Councillors to scrutinise investigation into dangerous cladding on Sheffield tower block

Councillors on a scrutiny committee are set to discuss a report that detailed a three-year investigation into why dangerous cladding was put on a council tower block in Sheffield.

Tuesday, 24th November 2020, 4:45 pm

Residents at Hanover Tower, on Exeter Drive, Broomhall, were told safe aluminium material would be used before it was put on the building.

But years later government lab tests – introduced in the wake of the Grenfell disaster in 2017 – exposed the cladding used as a cheaper aluminium composite material with ‘no flame retardant properties’.

The council began replacing it with solid aluminium cladding as an investigation was launched to establish why it was put on the building and who authorised it.

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Cladding on the Hanover Tower block in Sheffield, South Yorkshire in 2017

Investigators drew from various documents including emails, planning applications and drawings but said not all documentation relating to the project was retained and it is impossible to say with certainty what is missing.

This was partly blamed for a lack of clarity on the council’s role in the decision.

The investigation also failed to find any information illustrating if steps were taken to check the safety of the cladding before it was put on.

In light of the findings, councillor Paul Wood, cabinet member for community safety at the council, said: “Compiling it did allow the council to consider the nature of design and build contracts where responsibility sits with the contractor and a number of areas that would improve the management of [such] contracts going forward.”

He listed a number of steps the council would take, including a review of document retention policy to ensure project details are retained in line with legal requirements, check current design protocols and sign off process adopted by the council are fit for purpose and ensure competent qualified people are appointed to advise and manage on high risk design projects and obtain third party expert opinion of proposed designs.

The safer and stronger communities scrutiny committee will discuss the report in a meeting on Thursday.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.