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Camden council to remove cladding from five tower blocks

Camden council in London will immediately remove cladding similar to that which burned rapidly on Grenfell Tower from five blocks in the borough, and accused contractors of fitting flammable materials below the standard requested.

The council leader, Georgia Gould, revealed the outer cladding panels on five blocks in the borough were also made up of aluminium panels with a polyethylene core – the kind which is believed to have helped the fire at Grenfell spread across the building.

The buildings on Chalcots estate had been independently tested by the Building Research Establishment after the tragedy, which is believed to have killed at least 79 people last week.

The council also pledged round-the-clock fire safety patrols on the estate’s corridors “to reassure residents and carry out enhanced fire safety checks” until the cladding has been removed.

“The panels that were fitted were not to the standard that we had commissioned,” said Gould. “In light of this, we will be informing the contractor that we will be taking urgent legal advice.”

She said: “Camden council has decided it will immediately begin preparing to remove these external cladding panels from the five tower blocks on the Chalcots estate. Camden council will do whatever it takes to ensure our residents are reassured about the safety of their homes.”

However, the council said the insulation used “significantly differs” from that on Grenfell Tower because it included “fire-resistant Rockwool insulation designed to prevent the spread of fire and fire-resistant sealant between floors, designed to stop a high-intensity flat fire from spreading to neighbouring flats.”

The council said this arrangement previously contained a fire at a flat in Taplow block in 2012.

Meanwhile Barnet council has written to residents in three towers which inspections on Monday revealed are clad in the same aluminium sandwich panels which are believed to have been used at Grenfell.

Granville Point, Harpenmead Point and Templemead Point all use the Reynobond PE panels that were supplied to the Frenfell Tower refurbishment project.

The council has sought to reassure residents that while the panels are the same, “crucially it uses different insulation materials, which are made from a non-combustible mineral fibre material”.

The council leader, Richard Cornelius, said: “To ensure such a tragedy is not repeated in Barnet, we have a responsibility to our community to make sure that safety systems are of the highest standard – including investigating whether sprinklers would be appropriate in our high-rise tower blocks. We will be calling on our housing committee to oversee a programme of investment, based on advice from the London Fire Brigade, to provide added safety and reassurance to our residents. If sprinklers are needed, they will be fitted.”

In Newham, the council has identified three residential towers as using an aluminium composite material in its cladding and has been sent for testing. They include Ferrier Point.

“We will take every action necessary,” a spokeswoman said.