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Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 18:25 GMT 19:25 UK

UK Politics

Tower block fire safety fears

The block of flats where the disabled man died

A council has ordered the removal of certain building materials from all its properties after a tower block fire in which an elderly disabled man died.

North Ayrshire Council says it has ordered the removal of plastic cladding and PVC window frames as a precaution "at whatever cost".

Alexander Linton, 55, died on Friday when fire swept through a 14-storey block of flats in Irvine.

Chief Executive Bernard Devine: "Tenants' safety is our foremost concern"
A turntable ladder was used to rescue four adults and a 15-month-old child. Eyewitnesses said the tower block ignited like matchwood, prompting concerns about materials used in the construction.

Strathclyde Fire Brigade is continuing its investigation into the cause of the blaze.

The council is commissioning independent consultants to investigate the safety of the building materials used in the construction of the flats.

Chief Executive Bernard Devine said it had now ordered the removal of the materials and the introduction of 24-hour security at its flats.

"We've put on 24-hour security and taken the decision, at whatever cost, to remove the cladding and put other cladding in its place."

[ image: Brian Donohoe: Welcomed investigation]
Brian Donohoe: Welcomed investigation
Mr Devine stressed the council was taking the steps to allay concerns of tenants and said it had not been established that the cladding was to blame for the fatal fire.

But he said the council could not wait for the results of the fire brigade investigation and its own research findings.

"We've not got time to wait for that to come through, we've had to act and we've acted today in order to reassure tenants that their safety is our foremost concern.

"We will take action even if it turns out to be wrong and it may very well be."

MPs on the Commons Environment Sub-Committee have asked for an investigation into the use of certain building materials in tower blocks following Mr Linton's death.

Brian Donohoe MP: "If there is a risk it's got to be dealt with"
They want to know if there have been similar fire incidents in other high-rise buildings.

Welcoming the move, Cunninghame South MP Brian Donohoe said: "Clearly on the basis of the evidence that I saw at first hand it would give the impression that there is something quite wrong in the use of this cladding.

"But it's far too early to speculate and I wouldn't want to raise fears in anybody's minds in terms of the use of this cladding and whether or not it's dangerous."

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