Image copyright Matthew Hodson/Press Association Image caption Grenfell’s cladding was fitted to 24 flats in a block owned by the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO)
The owner of the cladding system which the government says failed tests before the deadly Grenfell Tower fire in west London last year has pulled out of a partnership with Mercedes in the wake of the tragedy.
Councillor Matthew Hodson, acting manager at Kensington and Chelsea Council, said the auditors owned by the world’s biggest auto brand “is no longer the right partner for us”.
He blamed the company, Rydon, for incomplete and inaccurate fire risk assessments on the property.
It comes after the firm was first fined last year for not properly assessing the spread of Grenfell’s cladding.
Mr Hodson added: “The partnership with Rydon remains very much alive for future work.
“We maintain every confidence in their ability to carry out inspections of works in the borough.”
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The charred remains of Grenfell Tower after the fire
Rydon’s decision followed a review of the programme for the supply and installation of a 5m by 6m cladding system on the building by external property services firm Seascape.
A sub-contractor later installed cladding material similar to those manufactured by Rydon, said the Grenfell Action Group, a residents’ action group that complained of problems with the building’s safety, before the fire.
The cladding company was fined £250,000 in 2017 after its work was found to be “misleading” because certain materials were incorrectly listed in the planning report and its senior management said it knew nothing about the criminal inquiry.
Date of occurrence: 14 June 2017
Cause of fire: Fire started in the kitchen on the fourth floor
Occupants: About 200 people
Engineer: Robert Tomlinson of CNCA Plc
Fire deaths: 68
About 200 peopleEngineer: Robert Tomlinson of CNCA PlcPrincipal: We feel the job was not done properly
How did it start? Searches found “not a single point of ignition”
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Cladding material was used to clad parts of the building on more than 100 flats
Earlier on Tuesday, Kensington and Chelsea Council said a review of the work by external property services firm Seascape found elements of the work were not up to standards.
“While the integrity of the building was not compromised, neither was the standard of some of the work and this has had consequences,” the council said.
It added that the council was withdrawing its most recent application for planning permission for the work, issued in November 2017.
Responding to the council’s announcement, the head of Rydon, Rob Lynch, said: “We are surprised and disappointed that the council have issued an announcement in relation to the project.”
He said there was a widespread delay and technical difficulties in the application.
“We take this matter very seriously and we will co-operate fully with the council,” he added.
The Rydon Board of Directors noted the “dire and recent circumstances” that have arisen from the police investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire and the independent public inquiry which has been announced, but would “take this into account as our response, in addition to our commitment to meet all previous contractual commitments”.
Grenfell action group’s 16-page document said: “No-one had warned us about the design or construction of this product. All the information we had was supplied by Rydon.”
So why is the city council suddenly now ending its relationship with the company?
Kensington and Chelsea is still likely to continue with the local authority infrastructure building service, a contracting firm owned by Manchester City Council.
One of its directors is Maria del Pilar Castro, a leading engineer and board member of Manchester’s Recourse Repair Service.
She is listed as a supervisor and partner of RB – the name of an engineering firm with whom Rydon is joint managing director.