to the Lakanal House disaster in Southwark, back in 2008, when a fire ripped through a tower block in a chilling echo of Grenfell.

The Lakanal tragedy, which left six people dead, led to a public inquiry, which focused heavily on cladding and fire safety. According to Morgan, "the Government had opportunities following [that inquiry] to simplify a system of building regulations to make it absolutely clear what was acceptable and what wasn’t."

Instead, he said, "they ducked [the issue], they carried on ducking it until last year."

Only three tower blocks with the same cladding as that used on Grenfell Tower have had it replaced, despite 299 out of 312 buildings failing fire tests following the disaster in June last year.

Morgan said progress will "continue to be slow" as "there aren't quick and easy answers." 

However "the marginally good news is that responsible landlords are spending time with their tenants sorting out mitigation, sorting out fire regulation works and alarms, putting in place fire wardens where there is that risk and having good communication with their tenants."

Listen to the full interview above