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Grenfell Tower cladding found on Scots student halls

Edinburgh Napier University now removing the panels from the halls of residence.

Halls: Residents not being evacuated.
Halls: Residents not being evacuated. Edinburgh Napier University

The same cladding used in the Grenfell Tower block has been found on student halls of residence in Edinburgh.

Bainfield Halls in Fountainbridge, which house students from Edinburgh Napier University, contain the "wood effect" exterior cladding linked to the blaze that killed at least 79 people in London, inspectors found.

Contractors are now removing the cladding from the exterior of the halls.

The material used was Reynobond PE, the same cladding blamed for the rapid spread of the fire which destroyed Grenfell Tower on June 14.

Bainfield halls of residence are believed to be the first building in Scotland in which the cladding has been found in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Around 30 students are currently living in the halls, though that number is due to rise by 200 as summer schools arrive at the weekend. During term time, more than 700 students use the building.

Residents are not being evacuated and work to remove the cladding is expected to take four weeks.

On Monday, the company which manufactures Reynobond PE pulled it from sale worldwide.

'This news will come as a great shock to the students in Bainfield and the wider community.'
Gavin Corbett, local councillor

An Edinburgh Napier University spokesman said: "Following the Grenfell Tower fire in London, we immediately began a review of all our buildings.

"A physical inspection identified that around a quarter of the exterior walls on one of our buildings - Bainfield Halls of residence - featured the same cladding reportedly used at Grenfell.

"The insulation materials behind the Bainfield cladding panels are non-combustible, the panel hangings are all made of metal, the wall cavities are properly fire-stopped and the buildings are fitted with sprinklers.

"There are also a range of other fire-safety measures in place, including each block having its own exit route, a modern fire alarm and smoke detection system that is tested weekly, and 24-hour on-site security."

He continued: "Work has already begun to remove and replace the cladding as a precautionary measure, and we are working closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to ensure it is safe to continue to use the building as normal.

"Residents are not being evacuated."

The university said it had written to halls residents and a meeting will be held to discuss the issue next week.

Bainfield Halls are owned by Standard Life but the university has a long-term repairing and insuring lease.

A spokesman for Universities Scotland said: "Universities across Scotland are working to reassess the over-cladding of their building facades to ensure they meet the highest standards of fire safety. 

"Universities will be in close contact with the Scottish Government, the relevant authorities and the network of university estates directors across the country to share best practice throughout this process."

'It is important that the cladding is replaced as quickly and safely as possible to ensure the safety of the building's residents.'
Edinburgh Southern MSP Daniel Johnson

A fire service spokeswoman said: "We have been in close contact with the university's fire safety adviser and our own fire safety enforcement officers will today (Tuesday, 27 June) carry out a full and thorough audit of the building.

"Firefighters will also be available to provide reassurance to residents, staff and the wider community."

Local councillor Gavin Corbett said residents would be shocked at the discovery.

He said: "Almost as soon as the Grenfell tragedy happened I had local queries about the cladding used on the buildings at Bainfield. But this news will come as a great shock to the students in Bainfield and the wider community.

"It's obviously vital that the cladding is replaced urgently and that all fire safety and prevention steps are taken in the meantime.

"While the fire service advice appears to be that there is no need to evacuate, if there is even a sliver of doubt I believe the university must offer alternative accommodation for those students directly affected."

Edinburgh Southern MSP Daniel Johnson said: "Following the tragedy in London, it is very concerning to hear the news that Bainfield Halls in Fountainbridge are clad with the same material as Grenfell Tower.

"It is important that the cladding is replaced as quickly and safely as possible to ensure the safety of the building's residents.

"It is vital that colleges and university principals across the country take note, and ensure that appropriate checks have been made at each and every campus building."

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