Glasgow City Council confirm 19 tower blocks contain combustible cladding

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Tower blocks in Cranhill, Glasgow

Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Richard Webb

Joshua Gualtieri
Writer

Combustible cladding, similar to that used on Grenfell Tower, has been found on 19 high-rise buildings in Glasgow

Glasgow City Council has confirmed combustible cladding has been found on 19 high-rise buildings in Glasgow, similar to that used on Grenfell Tower.

The cladding had been identified by Glasgow City Council as part of a wide investigation conducted throughout Scotland in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire that took place in June. Residents of the high-rise buildings were given hand-delivered letters on 29 September alerting them to the cladding.

After the fire at Grenfell Tower, the Scottish government ordered councils to check if aluminium composite material (ACM) had been used on flats in their area.

Bill Dodds, the Head of Building Standards at the Scottish government, said: “In Grenfell the entire building was overclad with ACM, it was a complete enclosure of ACM material so what we’re trying to do is establish whether we have a Grenfell type arrangement where the building is completely overclad in ACM product or if it is in isolated areas, that’s the clarity we’re asking.”

Assistant Head of Planning and Building Standards for Glasgow City Council, Raymond Barlow, had originally informed MSPs that the council had identified 57 high-rise properties as containing the cladding. The council failed to inform owners, residents or the fire-service as to which buildings these were. Further investigations reduced the total to 19.

Barlow informed MSPs sitting on the Local Government Committee in the Scottish Parliament that the information regarding the cladding had not been made public because the council had been waiting to hear from the Scottish government on the issue. Housing Minister Kelvin Stewart responded by criticising the council for refusing an initial offer of help made by the government in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Letters delivered to residents of at least three of the affected high-rise properties explained that investigations had revealed the presence of ACM within the building. The Grenfell Tower fire, which started inside a malfunctioning hotpoint fridge, was first reported at 12:54am on 14 June. The blaze engulfed the 24-story high-rise and was eventually brought under control by fire crews 24 hours later. 40 fire engines responded to the callout, with over 200 firefighters working at the scene. The death-toll is currently unknown, but at least 80 people are currently presumed dead.

The ACM cladding on Grenfell Tower had been installed in a recent renovation. Zinc cladding had initially been proposed, but had been dropped for the cheaper and less fire-resistant aluminium based cladding to make a saving of £300,000.

In the aftermath of the fire, the Department for Communities and Local Government has stated that composite aluminium panels with a polyethylene core should not be used to clad buildings over 18 metres tall.

Council leader Susan Aitken has apologised for any alarm caused. She claims to be “reasonably confident” that the council would be able to reassure the vast majority, if not all, of the residents in the affected Glasgow buildings. She stated: “There is not a Grenfell waiting to happen in Glasgow.”

The Scottish government have stated that building standards and regulations for high-rise domestic properties in Scotland means the ACM used on Grenfell Tower should not be used in their cladding systems.