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Sandwell Council leader assures residents over refurbished flats after London tragedy

By Richard Guttridge | Sandwell | News | Published: | Last Updated:

Newly refurbished high-rise flats have been carried out to meet fire safety regulations, residents were today assured.

Several tower blocks have been renovated in Sandwell over the last few years, including the addition of new cladding to improve insulation.

The devastating fire in London, which left at least 17 dead, and how quickly the flames spread, has led to questions about the safety of external cladding.

Sandwell Council leader Steve Eling said material used in the borough was non-flammable.

He also said it was too soon to say whether a proposed refurbishment of tower blocks in Oldbury would be reviewed in light of the tragedy.

There are 55 tower blocks in Sandwell, with extensive work carried out at Beaconview, Broome, Stanton and Sheapecoate and Kynaston Houses in West Bromwich in recent years.

Planning documents submitted ahead of the work on the blocks showed they were fitted with 'high density laminate boards on aluminium rails' with 'a mineral fibre insulation backing'.

Councillor Eling said the flats were fitted with insulation which should not burn.

He said the council would go along with any recommendations from fire chiefs to review safety at tower blocks but that he was confident they did not present a risk.

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He said: "The cladding done in Sandwell is Rockwool and that does not burn.

"We can give people assurance in Sandwell where buildings are fitted with Rockwool. There is not a polyurethane insulation used in Sandwell.

"We will work in co-operation with West Midlands Fire Service and any recommendations they provide.

"If implications for other local authorities arise from the fire clearly we would assess any recommendations that come out of that.

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"The integrity of our buildings in relation to fire is about as good as it can be. We are fully compliant with the regulations."

A £10 million refurbishment programme on a group of high rises on the Lion Farm estate in Oldbury is set to go ahead this year, including new windows, external cladding, improvements to the balconies.

Asked if there would be greater focus on how the improvements are carried out following the London blaze, Councillor Eling said: It's too soon to say. But the insulation in relation to that will be non-flammable material.

"We expect any work we are doing on tower blocks to be of the highest standard."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
@RichG_star

Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton

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