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Braithwaite House: ACM cladding on Islington high-rise similar to material implicated in Grenfell Tower inferno – council

PUBLISHED: 12:26 23 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:17 29 June 2017

Grenfell Tower, left, went up in flames on June 14, killing at least 79 people. Right, Braithwaite Tower off Old Street has been found to have the same cladding implicated in that blaze. Pictures: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire and Stephen Richards/Geograph (Creative Commons licence CC-BY-SA 2.0)

Grenfell Tower, left, went up in flames on June 14, killing at least 79 people. Right, Braithwaite Tower off Old Street has been found to have the same cladding implicated in that blaze. Pictures: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire and Stephen Richards/Geograph (Creative Commons licence CC-BY-SA 2.0)

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An Islington tower block is covered in similar cladding to that implicated in the Grenfell Tower inferno and will be ripped down “as soon as possible”, the town hall confirmed this afternoon.

The blaze at Grenfell Tower in west London. The same ACM cladding that was on that building has been found at Braithwaite House. Picture: Nathalie Oxford/PA WireThe blaze at Grenfell Tower in west London. The same ACM cladding that was on that building has been found at Braithwaite House. Picture: Nathalie Oxford/PA Wire

Tests have revealed cladding on the side of Braithwaite House, in Bunhill Row off Old Street, was found to have Aluminium Composite Material. It was installed in 1998.

The product on Grenfell Tower, where at least 79 died, consisted of aluminium panels with a flammable polyethylene core and is thought to have hastened or even caused the spread of the devastating blaze on June 14.

Smoke billows from 24-storey Grenfell Tower after the devastating blaze that killed at least 79 on June 14. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA WireSmoke billows from 24-storey Grenfell Tower after the devastating blaze that killed at least 79 on June 14. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

It is not known whether the ACM on Braithwaite House is the same or a different type with a fire-retardant core.

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington’s housing leader, said: “As a landlord, safety is our number one priority and we will do whatever it takes to ensure people are safe in our estates.

Smoke billowing from a fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA ImagesSmoke billowing from a fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Images

“Last night, we received results of tests on cladding on the side of Braithwaite House, and they have confirmed the presence of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM).

“We’re arranging to have the cladding, which is only on the sides of the building, removed as soon as we possibly can by a specialist contractor.

"We’re stepping up safety measures in the block immediately, with fire safety patrols taking place day and night from today until the panels are removed"

Cllr Diarmaid Ward

“We’re also stepping up safety measures in the block immediately, with fire safety patrols taking place day and night from today until the panels are removed.

“Our housing staff were at Braithwaite House last night to carry out fire checks and clear any obstructions in communal areas. We’re also taking advice from London Fire Brigade and will follow all their recommendations.

The fire in Grenfell Tower. Picture: @Natalie_Oxford/PA WireThe fire in Grenfell Tower. Picture: @Natalie_Oxford/PA Wire

“We know this news will be distressing to residents.

“We have organised a drop-in session with residents today and also there will be an information point at St John’s Street Area Housing Office.”

Braithwaite House off Old Street. Picture: Tom HortonBraithwaite House off Old Street. Picture: Tom Horton

But one Braithwaite House tenant, who did not wish to be named, told the Gazette the block has other fire safety issues: “Removing the cladding is lovely. Obviously it’s a big thing.

“But the council has a lot more work to do.

Contractors removing the cladding from Braithwaite House off Old Street. Picture: Tom HortonContractors removing the cladding from Braithwaite House off Old Street. Picture: Tom Horton

“I’ll wait to see the outcome of issues I have been reporting over many years, including the fire exits on the roof, which is unsafe.”

Council leader Richard Watts told the Gazette outside Braithwaite House: “We received a call [last night] warning us that the cladding on this building wasn’t safe and we’ve got to work straight away to try to resolve the matter and ensure the safety of residents.

“I don’t know about whether residents had concerns that predate Grenfell Tower and if that is the case then I’m very sorry.

“It’s important that we act quickly and that’s why there’s so many people here making sure that action is being taken.”

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