Housing trust Wythenshawe Community Housing Group has started work to remove 78 feature panels at its Village 135 scheme that were identified as using similar material to the cladding panels used at Grenfell Tower.
Although Peter O’Reilly, county fire officer of Geater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, declared the service satisfied that the building was safe, the organisation acted immediately to start removing the cladding.
WCHG worked with the fire service to review Wythenshawe’s 10 tower blocks following last week’s disaster. In a statement, it said: “We want to reassure all our residents we take their safety very seriously. We have robust fire safety measures in place, with a state of the art fire alarm system for early detection, 24 hour on-site concierge service and all alarms are linked to a Careline system for added security.”
The latest figures from tests being carried out across the UK’s 600 cladded blocks show 11 buildings in eight separate local authority areas to have the Aluminium Composite Material cladding in question. Along with Manchester, only Camden and Plymouth have been identified among this list.
Melanie Dawes CB, permanent secretary at the DCLG, yesterday wrote to local authority and housing association chief executives across the country, issuing advice endorsed by the National Fire Chiefs Council on steps to be taken when the panels in question are found to be in use.
Liverpool has reported that none of its social housing uses the cladding. The city council met yesterday with fire chiefs and housing associations, and reported that further safety tests are being carried out at 28 low to high rise blocks to look at related issues such as sprinkler systems, fire breaks, evacuation plans and fire alarms.
Deputy mayor Cllr Ann O’Byrne said: “We have a duty of care to residents to reassure them their buildings are safe, whether they live in a high or low rise block or one that has recently been refurbished. From what we know so far, a unique set of circumstances combined and led to the Grenfell tragedy, but there is absolutely no room for complacency.
“The council, Mersey Fire and Rescue Service and the city’s housing associations are co-ordinating a comprehensive programme of assessments and inspections and we will be meeting again in a fortnight to look at the next steps. We are also reaching out to the private sector and major buildings and venues to get a complete picture of safety across all high occupancy buildings in the city.”
Cheshire East Council has also reported that a review of its own building stock has shown no issues. The authority has contacted its registered housing providers to seek further assurances.