Student buildings still covered in Grenfell-style cladding

The Guardian is reporting that thousands of students arriving at university for freshers’ week face sleeping in high-rise accommodation wrapped in combustible Grenfell-style cladding, the government has admitted.

Fifty-four privately owned student residential towers in England remain clad in aluminium composite material similar to that which helped spread the fire at Grenfell Tower 15 months ago, claiming 72 lives. The extent of the problem was revealed in figures released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on Thursday.

Hundreds of students live in each tower, many of which were built with funding from international investors. But the government has refused to make public which towers are affected. It has declined a request by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act to say where any of the 468 high-rise buildings in England with failed cladding are. It admitted there was “public interest in transparency with respect to buildings’ safety” but said that disclosing the information could endanger the mental and physical health of people living in the buildings and could compromise their safety. It would only say roughly how many affected buildings there were in each local authority area.

The Office for Students, the higher education regulator, called of urgent checks of the halls of residence.

“We would hope that the local fire authority and the Health and Safety Executive checks these blocks urgently to reassure students of their safety,” said the chief executive, Nicola Dandridge.

A spokesman for the housing ministry said: “There is nothing more important than ensuring people are safe. Details of every building with unsafe ACM [aluminium composite material] cladding are given to the relevant local authority and fire and rescue service so that checks and visits can be undertaken to ensure residents are safe. Building owners are responsible for ensuring residents are properly made aware of fire safety procedures.”

Read more Student buildings still covered in Grenfell-style cladding

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