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Hundreds warned they face eviction because of Grenfell-style cladding

Hundreds of people living in tower blocks have been warned they could be evicted because of dangerous cladding, as the second phase of the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster begins.

Two-and-a-half years on from the fire that killed 72 people, residents of tower blocks in West Yorkshire have received letters telling them they may have to leave.

Dave Walton, deputy chief fire officer of West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, has written to people living in 13 tower blocks in Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield warning that he could close “the entire building, or parts of it” unless they have firm plans to remove combustible cladding.

Image: Fire brigade vehicles are parked near Grenfell Tower in the hours after the blaze in June 2017

Mr Walton told Sky News that safety was his main priority and added: “It’s time that very positive action was taken to remedy the problem.”

Phase one of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry found the tower block’s cladding system, made of plastic-filled aluminium composite material (ACM) panels fitted over plastic foam insulation, did not comply with building regulations.


Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said the ACM panels were the “primary cause” of the rapid spread of flames following a kitchen fire on the fourth floor of the building in west London.

The inquiry’s first report, published in October 2019, contained 46 recommendations for changes to the law and safety improvements.

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The latest figures released by the government this month show that 450 high-rise buildings in England have been found to have similar unsafe cladding.

The government has ordered it has to be removed and a review of building regulations held after the disaster saw the government ban ACM from being used on tower blocks in the future.

‘Significant failings’ in response to Grenfell

Despite £600m of government funding being made available for ACM removal, there are still 315 high-rise buildings fitted with it and an unknown number with combustible high pressure laminate (HPL) panels, which the government announced last summer would also have to be removed.

Abigail Tubis lives in St George’s Building in central Leeds, which has HPL panels and is one of the tower blocks to receive Mr Walton’s ultimatum.

There is no government funding available for removal of HPL and Abigail says she and her husband now can’t sell their flat and don’t know how they and the other residents could afford a potential £2m bill to replace the cladding.

“We could be in debt for the foreseeable future and it would have a massive impact on the decisions we make in our lives,” she said.

Grenfell victims’ relatives slam fire chiefs

Phase two of the inquiry will examine the circumstances and causes of the disaster and will throw a spotlight on what warnings of the danger of combustible materials were given or missed in the years before the disaster.

The inquiry has identified 200,000 relevant documents for its second phase and it’s thought it could be 2023 before the final report is published.

Karim Mussilhy, who lost his uncle in the fire and is now part of Grenfell United, survivors and bereaved families of the tower fire, told Sky News they hope for accountability to come from this next phase.

Image: Karim Mussilhy lost his uncle in the fire Image: Karim is now part of Grenfell United

He said: “Our loved ones are being remembered for losing their lives in the most horrific way possible for the whole world to see and by a culture of neglect.

“We need to change that. We need to make sure their lives were not taken in vain and that one day we change legislation, we change regulation, we change the culture, the mindset of local authorities and government so that this doesn’t happen again.

“[So that] people are respected regardless of the type of accommodation they live in and they feel safe in their homes but clearly people being safe in their homes in this country isn’t a priority for our government.”

Following the conclusion of the public inquiry, the Crown Prosecution Service will decide whether a separate criminal investigation being conducted by the Metropolitan Police will result in any charges being brought.


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