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FIREFIGHTERS condemned a property developer’s “shameless” attempt to protect its profits over safety today after it called for the relaxation of a ban on flammable cladding imposed after the Grenfell fire.
Berkeley Group, which expects to make a £500 million profit over the next five years, told the Times that some aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding is “low-risk,” and should not be banned.
The private developer is renovating 20 high-rise towers featuring the same cladding involved in the Grenfell fire disaster, which killed 72 people.
Days after the third anniversary of the tragedy, Berkeley Group chief executive Rob Perry claimed: “It’s low risk. There should be a risk-based approach on the whole building.”
A Grenfell United statement said: “In the week that we marked the anniversary of losing 72 loved ones — Berkeley Group reminding us that profit still comes before safety for developers.”
The Unite union branded Mr Perry’s comments “disgraceful.”
“Rather than considering allowing flammable cladding the government should be ensuring that the properties still clad in this dangerous material have it removed without delay,” assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said.
“There are in excess of 2,000 properties which remain highly vulnerable to the same tragedy occurring,”
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said the suggestion was “utterly contemptible” and contradicted advice given at the Grenfell Tower inquiry.
The inquiry into the disaster found that the cladding was the main reason that the fire spread rapidly.
“Seventy-two people lost their lives at Grenfell, and to suggest that the cladding responsible for that disaster is ‘low risk’ — when research has shown it to be as flammable as petrol — shows the type of disregard for human life that led to the Grenfell tragedy happening in the first place,” Mr Wrack stormed.
“Make no mistake, these comments from the Berkeley Group are an attempt to move the conversation on and protect their profits from funding vital remediation work.
“This shameless behaviour is emblematic of a system that values profit over people.”
Property developers and government have come under heavy criticism for failing to remove combustible cladding from buildings fast enough.
The Labour Party has said that around 56,000 people still live in buildings with flammable cladding three years after Grenfell.
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