'Government needs to act with urgency and set clear timings' for cladding removal

10 June 2020, 08:59

Campaigners have urged the Government to set a time limit
Campaigners have urged the Government to set a time limit. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Campaigners are urging the Government to agree on a deadline to remove all flammable cladding from homes, three years after the Grenfell Tower fire killed 72 people.

The plea comes just days before the third anniversary of the disaster, and plays on the Government's coronavirus public messaging campaign, with a graphic that reads "Safe homes. Protect residents. Save lives".

The Justice4Grenfell group has asked the public to write to their MP and demand a detailed plan and time limit on how the dangerous cladding will be removed.

Last year, then communities secretary James Brokenshire said he expected the removal of all unsafe cladding by this month, but thousands of homes are still covered in aluminium composite material (ACM) deemed to be dangerous.

The move comes ahead of the third anniversary of the disaster
The move comes ahead of the third anniversary of the disaster. Picture: PA

Justice4Grenfell spokeswoman Yvette Williams said: "For the people affected there is still no clear understanding of the time-frame to have these panels removed.

"We believe the Government needs to act with urgency and set clear timings for completion and take accountability for an expedient removal.

"At a time when people are urged to stay in their homes more, safety is paramount.

"Over 23,000 households are still covered in Grenfell-style flammable cladding three years after the disaster.

"The fight for change and justice must continue as many thousands of people's lives are at risk."

Sunday June 14 will mark three years since the west London tower block fire, and churches across the city will ring their bells 72 times in remembrance of the victims.

St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Southwark Cathedral will join Grenfell's parish church, St Clement Notting Dale, at 6pm at the invitation of the Bishop of Kensington, the Rt Rev Graham Tomlin.

Dr Tomlin said: "Nearly three years ago, the tragedy at Grenfell Tower left us wondering how this could happen in a 21st century city like London.

"We are now facing a very different tragedy in the form of coronavirus, but we continue to ask similar questions.

"As we try to make sense of what we are living through today, let's not forget that hundreds of families are still trying to make sense of what happened on that day in June 2017."

A Government spokesman said: "The safety of residents is our top priority and since the Grenfell Tower fire we have worked tirelessly with councils to identify buildings at risk and ensure they are made safe.

"We are providing £1.6 billion for the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings and are bringing forward the biggest legislative changes in a generation to provide further enforcement powers against those who do not comply with the law, and ensuring that residents' safety is at the heart of the construction process."