Removing failed cladding may have made towers less safe

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

Combustible cladding could remain on tower blocks across the country - despite failing fire safety tests.

Government-appointed experts said removing the flammable material from the exterior of some residential blocks may have even created problems and made the high-rises less safe.

The increasing confusion has left residents and tower block owners anxiously waiting for answers as experts meet to decide whether cladding "could remain".

The uncertainty came as ITV News has seen a letter from 64 organisations involved with fire safety, telling the government there has been a "systemic breakdown in fire safety regulation".

The Fire Sector Federation asked for an "urgent" meeting with government in the letter to Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid.

Some 149 cladding samples in 45 local authorities failed the national fire tests, ordered after the material contributed to the Grenfell Tower blaze.

The government ordered cladding to be removed for testing from towers in cities across England. Credit: ITV News

Cladding has already been removed across the country, including towers in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Portsmouth and Sunderland.

Mark Hooper of Liverpool Mutual Homes told ITV News there was a "lack of clarity" over what action to take.

Speaking as workers stripped off panels, he said: "Some co-ordination needs to take place."

Residents said they had been left confused by contradictory statements on the safety of cladding. Credit: ITV News

An effort to decide whether the cladding will stay or go will occur this weekend at a gathering of experts.

Peter Bonfield, of the Grenfell Expert Advisory Panel, told ITV News: "We're assembling a whole array of professionals and experts over the next few days to really think through that question."

He said the panel would "give advice back to residential tower block owners around the country and most importantly to people who live in those buildings, so they can have some assurances or otherwise".