Failing to learn the lessons of Grenfell Tower

Failing to learn the lessons of Grenfell Tower

 The public inquiry into the 2017 Grenfell Tower disaster has revealed some truly shocking practices in the construction sector, says Sean O’Neill. We learn that insulation manufacturers rigged fire tests to get their substandard cladding approved for tower blocks; that construction firm execs threatened to sue contractors who raised concerns; that, even after Grenfell, the executives kept on lobbying for combustible materials to remain legal for high-rise buildings. Richard Millett, QC, lead counsel to the inquiry, spoke of a “merry-go-round of buck-passing” between architects, contractors and suppliers. An alarming picture? Yes, indeed. But what makes it worse is that it’s this industry Boris Johnson wants to entrust with leading the UK out of the Covid recession. Last summer, he announced a plan to “build, build, build” – to be achieved by overhauling construction rules and slashing red tape. Yet unleashing a “deregulated free-for-all” is the last thing an industry so blatantly guilty of “bodge, bodge, bodge” requires. On the contrary, as the Grenfell inquiry makes painfully clear, this is a sector crying out for tougher, more strictly enforced, rules.

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