EVEN in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the government has refused to put an end to ‘light touch regulation’ and it still will not insist that all building materials are rigorously tested for how combustible they are. The government has refused to rule-out ‘desktop assessments’ of building materials. A ‘desktop assessment’ is when a new building material, rather than put through rigorous safety tests is simply rubber stamped as ‘safe’.
Nearly 50 MPs from Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have sent a damning letter to the government insisting that a refusal to rule out the use of ‘desktop assessments’ will ‘put people’s lives in danger’. In a letter to Housing and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, they wrote: ‘In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire we find it unfathomable that the government’s response would be to make building regulations weaker and more lenient when it comes to the use of combustible materials on high rise buildings and tower blocks.
‘We are deeply concerned about the culture of cost-cutting and unsafe practices that came to light post-Grenfell, and we await the publication of Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of building safety regulations.’
In December, an interim report of an independent review into building regulations carried out by Dame Judith Hackitt said the government should ‘significantly restrict the use of desktop studies’ to ensure ‘they are only used where appropriate and with sufficient, relevant test evidence.’
In their letter, the MPs said: ‘The Hackitt Review’s interim report called on the government to “significantly restrict” the use of desktop studies to approve changes to cladding, and we urge you to ensure that the government will not make any changes to regulations that could result in combustible materials being cleared for use on tower blocks in our constituencies without a fire test taking place.
‘Such changes would be totally unacceptable, highly dangerous and would put lives at risk. ‘We call on you to be true to your promises and ensure that no changes are made to fire safety and building regulations that could make another tower block fire more likely.’