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LABOUR will take urgent action to tackle the “national emergency” of dangerous cladding on tower blocks, shadow housing secretary John Healey announced today.
Official government figures showed last week that the government will miss set targets for removing Grenfell-style ACM cladding of tower blocks by over a decade, with nine in 10 private blocks still containing dangerous cladding.
Labour has vowed to speed up the process of replacement if they win next month’s general election by setting a deadline to the end of December for block owners to prove they are getting rid of dangerous cladding.
If owners fail to do so, Labour will empower councils to take over blocks to get the work done to make them safe.
The announcement is an update to Labour’s five-point plan to tackle dangerous cladding.
Visiting the site of the recent student accommodation fire in Bolton today, Mr Healey said: “It is shameful that, over two years since the horror of the Grenfell Tower fire, people are still living in tower blocks with flammable cladding.
“The Conservatives’ complacency is putting lives at risk, and the fire in Bolton must be a wake-up call.
“Labour will treat the removal of unsafe cladding as a national emergency and deliver real change for the thousands of people still living in homes with deadly cladding.”
The Grenfell Tower fire claimed the lives of 72 people in June 2017.
Justice4Grenfell campaign manager Yvette Williams welcomed Labour’s emergency action.
She told the Star: “In 2017 it was widely known that the cladding on the exterior of Grenfell Tower was the critical factor in the rapid spread of the fire.
“Urgent action should have been taken then; the government in place at this time chose a tardy and indifferent response.
“[Our] campaign would also welcome a complete ban on all flammable cladding, on all buildings, regardless of height.”
More than 260 blocks in the country still have not had Grenfell-style cladding removed and about 70 block owners do not even have a plan in place to do so, according to the government’s figures.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service is investigating the role of cladding at The Cube building on Bradshawgate, Bolton, after a fire rapidly spread and destroyed the six-storey student housing block on Friday.
The Fire Brigades Union, National Education Union, National Union of Students and University and College Union wrote jointly to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson today, setting a deadline of 18 months in which all school buildings must be made safe and slamming the government’s “shameful” record on fire safety.
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