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60 tower blocks fail cladding safety tests after Grenfell Tower blaze

The announcement came after Sajid Javid revealed all of the buildings that have so far submitted cladding samples have failed combustibility tests.

Some 60 high-rise buildings in 25 local authorities across the country have now failed fire cladding safety tests after the Grenfell Tower disaster, the Government has said.

The number rose from 34 tower blocks across 17 local authorities.

The announcement came after Communities Secretary Sajid Javid revealed all of the buildings that have so far submitted cladding samples have failed combustibility tests.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said Doncaster, Norwich, Stockton-on-Tees and Sunderland all had buildings that failed tests, while Manchester, Plymouth and Portsmouth have already been named.

Islington, Lambeth and Wandsworth joined Barnet, Brent, Camden and Hounslow on the growing list of London boroughs, while 11 other areas are yet to be named.

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said around 200 residents from 120 households were still refusing to leave their homes in four tower blocks evacuated in the Chalcots Estate in north London.

She took the decision to clear 600 flats on Friday night after London Fire Brigade inspecting officers identified concerns over the combination of external cladding, fire doors, gas pipes and insulation.

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Residents leave the Taplow tower block on the Chalcots Estate (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Around 60 people stayed in nearby Swiss Cottage leisure centre on Saturday night, as 3,000 displaced residents faced weeks in temporary accommodation.

Ms Gould explained some residents have issues, including agoraphobia, and want to be sure they have got suitable accommodation before moving out of their flats.

“I’m going myself back to the blocks to knock on doors and have those conversations,” she told BBC News.

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Camden Council leader Georgia Gould (David Mirzoeff/PA)

She added: “The last thing I want to do is force people out of their homes, and the conversations I have been having with residents in these buildings is that they are happy to work with us.”

The council said it could take two to four weeks for the four blocks to be made safe.

Ms Gould said they have more hotel spaces and 100 flats of their own properties on Maiden Lane which they have just built, becoming available for residents on Monday.

“We hope to get many people into more secure accommodation as quickly as we can,” she said. “The priority is to make sure that the people in those blocks have somewhere that they can directly go to and making sure that they are safe.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has backed the council’s decision to evacuate the tower blocks.

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“I think they’ve done the right thing. Look, you’ve got to err on the side of caution. You can’t play Russian roulette with people’s safety,” he told Sky News.

A social housing provider in Liverpool announced it has decided to remove cladding from two of its high-rise blocks as a precaution, following Government tests.

In a statement, One Vision Housing said results showed “certain elements of the cladding” on Cygnet House and Wren House in the Bootle area of the city, “whilst meeting building regulations does not meet the latest DCLG test criteria”.

“As a precautionary measure to ensure the continued safety of our tenants, One Vision Housing have taken the decision to remove the cladding from the two blocks with immediate effect, to allow for further investigations,” it added.

The Liberal Democrats called on the Government to immediately ban the use of flammable materials in high-rise buildings.

Sir Ed Davey said: “It is utterly outrageous that British law has failed people in tower blocks across the country and allowed flammable material to be used as cladding.

“The system is clearly broken and needs to be urgently fixed. How many more cases will need to be uncovered before ministers agree to act and finally update fire safety rules?”

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