The Grenfell Tower landlord held a secret meeting to cut refurbishment costs – including discussing the switch to cheaper cladding – despite being warned by lawyers that it would break procurement law.
David Gibson, head of capital investment at the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), which operated the council tower block for its owner, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, organised a “secret” and “offline” meeting with the contractor Rydon in which they agreed more than £800,000 in savings.
Rydon subsequently agreed to drop landscaping works, cut the cost of windows, and switch more expensive zinc cladding panels for the aluminium alternatives which became the main cause of the spread of the June 2017 fire that claimed 72 lives. Rydon had already quoted a price cheaper than two rival bids and £800,000 less than estimated by the landlord’s own advisers. But the inquiry heard the landlord still wanted increase savings before awarding the contract. Neither the architect nor the landlords’ construction advisers were told about the meeting.