Prime Minister calls for 'major national investigation' into cladding on tower blocks

Cladding has been removed from the Hanover tower block in Broomhall
Cladding has been removed from the Hanover tower block in Broomhall
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Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a 'major national investigation"' into the use of potentially flammable cladding on high-rise tower blocks.

Mrs May's call came as her cabinet was informed that 95 samples of cladding from tower blocks in 32 English local authority areas have failed fire safety tests - 100 per cent of all samples submitted by councils in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The PM's official spokesman said the national investigation could be conducted as a second phase of the public inquiry already announced into the west London blaze, which claimed the lives of at least 79 people earlier this month.

The latest tally of fire safety checks was presented to cabinet members by Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid, who has issued an urgent call for all councils to send in samples of cladding from tall buildings.

He has also said schools and hospitals may do the same where they have concerns.

Mrs May told the weekly cabinet meeting there would have to be a major national investigation into what had gone wrong when cladding which is failing tests was fitted on buildings across the country over a number of decades.

The exact nature of the investigation has not yet been determined, but one option is for it to form a second phase to the judge-led inquiry into the Grenfell fire, the PM's spokesman said.

"It is clear that everybody is concerned about this and everybody wants to establish what went wrong," he said.

Work has started to remove cladding from the Hanover tower block in Broomhall, Sheffield, after it failed the new tests.

Residents in 125 flats in the block have been told it is safe to stay in their homes while the work is carried out but temporary accommodation will be provided for anyone who wants to leave.

A Sheffield City Council spokesman said: "We have taken the decision to remove the cladding from Hanover tower block in Broomhall, Sheffield.

"We are checking the metal cladding on our tower blocks and it has now been confirmed a single element of the cladding system at Hanover has failed new fire tests."

Councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said: "Twenty-four tower blocks have been refurbished over the last 30 years and we have consistently used products that are widely used in the UK and have complied with building regulations.

"Sheffield City Council has asked for this independent assessment of all its tower blocks so tenants and residents can feel reassured and safe in their homes.

"We will not rest until we can assure tenants that our blocks are safe. We have carried out our own assessment which has revealed that the cladding on Hanover needs to be removed and we will do this straight away.

"We believe it is safe for people to remain in their homes and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is supportive of our approach."

Last week, the council announced that it would be fitting sprinklers to all its tower blocks.