Action demanded over ‘unsafe’ Sheffield cladding

Action demanded over ‘unsafe’ Sheffield cladding

SHEFFIELD MP Paul Blomfield has called on the government to take action over a city high rise, which has combustible cladding that has not yet been removed since its discovery in 2017.

The Star reported on the call from Mr Blomfield to make the Metis block ‘safe for residents’ while at the same time ensuring that they ‘aren’t left to foot the bill’. The building saw its cladding undergo the government’s fire safety tests in 2017, which found the materials to be ‘unsafe’, but nearly two years later ‘it remains in place’, and leaseholders fear they might ‘have to foot the bill’ for removal and replacement.

At a meeting at Westminster Hall yesterday, which saw a debate on sprinklers alongside other fire safety issues including cladding, Mr Blomfield stated: ‘A company called HomeGround represents the freeholder, Adriatic, and says that it is not the landlord and is therefore not responsible. It points fingers at the property management company, Fairways, which says that it is awaiting legal clarification on who is responsible.

‘The suggestion is that the responsibility for the re-cladding will fall on those who own the flats, who face individual bills of upwards of £20,000 each That is a disgrace—the residents cannot afford those sums. William says that he cannot get rid of the property or move on when he wants to, and that frankly, he feels trapped in a prison. That is not acceptable.’

He added: ‘If someone buys a dishwasher that is found to be faulty because of a fire risk, we put safety first: the product is recalled and the manufacturer takes responsibility. If that is good enough for domestic products, why is it not good enough for the homes that house them? I recognise that some developers and freeholders accept responsibility, but others do not. The government must act.

‘We need first to make the building safe, and we need to make sure that the individual residents who own the flats do not foot the bill. The government should hold the developers and freeholders to account. If the law is not currently up to the task, we need to change it. I hope that the minister will outline what action the government will take in that respect.’

In response, Housing Minister Kit Malthouse stated that the government was in ‘intense discussions’ to resolve situations such as that at the Metis building, commenting: ‘I have said that if local authorities assess that there is a category one hazard and a threat to life in a building, they have the power to enter that building, do the necessary work and we will support them financially in doing so.

‘In the final analysis that can be the result, but we are considering what action we can take in the circumstances that my right honourable friend raises. I would like to reassure everybody that the Secretary of State and I, as well as senior officials, are engaged in serious and intense discussions with building owners to try and resolve these situations.’