Labour claims Scottish Government guilty of `monumental error' in Grenfell-style cladding row

The Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council have been accused of making a 'monumental error' by failing to contact residents in high-rise blocks where Grenfell-Tower style cladding has been detected.

Concerns over Grenfell Tower-type cladding
Concerns over Grenfell Tower-type cladding

Council officials have been urged to get in touch with those living in the 57 private buildings in Glasgow where some element of the cladding – ACM (aluminium composite material) has been found.

The Labour MSP Pauline McNeill said there had been an “unacceptable level of complacency” surrounding the revelation this week that so many properties were affected.

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The Scottish Government and the council have been accused of a “cover up” and criticised for failing to tell the people in the high rise flats about the problem.

Mrs McNeill waded into the row after the Scottish Government published a letter from Housing Minister Kevin Stewart claiming that Glasgow City Council had twice declined government help to examine buildings for the cladding.

But as the Scottish Government attempted to deflect attention on the role played by the SNP-run council, Ms McNeill said Mr Stewart should have told the local authority to inform residents immediately that their homes were affected.

Asking an emergency question at Holyrood to Communities Secretary Angela Constance, Ms McNeill said: “I ask the Cabinet Secretary today why her Housing Minister did not tell Glasgow City Council to inform residents immediately of this information in the interests of transparency. Does the minister agree that failure to notify and reassure residents before this was made public, which it now is, and reassure their safety was a monumental error that illustrates an unacceptable level of complacency?”

Ms Constance said there was not enough information about the problem to enable a “complete picture” to be presented to the residents.

The Cabinet Secretary said the number of households affected was not yet clear, the precise material used for some of the cladding had still to be determined as well as how extensively it had been used on the buildings.

“Until those gaps in information are filled we won’t have the best information to rightly inform those residents,” Ms Constance said.

Earlier a letter from Mr Stewart to Holyrood’s Local Government Committee was released, outlining Glasgow City Council’s response to a request for information on how many buildings had cladding similar to that which was blamed for the spread of the Grenfell blaze, which killed around 80 people.

The letter said the local authority twice declined offers of Scottish Government support before submitting information on September 5 that was “not sufficiently clear”. The council was offered support for a third time on September 14 and finally accepted it on September 20 after SNP council leader Susan Aitken intervened.

Email correspondence included with the letter showed a message from council assistant head of planning Raymond Barlow explaining that work on the cladding issue had been interrupted by him being “off” and a “major incident” when the weir in the city centre failed.

Labour MSP Johann Lamont asked why the Government didn’t get in touch with the council until September 14th when ministers had been made aware of the inadequate information on the fifth of that month.

The Conservatives’ Graham Simpson said there was “disbelief” that residents had not been told.

Mr Simpson said: “Fr once I’m not laying the blame at Kevin Stewart’s door. I think this is the responsibility of Glasgow City Council. They have responsibility to the citizens of Glasgow. If they have that information they should be sharing that straight away.”