Two years after Grenfell and this building is still covered in dangerous cladding.
This was the message projected onto a tower block in Salford to mark the second anniversary of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire by survivors group Grenfell United. To its credit, the group has spent an impressive amount of time and effort since the fire focusing on fire safety problems at other tower blocks around the country.
This is more than can be said for the government.
Although Theresa May dropped Grenfells name in her resignation speech, the facts on fire safety today do her legacy little good.
In the aftermath of the blaze, which killed 72 people after flames leaped from floor to floor across cladding made from highly flammable aluminium composite material (ACM), it emerged that 433 other high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings had the same kind of cladding.
According to the governments most recent figures, 105 of those have now had that cladding removed, leaving 328 with dangerous ACM cladding still attached.
The government has provided some money to deal with this, of course. Initially, this came in the form of a £400m fund for social landlords to replace ACM cladding.
But tower blocks in the social housing sector actually made up a minority of the problem. Without government backing, progress on removing ACM from privately owned tower blocks stalled. Analysis by Inside Housingshowed that although the government persuaded building owners to put plans in place, these plans rarely translated into action.
It wasnt until last month, after tremendous pressure from various campaign groups, that the government eventually agreed to pay £200m to replace ACM cladding on private blocks as well.
But the job is far from done.
Although building owners have sent cladding samples to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government since almost immediately after the fire, the government still has yet to test the flammability of any materials that arent ACM.
One of the most common non-ACM material is called “high-pressure laminate” (HPL) and is found on tower blocks all around the country. It is also highly combustible, with research in January by the Journal of Hazardous Materials finding that it burns 115 times hotter than non-combustible products. In a recent interview, the professor who carried out the study said he believed the next Grenfell-style disaster would happen in a block clad in HPL.
Research by the insulation manufacturer Rockwool, meanwhile, suggests that there are at least 1,678 high-rise or high-risk buildings with combustible non-ACM materials on their facades.
The government has repeatedly promised to carry out tests, but these have been delayed again and again, most recently — and most ridiculously — because the testing rig was damaged “during a calibration test”.
Earlier this week, a block in Barking provided worrying proof that the government has not got a grip on the cladding crisis, as flames tore through wooden balconies, destroying 20 flats. Thankfully, no one was injured, but as long as no action is taken on non-ACM materials, the government is rolling the dice on 1,678 buildings.
And thats just the cladding.
On the night of the Grenfell Tower fire, the doors to peoples flats didnt do their jobs either, providing only 15 of the 30 minutes resistance to flame they were supposed to. Last year, a major fire door manufacturer contacted over a hundred landlords to inform them that their doors were below standards and needed to be recalled.
Despite fears that these problems are widespread, the government has refused to provide any funding to building owners who need to replace their fire doors, meaning the work is unlikely to be done quickly.
It wont fund the installation of sprinklers in high rises either, despite LondRead More – Source
Hong Kong suspends China extradition bill debate after massive protests
Chief executive Carrie Lam denied her reversal was because of protests (Picture: Getty/EPA)
Organisers behind a mass rally in Hong Kong say their protests will still go ahead tomorrow, despite the countrys chief executive suspending plans to pass a controversial new extradition law.
Chief executive Carrie Lam said the Hong Kong government will suspend its highly controversial plan to allow extraditions to mainland China, following mass protests from Hong Kong residents.
Ms Lam told a press conference that the proposed bill had caused a lot of division in society, saying she had heard calls for her government to pause and think.
I have to admit in terms of explanation and communication, there were inadequacies, she said.
We have to bear in mind the greatest interests of Hong Kong.
Ms Lam had previously refused to withdraw the bill, with protesters calling for her resignation.
Local pickpocket arrested over raping British girl, 15, in sauna in Majorca
The incident happened in a sauna at the Best Delta Hotel in Majorca (Picture: Solarpix)
A British g..
A British girl, 15, has been raped while on holiday with her family in Majorca, according to local reports.
A Romanian pickpocket has been arrested over the alleged sexual assault that is said to have taken place when the schoolgirl entered a sauna at the Best Delta Hotel by herself on May 27.
She was staying at the four-star venue in Llucmajor with her relatives at the time.
The man allegedly went to the hotel with his wife to target holidaymakers they intended to rob, according to newspaper Ultima Hora, which described him as a well-known pickpocket.
A spokesman for the Best Delta Hotel said: We have assisted one of our clients after she informed us she had suffered a sexual attack in our establishment.
We deeply regret what has happened and from the very outset, and have focused all our attention and human and technical resources into helping the person affected and her family.
As soon as we were made aware of what happened, we requested the appropriate medical response team and notified the police who arrived on scene very quickly. (more…)
Its not Rory Stewart who threatens Boris Johnson in the debates. Its Dominic Raab
Boris Johnson will swerve the Channel 4 debate on Sunday, as his campaign continues to minimise its ..
Boris Johnson will swerve the Channel 4 debate on Sunday, as his campaign continues to minimise its exposure to scrutiny and to risk. The former foreign secretary will, however, attend the BBCs debate on Tuesday evening, when the field will have further narrowed.
There are a variety of reasons why the former mayors interests are well-served by avoiding the debate: the biggest one of course is that he is currently the frontrunner and it is in the interests of the frontrunner to avoid moments that could change the contest.
There are also a number of specific threats. The biggest in the eyes of the press at this debate is Rory Stewart, who has been the most outspoken critic of Johnson personally. But bluntly, there is very little that Stewart can say about Johnson that will damage him. Johnsons parliamentary supporters arent backing him because they believe he has the purest character, or the best record in office, but because they think one or all of the following: that he is the politician who can get Brexit resolved, put Nigel Farage back in his box, win the next election, or that he is going to be the next Conservative Prime Minister anyway so better to live on your knees than to die on your feet.
His coalition among the Conservative membership likewise rests on members who think he can win elections, and members who think he can be trusted on Brexit. Johnsons biggest political assets are his victories in the mayoral elections of 2008 and 2012 and the referendum of 2016, rather than anything else.
In Parliament, he has a coalition of people who are ideologically attuned to him and people who want jobs under him. This coalition has radically different ideas about how to resolve Brexit – some are ardent supporters of no deal, others fear that a no deal Brexit would bury the party. Some want to avoid an election, others believe that it is inevitable.
So the two big threats to Johnson are a) that another candidate will be able to successfully prosecute the argument that they, not he, are the partys best bet electorally speaking; and b) that his parliamentary coalition will break up between now and the final ballot.
By swerving this first debate, Johnson is increasing the risk of that one of Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab or Rory Stewart might sufficiently wow the nationally-representative studio audience to up-end the contest. But the price of increasing risk a) is that he is decreasing the chances of risk b).
Why? Because the candidate who Johnson will be most well served by the absence of now and that BBC debate isnt Rory Stewart – its Dominic Raab, the only other impeccable No Deal advocate left in the contest. If Raab is eliminated between now and then, Johnsons parliamentary balancing act gets a lot easier. He will be the most extreme pole of the Conservatives Brexit debate and that will make it easier for him to avoid being pinned down by anyone.
The difficulty for Johnson is that it is not guaranteed that Raab will be eliminated. While some of Raabs supporters are privately considering throwing in the towel, supporters of the already-eliminated Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey are both contemplating that they are better served by backing Raab than Johnson, for multiple reasons. Some ambitious MPs think it is too late to secure preferment under Johnson, but that an empowered Raab might be a useful advocate for “his” people later down the line. Other, more suspicious parliamentarians, dont want advocates of no deal to be confined to a menu that consists solelyRead More – Source
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