South West Wales

Swansea council clarity call over cladding test failure

Cladding on Swansea block of flats
Image caption Swansea Council had cladding on four high-rise blocks examined

Cladding at four blocks of flats in Swansea has failed new safety tests in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The results at Clyne Court, Sketty, and Jefferys Court, Penlan, come after 149 high-rises in England also failed.

Swansea council is seeking clarity on the findings, saying the flats "meet current building regulations". It also said extra safety measures have been put in place since the London fire.

The Welsh Government said it is working closely with the council on the issue.

Samples of the same type of cladding used on Grenfell Tower are being tested from seven social housing tower blocks in Wales at the request of the Welsh Government.

Tests 'not surprising'

Swansea council said the British Research Establishment (BRE) looked at samples from four of its 11 high-rise blocks, three at Clyne Court, and one block at Jeffreys Court which have aluminium composite material (ACM).

Councillor Andrea Lewis, cabinet member for housing, said: "Given that every local authority in England which had materials tested failed those tests, we're not surprised by this outcome.

"However, we're still seeking information from the Welsh Government and BRE about the nature of the tests as we still don't know what form they took.

"What we do know is that the materials we sent for testing meet current building regulations.

"In addition to cladding materials, our systems have non-combustible insulation and metal fire breaks which are over and above building regulations requirements."

Image caption Cladding was removed for testing

The council said enhanced fire safety arrangements were in place - and tenants were being kept informed.

Measures included:

  • Annual fire safety checks and inspections have been completed
  • Introduction of regular visits to all high-rise blocks by officers to ensure there are no fire safety issues
  • Regular checks of communal areas to make sure they are clear and free from combustible materials
  • Further fire safety advice for tenants
  • Dry risers - special tubes which direct large quantities of water for fire-fighters use to all levels of high-rise blocks - have all been checked and are in working order.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Grenfell Tower disaster has prompted a range of fire safety actions from the Welsh Government

Welsh Government officials said on Sunday that all recommended interim fire safety measures set out by the UK Government's Department for Communities and Local Government had been implemented in Swansea.

"The fire service have inspected and reported fire safety measures to be good," said a Welsh Government spokesman.

"We will continue to work closely with Swansea on the follow up to these test results to agree a measured and proportionate way forward that has resident safety at its heart."

Officials said the Welsh Government was also in regular contact with the UK Government following last week's announcement that an expert panel would consider whether panels like those in Swansea "could therefore remain on a building under certain approved circumstances".

The Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant is set to update assembly members on the developments in a statement on Monday.

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