Barlby and Kensington Queensmill schools update

Monday 19 April 2021

Following the launch of an urgent investigation this weekend, the council wants to update local communities on the use of Kingspan products at the new Barlby and Kensington Queensmill schools.

Cllr Kim Taylor-Smith, deputy leader of the council, visited the site early on Monday morning, spoke to residents and, with officers, has met with contractors and project managers to relay the concerns of the council and the community.

He said:

“I was shocked by the evidence that emerged in module two of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, and I fully understand that this isn’t just an issue of safety and products – it is an issue of suppliers, trust, and moral imperative.

“As of this morning, work with any Kingspan products has been halted. The council is now in talks with contractors to establish how much of this product has been used already, where, and what the next steps should be.

“We have asked project managers at Mace to remove any unused product from the site with immediate effect.

“It is important to stress that this product is not cladding, it is not the same product used on Grenfell Tower. It is used in flooring systems and insulation, normally as a barrier to prevent issues with moisture. It is also safe to use in line with building regulations.

“But, as I have said, regulations are not the whole story here.

“We will continue to look at the details and the options, including alternative materials that can be used. We want to make sure this important school opens on time, but we will be prioritising safety and confidence over a timetable. All aspects of the school so far have been designed with safety first and foremost, including sprinkler systems and access.

“As a further measure, I have also asked officers to audit all of our new builds currently underway in the borough. We work with construction and design companies to be as certain as possible that products in use are safe and from approved suppliers, but clearly the council needs to look more closely at its supply chains having regard to evidence which emerged during module two of the inquiry.

“It is my hope that we work out these issues this week, and we can find a sensible and safe way forward. We apologise for the distress this will have caused, especially at such an incredibly difficult time, but we will fix this, and fix it urgently.”