MP calls for action to replace cladding on ‘unsafe’ Shefield tower block

Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield has called for Government action to make a tower block in the city safe for residents – and ensure those living in the building aren’t left to foot the bill.

Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 3:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 3:58 pm
William Martin who has concerns about the cladding on the Metis tower-block at the corner of West Bar and Scotland Street in Sheffield. Picture: Steve Ellis
William Martin who has concerns about the cladding on the Metis tower-block at the corner of West Bar and Scotland Street in Sheffield. Picture: Steve Ellis

The Star reported last week on the Metis building at West Bar after an inspection of cladding in 2017 found it to be unsafe – but almost two years on it remains in place.

Resident William Martin, aged 30, said leaseholders feared they might have to foot the bill themsselves due to a lack of legislation, prompting Mr Blomfield to raise the issue in a meeting in Westminster Hall earlier today.

William Martin who has concerns about the cladding on the Metis tower-block at the corner of West Bar and Scotland Street in Sheffield. Picture: Steve Ellis

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The Sheffield Central MP said: “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.

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“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.

William Martin who has concerns about the cladding on the Metis tower-block at the corner of West Bar and Scotland Street in Sheffield. Picture: Steve Ellis

“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.”

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.

Responding to Mr Blomfield, housing minister Kit Malthouse said the government were involved in ‘intense discussions’ to resolve situations such as the one at the Metis building.

He said: “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.”