'Appalling': Tory MPs reject deadline to make tower block cladding safe within five years of Grenfell

TOPSHOT - Messages of support are written on a wall surrounding Grenfell tower in west London on October 30, 2019. - The emergency response to a 2017 high-rise fire that killed 71 people in London had
The June 2022 deadline marked five years after the Grenfell Tower disaster in west London, in which 72 people died. (AFP via Getty Images)

Conservative MPs have been branded “appalling” after voting down a “cast-iron deadline” of June 2022 to complete building safety works amid the cladding crisis.

Some 358 Tory MPs voted down the Labour amendment to the Building Safety Bill, which would have compelled the government to ensure the safety – including the removal of flammable cladding – of buildings such as flat and apartment blocks within the next 13 months.

The June 2022 deadline marked five years after the Grenfell Tower disaster in west London, in which 72 people died.

The government's latest building safety data show that as of 31 March, there were still 111 high-rise buildings with the same type of cladding which caused the Grenfell fire to spread.

Following the vote on Tuesday evening, Labour MP Apsana Begum referred to a tower block fire in her Poplar and Limehouse constituency on 7 May.

Watch: Fire sweeps through east London tower block with same cladding as Grenfell

Some of the affected section had the same cladding panels which were a key factor in the Grenfell disaster, but the building’s management company said it played no part in the fire.

Begum posted on Twitter: “Just 11 days ago, a fire in a building in with the same cladding as in Grenfell, led to people in my area being hospitalised & evacuated.

“Today, the government were asked to set a hard deadline of June 2022 for remediation works to complete.

“258 [sic] MPs voted it down.


Opening the debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Labour’s shadow housing secretary Lucy Powell had said of next June’s five-year anniversary since Grenfell: “Nobody should pass this milestone living in an unsafe block.”

She added: “For people trapped in buildings with dangerous cladding that dream has become twisted and become a waking nightmare.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: “I’m acutely conscious of the significance to the bereaved and the survivors who, more than anything, never want any community to go through what they have suffered.

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“That is what our landmark bill aims to deliver through the biggest improvements to building safety regulation for a generation.”

“Building on the Fire Safety Act it will embed the new building safety regulator as part of a wide-ranging, rigorous approach to regulating the built environment in this country.”

Jenrick added the government would also implement recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt’s review, strengthening accountability and responsibility across the sector with “clear duties and responsibilities” for building owners and managers.

The Grenfell Tower as seen from Silchester Road. Picture date: Tuesday February 16, 2021.
The Grenfell Tower as seen from Silchester Road. (PA)

Products used in the construction of buildings will also be bound by “rigorous” safety standards, residents will have a “stronger voice” to seek redress and financial support will be given to tenants to remove unsafe cladding, he told the Commons.

It comes after Downing Street's controversial Fire Safety Bill passed into law last month. Critics of the bill said it will leave leaseholders with flammable cladding on their building liable for costs of up to £50,000 in order to remove it, despite it being there through no fault of their own.

At the vote, Labour’s amendment lost by 138.

Watch: Labour on June 2022 deadline to solve cladding crisis (from before the Commons vote)