By Julia Gregory, local democracy reporter
People bereaved by Grenfell are calling for a ban on products made by companies connected with the Grenfell Tower refurbishment being used on Kensington and Chelsea Council’s building projects.
It comes after floor insulation was used on a new £36.5m school for children with special needs and primary school next door, a mile away from Grenfell Tower where 72 people tragically died.
Residents and people bereaved by the fire in 2017 staged a protest after they spotted packaging for Kingspan Greenguard at the building site for Kensington Queensmill special school and the adjacent Barlby primary school.
Kensington and Chelsea Council says the product has now been removed and it has launched an “urgent” inquiry into what happened.
The new school for children with special needs is due to open this September with places for 80 children. It’s part of a £36.5m investment by the council.
The revelation comes as people who were bereaved and survived the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower are preparing for three days of gruelling evidence about their relationship with the council at the Grenfell Inquiry.
Grenfell United, which represents many of the bereaved and survivors questioned why the council was using public funds on products from the company.
This can't be true, can it @RBKC? While some are divesting millions from Kingspan due to Grenfell revelations, are you using public funds to buy these dangerous materials from an ethically bankrupt company? https://t.co/TS4uGTaAW3
— Grenfell United (@GrenfellUnited) April 17, 2021
Earlier this year the Grenfell Inquiry heard that Kingspan kept results of its fire tests on products private.
Its K15 insulation was used on Grenfell Tower.
Leearna Oliffe, who lives in North Kensington and is a member of Grenfell Community Support said: “I’ve had messages from people who are bereaved and survivors telling me they’ve gone through years of counselling after the fire and this has retriggered them.”
She said the council should not have any products from companies connected the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower used on any of its buildings.
Kensington and Chelsea Council said it has “launched an internal investigation to understand why contractors are using Kingspan products at a new school being built in the borough.”
It added: “We understand the anger and concerns this will cause in our communities and we are determined to get answers quickly.”
The council’s deputy leader, Kim Taylor-Smith, held a meeting with contractors on the site. He said the product is not cladding, but for use under the floor.
Afterwards he said: “All Kingspan products are being removed and will not be used going forward.”
The product was being used under the flooring as insulation.
Councillor Taylor-Smith will hold an urgent council meeting to find out what happened.
Opposition leader Pat Mason, who joined the protest outside the school said: “We do not want products from any company connected with Grenfell on a council building.
“We do not want any company mentioned in the Inquiry to be included in any part of works in the borough. We do not want to have to explain.”
And Liberal Democrat councillor Linda Wade said: “It is of enormous concern to residents in the north of the borough, and indeed the rest of Kensington and Chelsea that it was disclosed by a resident that Kingspan is being used at Barlby School, a school that was put forward as being a flag ship school for the borough including the much-needed SEN provision.”
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