Birmingham & Black Country

Sandwell tower block panels fail fire safety tests

Astbury Court in Oldbury Image copyright Google
Image caption Works to remove panelling on the blocks began on Tuesday

Panels from balconies and windows are being removed from four tower blocks after they failed fire safety tests.

Sandwell Council has started removing aluminium panelling from blocks in Oldbury and West Bromwich.

Experts say the panels failed buildings regulations' combustion tests, but the council insisted residents were safe.

Fire safety in tower blocks is being tested across the country in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster in London, in which 79 people died.

The cladding on the flats is not made from the same material as the panelling and will not need to be removed.

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Image copyright Google
Image caption Macauley House in West Bromwich is one of the blocks affected

The blocks affected are Astbury Court and Lawrence Court in Oldbury and Neale House and Macauley House in West Bromwich.

Works to remove the panelling will be completed by the end of next week will have "no impact on residents", Sandwell Council leader Steve Ealing has said.

The authority are required to test all aluminium or ACM panels or cladding in the borough but said it was not testing all tower blocks.

Jan Britton, chief executive of Sandwell Council, said: "While the panels comply with current building regulations, in light of the test results and recent events we are taking this action because the safety of our residents always comes first."

Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, Sandwell's cabinet member for housing, reassured residents they are "safe to remain in their buildings while we carry out work to remove the panels in question".

She added: "The main cladding on these four blocks is not the same as that used at Grenfell Tower nor is it made of aluminium composite like the panelling we're having to remove."

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