Government to pay for Grenfell Tower-type cladding on Sheffield tower block to be replaced

A Sheffield tower block resident says he will sleep slightly easier after the Government announced it would foot the bill to replace Grenfell Tower-type cladding on his building.

Wednesday, 15th May 2019, 2:10 pm
William Martin, pictured outside the Metis Tower. Picture: Steve Ellis

William Martin, who lives in an apartment in the Metis Tower, West Bar, clubbed together with residents from across the country to set up the UK Cladding Action Group.

And after several meetings between campaigners and ministers, housing secretary James Brokenshire said the Government would set up a £200 million fund.

William Martin, pictured outside the Metis Tower. Picture: Steve Ellis

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Mr Martin, aged 31, said: “From my perspective, it’s really good news and I am delighted but it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that the funding is not enough.

“166 private residential buildings still have aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding – the same type used on Grenfell Tower – which will cost between £2 million and £5 million each to replace so there are concerns as to whether it is adequate.”

Mr Martin said people living in the 113 flats in the tower on the corner of West Bar and Scotland Street had told him they were worried about the safety of the building as well as the possible bill of up to £40,000 each leaseholder would be left with.

A total of 72 people were killed in the blaze at Grenfell, with the fire believed to have been started by a faulty fridge-freezer and then spreading in the cladding of the building.

The group – UK Cladding Action Group – also included residents in Manchester and held a series of meetings with housing minister Kit Malthouse to discuss the issue.

Mr Martin, a medical school student at the University of Sheffield, said: “I can sleep a little easier and people have been congratulating me. Obviously, it makes me so much more at ease knowing that I might not be asked to pay £20,000 but I still can’t sell my property or remortgage.

“I’m effectively a mortgage prisoner because I am paying four times as much because I am on a variable rate.”

Mr Martin said the government had told the group that building owners would have to ‘apply’ to have the cladding replaced within a three-month time period.

He added: “Every night I do still go to bed in a building that’s got the same cladding on Grenfell so, in a way, my feelings are still the same as they were before the announcement.”

Mr Brokenshire admitted he had changed his mind on demanding that freeholders pay up for safety work.

He said some building owners had tried to pass on the costs to residents by threatening them with bills running to thousands of pounds.

The housing secretary said: "What has been striking to me over recent weeks is just the time it is taking and my concern over the leaseholders themselves - that anxiety, that stress, that strain, and seeing that we are getting on and making these buildings safe.”