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Grenfell fire report: 'Ignorance and indifference' led to lax safety practices

The report stopped short of recommending that flammable building materials be banned.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

A REPORT THAT looked to review building regulations in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire has found that there needs to be a radical “change in culture” around fire safety in the UK.

But the British government’s report stopped short of banning the cladding blamed for fuelling last year’s Grenfell Tower fire, despite pressure from architects and the families of the 71 victims.

“Cladding is one issue, there are many other features and many other shortcuts out there that could result in other disasters in the future which we need to address,” review author Dame Judith Hackitt told BBC Radio 4.

“It is about more than simply issuing a ban on certain materials,” she said, advocating for a “new regulatory framework” rather than an outright embargo.

The engineer said tests are already mandated to ensure materials used in tower block construction are of “limited combustibility” or that they have been “fully tested” – but that individuals are currently “cutting costs and not taking responsibility”.

It said that ignorance, indifference, a lack of clarity on responsibility and inadequate oversight led to a “race to the bottom”.

There is insufficient focus on delivering the best quality building possible, in order to ensure that residents are safe, and feel safe.

Twenty-four storey Grenfell Tower was covered in panels of cladding which were never subjected to fire safety testing, The Times reported in February.

The recommendations of her review “would have prevented the type of materials that were used on Grenfell tower from getting onto the building in the first place,” Hackitt said.

Families of those killed in the 14 June disaster as well as architects have urged Hackitt to introduce a total ban on the use of the cladding.

“People are not safe in their homes,” Shahin Sadafy, chair of survivors’ group Grenfell United told the BBC.

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“Today we want her to look us in the eye and tell us that these dangerous materials will never be used again.”

Yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May announced the government will fund £400 million of work to strip 158 social housing blocks of cladding matching the type used on Grenfell.

- with reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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