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149 high-rise buildings in Britain have failed fire safety tests since the blaze at Grenfell Tower

Earlier, Kensington Council said a meeting regarding the disaster had to be adjourned as the presence of the press could prejudice a public inquiry into the blaze.

Tower block fire in London A person holds a placard outside Kensington Town Hall, where the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea adjourned a planned cabinet meeting after press were allowed to attend. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated 16.30

JUST UNDER 150 high-rise buildings in Britain have failed fire-safety inspections since the catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower in west London 16 days ago.

The figure was released this afternoon by a spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May, who has found herself caught up in a political furore since the horrific blaze which killed at least 80 people.

The failure rate following the inspections is currently 100%.

“So far the cladding from 149 high rise buildings in 45 local authority areas have failed the tests,” the spokesperson said.

That continues to be a 100% test failure rate.

They added that it was Theresa May’s view that Kensington and Chelsea Council should have “respected” a UK High Court ruling that the press and public be allowed access to a council meeting called to discuss the tragedy.

The decision by the council to abandon the meeting was earlier described as “madness” by the London mayor.

The cabinet of the council was due to discuss the fire last night. The meeting was closed to the public and was only accessed by the media following a last-minute legal challenge.

The meeting was then adjourned by the embattled leader of the council Nick Paget-Brown.

Labour councillor Robert Atkinson told BBC Radio 4 the meeting descended into “utter chaos”.

“I am ashamed of the way in which the council proceeded. They’ve been hiding from residents, they’ve been hiding from backbench councillors for over a week … The leader of the council read the statement and then was not prepared to have a debate with his own council members.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan told Sky the decision was “madness”.

A statement from the council said the meeting had to be adjourned as the presence of the press could prejudice a public inquiry into the blaze.

The cabinet meeting was arranged as a private meeting because of the potential public disorder and the assaults on staff after the protests at the Town Hall in the previous weeks. However, members of the press sought and acquired an injunction which was served on the Council shortly before the cabinet meeting started.
The cabinet received legal advice that in order not to prejudice the public inquiry the meeting could not proceed as it would not be possible to restrict the discussions without straying into areas that would fall within the remit of the public Inquiry. The Leader of the Council therefore closed the meeting. We will explore opportunities for open discussions that do not prejudice the public inquiry.

Savings

Tower block fire in London Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Documents leaked to today’s London Times show that fireproof cladding planned for Grenfell Tower was downgraded to save £293,000.

The documents show that housing officials wanted “good costs” to show council deputy leader Rock Feilding-Mellen. Zinc panels, which would have been non-combustible, were scrapped in favour of aluminium ones with a flammable polyethylene core.

Retired judge Martin Moore-Bick was named this week by Prime Minister Theresa May as the head of the probe into the inferno which engulfed Grenfell Tower on June 14, leaving at least 80 people dead.

Public inquiries can take years and May has pushed for an interim report ahead of the full conclusions, which Moore-Bick said he hoped to produce within a year.

Additional reporting Cianan Brennan

Read: Man falsely claimed his wife and son died in Grenfell fire to get money and housing

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