UK blaze tower renovators asked to cut costs

2017-07-01 06:46
This handout image received by local resident Natalie Oxford shows flames and smoke coming from the burning 27-storey block. (Natalie Oxford, AFP)

This handout image received by local resident Natalie Oxford shows flames and smoke coming from the burning 27-storey block. (Natalie Oxford, AFP)

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London - Contractors working on the renovation of London's Grenfell Tower were asked by the building's managers to reduce costs, with cheaper exterior cladding suggested as one alternative, The Times reported Friday.

At least 80 people were killed in the blaze that consumed the tower this month, with the cladding blamed for spreading the fire throughout the 24-floor block.

An "urgent nudge email" sent to contractor Artelia UK from the Kensington and Chelsea tenant management organisation (KCTMO), which runs the tower block on behalf of the local council, said that "we need good costs" for council deputy leader Rock Feilding-Mellen.

One suggestion was the use of aluminium panels instead of zinc, which is more fire-resistant, leading to a "saving of 293 368".

Retired judge Martin Moore-Bick was on Thursday appointed to lead a public inquiry into the fire, which engulfed Grenfell Tower on June 14.

Council leader steps down

Residents have expressed anger at the authorities' handling of the fire, leading protesters on June 16 to storm the town hall which manages the social housing block, though there is no suggestion that fire safety concerns were ignored.

The Kensington and Chelsea Council was also condemned on Thursday for trying to bar journalists from the first meeting of councillors since the disaster and instead adjourning the meeting early.

Theresa May's office criticised the aborted meeting, saying: "The High Court ruled that the meeting should be open and we would have expected the council to respect that."

The furore prompted council leader Nick Paget-Brown to resign on Friday.

"This council has been criticised for failing to answer all people's questions," he said.

"As a council leader I must take my responsibility. I have therefore decided to step down".

149 high-rise buildings

Earlier in the day Robert Black, chief executive of KCTMO, also announced he would resign in order to "concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry."

Victims identified so far include a six-month-old baby, her eight-year-old sister and their parents, who lived on the 20th floor.

The baby was found in her dead mother's arms.

The government revealed on Friday that cladding samples taken from 149 high-rise buildings in 45 local authority areas had all failed fire safety tests.

As part of an emergency fund, the government announced this month that each household whose home was destroyed would receive at least £5 500.

Checks are under way at hundreds of high-rises in Britain fitted with the same cladding which encased Grenfell Tower.


Read more on:    uk  |  fires

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