Glasgow City Council twice declined an offer for Scottish Government assistance to help them detect Grenfell Tower-style cladding in high-rise buildings, a letter from Housing Minister Kevin Stewart has claimed.
In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed an estimated 80 people, Mr Stewart said the Government asked local authorities for information on how many buildings had cladding similar that blamed for the spread of the blaze.
This week it emerged that 57 high-rise blocks in Glasgow have some element of the cladding – ACM (aluminium composite material).
In a letter to Holyrood’s Local Government committee, Mr Stewart said the Government had asked all local authorities to look at their buildings, but appreciated more work was required by large cities to gather the information.
“The Scottish Government therefore offered assistance and support to City of Edinburgh and Glasgow City Council to enable them to compile all the information we asked for,” Mr Stewart wrote.
“City of Edinburgh Council took up this offer of support and additional building survey resource was made available to complete the information gathering required. They subsequently confirmed that no ACM had been found on any private high rise domestic buildings. Glasgow City Council declined this offer of support.”
Mr Stewart said that on August 17, Bill Dodds, Scottish Government Head of Building Standards, was in touch with Raymond Barlow, the council’s assistant head of planning, seeking a progress report.
Mr Dodds reiterated “the offer of additional resource support”. According to Mr Stewart’s letter, the offer was again declined.
On September 5, Glasgow City Council sent the government a table in response to the request for information on private high-rise buildings.
Mr Stewart said “key components of the information requested were missing or unclear”.
He wrote: “For example: the table indicated the presence of some buildings where composite cladding had been identified but it was not clear whether it was ACM or not. In other cases the information suggested that for some buildings the plans had not been retrieved so it was not clear whether ACM was present or not. And in others, where the table indicated that ACM was present the extent of its use was not clear (eg whether it was isolated panels, partial elevation or complete elevation) or the type of ACM was not specified.”
A ministerial working group met on September 8th and agreed the information was “not sufficient” to provide the “necessary level of public reassurance”.
On the 14th September the council was written to again with the offer of additional support and resource. The council accepted the offer of help on September 20th.
Mr Stewart added: “We will therefore now work with Glasgow City Council to fully investigate and scrutinise the information they have shared so that they can reassure the owners and occupants of private high rise domestic buildings that they are safe.”