Salford City Council has started to remove cladding from nine Pendleton tower blocks, as the number of UK buildings where cladding samples have failed combustibility tests continues to rise.
The move follows the start of precautionary cladding removal by One Vision Housing at two Bootle blocks, Cygnet House and Wren House, announced on Saturday.
Manchester housing group One Manchester has also now announced that it is to remove cladding from three buildings in Hulme and two in Rusholme. Although One Manchester had used a non-combustible mineral rock wool insulation, a spokesman said “we have hired a contractor to remove all of the cladding which is made of aluminium composite materials, and that work will commence as soon as possible”.
In its latest update, the DCLG said that samples from 60 high rise buildings across 25 local authority areas have now failed tests. Fourteen of those councils have been named, with Manchester still being the only North West location officially confirmed – four buildings within the city’s jurisdiction have been failed so far. Cladding removal started in Wythenshawe last week.
Although its test results are still pending, Salford yesterday started a programme to remove all its aluminium composite cladding, with Thorn Court the first block to be tackled.
Mayor Paul Dennett said: “This is the right thing to do. I said once we had made the decision we would get on with removing the cladding. We haven’t waited around and we’re getting on with it straight away.” The cladding panels will be replaced with a different type of panel at a later date.
Pendleton Together, which manages the housing on behalf of the council, said that works will be carried out with minimal disruption and no requirement for tenants to move out. The organisation has introduced new fire evacuation procedures, extra support from local housing staff and 24/7 patrols on each block. Meetings with residents were held over the weekend. Three Salix blocks are also to have cladding removed.
As reports emerged over the weekend that every sample so far tested had failed, the government moved to reassure the public, stressing that only in cases where a range of fire safety protocols fall below standards, as in Camden last week, will evacuations be necessary.
The Local Government Association, which represents 370 local authorities, has issued a statement seeking to reassure residents in any affected area: “For those areas still waiting for results of tests, our advice to them is to prepare contingency plans so they can take any measures needed quickly.
“The LGA has a team of staff working closely with councils and the DCLG around the clock to help local authorities as they continue to support communities affected during this difficult time. We also continue to press the Government to ensure councils have the funding they need to support residents and carry out any new safety measures.”