11 Liverpool high rises have combustible cladding

11 Liverpool high rises have combustible cladding

ACCORDING TO the city council, there are 11 towers in Liverpool that have a ‘similar type of cladding’ to that used on Grenfell Tower, after council checks were completed on all high rises.

Liverpool Echo reported on the figure announced by the council’s private sector housing licensing manager Louise Connelly, who stated at the housing select committee for Liverpool City Council that it had completed government mandated checks on 220 towers over 18m in height. She stated that after this, ‘we have 11 buildings that are currently under a notice to remediate’, while a council spokesman added that four of the towers were under improvement notices.

These had ordered that the cladding be replaced, with the spokesman commenting in turn that the work to do this ‘would be done’ by November 2019. Ms Connelly also discussed the recent issues at the Fox Street development in the city, stating that this ‘was a difficult one because it is just short of 18m so it just fell out of the central government guidelines of towers that needed to be inspected’.

In April, the part completed development in Everton was reported to be in the process of being evacuated over cladding fire safety concerns, after a council investigation. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) gave one of the five blocks a prohibition order due to ‘serious construction issues’ including external cladding. Enforcement notices were sent out for the other four blocks over concerns they were ‘poorly finished’ and failed to meet standards.

Developers Linmari and Fox Street Village Ltd have two years to make changes, which if not completed could see the development demolished. MFRS insisted on a waking watch and other temporary measures, with its prohibition order stating that identified ‘will contribute to the spread of fire should ignition occur’, while the external wall system is ‘incomplete’, and aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding is ‘poorly fitted’.

This had ‘capping missing from various points’, with ‘signs of lifting in other areas’, and exposed holes in panels as well as gaps in timber joints. Panels ‘appear to be fixed directly to poorly fitted, untreated and unfinished softwood battens’, with access to interior walls and insulated materials ‘easily achievable’. There was also ‘no evidence of cavity barriers’ to stop fire spread.

There were also concerns about fire doors, with one ‘cut back to the point where the fire preventing qualities have been compromised and the door still does not close’, while lightning protection work has not been completed, and kitchen extractor outlets ‘do not have terminal covers and provide no fire resistance to prevent kitchen fire spreading to the external walls, and neither will they impede the spread of fire from the exterior into the interior of individual apartments’.

When inspectors visited they raised concerns about cavities, with ‘evidence of regular smoking close to the building’ seeing a ‘substantial amount’ of discarded materials, which could ‘enter any of the large gaps in the external cladding’, meaning the ‘likelihood of ignition is greatly increased’. They also found ‘poor’ compartmentation, and ‘low confidence’ among occupants about fire safety.

Discussions found that there was ‘confusion’ over evacuation procedures, with on site security ‘intermittent’ and half hourly patrols not taking place. After two visits, inspectors had a ‘lack of confidence’ in fire safety procedures, while there was ‘unsecured and unrestricted’ access to an unfinished block’s construction site, the report concluding that a ‘significant Category 1 hazard exists’ and the ‘risk of serious harm’ was ‘sever enough to prohibit the use’ for occupation.

In May however, residents of the affected block were evacuated, after the deadline for major repairs – Monday 13 May – passed without work being completed. One tenant called the block ‘the most unsafe building in Liverpool’, and added hat only ‘minimal’ work had been done since the notice was handed out.