Labour To Press Housing Minister On Combustible Cladding At Glasgow Flats

21 September 2017, 12:59

Grenfell Tower burnt out

Scottish ministers are to face questions at Holyrood after it emerged dozens of private blocks of flats were found in Glasgow with cladding similar to that used on the Grenfell Tower.

The Scottish Government has already pledged it will work with council chiefs in a bid to reassure the residents of the 57 high-rise flats where combustible cladding has been identified.

But Glasgow Labour MSP Pauline McNeill has secured an urgent question on the matter, and will press Housing Minister Kevin Stewart at Holyrood this afternoon.

It comes after research by Glasgow City Council, carried out in the wake of the London tower block blaze, discovered private flats in the area had combustible cladding.

Of these only a "much smaller number" had aluminium composite material (ACM) as a "substantial part of their make up'', the council said.

While the authority informed Scottish ministers about the discovery, it emerged that neither the owners of the buildings nor the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service had been told.

Raymond Barlow, assistant head of planning and building standards at Glasgow City Council, said the authority had not taken further action because it had been waiting to hear from the Scottish Government on the issue.

Mr Stewart has now confirmed to MSPs that the Government will work with the local authority "to fully investigate and scrutinise the information they have shared so that they can reassure the owners and occupants of private high-rise domestic buildings that they are safe".

He said the information the council had given the ministerial working group on building and fire safety was "not sufficiently clear to be able to provide the necessary level of public reassurance".

Mr Stewart added: "This was especially important as depending on the type of ACM cladding, the extent of its use and how it has been installed as part of a cladding system there might be no cause for concern."

The details supplied by Glasgow City Council said that while some buildings had composite cladding it was "not clear" if this was ACM or not.

In a letter to MSPs on Holyrood's Local Government and Communities Committee, who pressed the council on the situation, Mr Stewart also said there were cases where it appeared ACM was present in buildings but the extent of its use was not clear and the type of ACM was not specified.

But Mr Stewart made clear to the council that if they considered a building to be dangerous, the authority has a duty to act immediately.

The Building (Scotland) Act 2003 allows councils to take "appropriate action" if they consider a building to be defective.

The Housing Minister said: "Additionally the 2003 Act also gives local authorities powers to deal with buildings that they consider to be dangerous.

"The local authority has a duty to act and would be expected to respond immediately. It is therefore the local authority's role to determine the most appropriate course of action taking into account the particular circumstances of each case."

Mr Barlow had confirmed to MSPs on Wednesday that combustible cladding had been found on a number of private residential buildings over 18 metres in height.

After the meeting of the Local Government and Communities Committee, convener Bob Doris said: "'It was deeply concerning to hear a Glasgow City Council official say combustible cladding has been found in private high-rise homes.

''People who are currently living in private high-rises and who listened to this today will of course be worried about their safety in their homes.

''We don't want this to cause undue alarm, as these buildings may well be safe, but people who live in these homes deserve answers."