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High-rise residents face 'cladding lottery,' warn northern politicians after Bolton blaze

LEADING northern politicians have warned that high-rise residents face a “cladding lottery” after a fire at a block of student flats in Bolton raised fresh concerns over safety.

Emergency services have begun an investigation into the cause of a fire at The Cube, a six-storey block on Friday night.

It is understood that the fire spread rapidly into the upper floors of the building.

Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service confirmed that the privately owned flats did not have the aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding found at fault in the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people in June 2017.

All 220 students living in The Cube have been accounted for. Two people were treated at the scene for minor injuries, university authorities said.

Salford Labour Mayor Paul Dennett, who chairs Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s high-rise taskforce, said that the government must release more funding for councils to remove combustible cladding from tower blocks.

Speaking in Bolton on Saturday, he said: “At the moment we have a bit of a cladding lottery.

“We will be asking the government for more funds and more money to deal with what is an industrial crisis that the United Kingdom is facing at the moment in terms of cladding on buildings.

“There is a lot of work to be done.”

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham echoed his calls, telling Prime Minister Boris Johnson that people living in tower blocks must be given “peace of mind.”

Mr Burnham said: “[The Cube] does not have the ACM cladding, which is now banned, but it does have a type of cladding which does cause concern.

“There will be many people living in buildings with this cladding today who will be very worried.

“The Prime Minister is visiting later and we will see if we now need to go further to remove the cladding and give these families peace of mind.”

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This terrible fire highlights the complete failure of the UK’s fire safety system.

“We need to end the deregulation agenda and the disastrous cuts to our fire and rescue service. It’s time for a complete overhaul of UK fire safety before it’s too late.”

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