20 July 2017 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
The Local Government Association is calling on government to launch an "urgent and immediate" review of building regulations.
Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, said such a review could not wait until after the result of a public inquiry or coroner's report into the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
He said: "We have to act based on what we know now, while being prepared to revisit the building regulations again in the future if any additional lessons need to be learned.
"There is complexity and confusion in the current system that must be addressed and local government must play a central role in this review from the outset. The review needs to consider how easy it is to use, comply with and understand the building regulations and the associated documents supporting them, particularly those relating to the installation of cladding and insulation on external walls of buildings and how the building control, fire safety and planning regimes interact.
"Councils will do whatever it takes to ensure our residents are all safe in their homes. We have been clear all along that entire cladding panels and the insulation behind them need to be fire tested together as a system, rather than just the core of the panels on their own, and are also pleased these much-needed changes to the testing process will now happen. It is vital that we get this right and this whole-system testing needs to happen as soon as possible." He added.
"We are concerned that the Building Research Establishment (BRE), carrying out safety tests, does not feel able to release the results of previous cladding system tests, as these are deemed commercially confidential. If the public is going to have faith in this fire safety testing process then everything needs to be out in the open.
"It is no time for contractors or manufacturers to withhold test results from both councils and the public.
"The industry and BRE needs to waive this confidentiality in the public interest to assist the government and councils in gathering as complete a picture as possible of what is and is not acceptable in cladding systems. These are exceptional circumstances when not only the safety of thousands of residents, but also the peace of mind of many more, is at stake."