Sheffield tower block resident helps form action group to get ‘unsafe cladding’ removed
A Sheffield tower block resident who lives in a building with similar cladding to Grenfell Tower has helped set up an action group to help get it changed.
William Martin, who lives in an apartment in the Metis Tower, West Bar, said an inspection of the building in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire found it to be unsafe.
But almost two years later it remains on the building and he said he has now joined forces with leaseholders in a similar situation to force action on this issue.
Mr Martin, aged 31, said: “Myself and two other leaseholders in London and Kent have got together and have set up an action group and it seems to have gone from nought to sixty since.
“The main aim was to get all 166 private residential buildings that still have Grenfell-style or non-compliant cladding on board.”
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.
The group – UK Cladding Action Group – are also working with residents in similar blocks in Manchester and met housing minister Kit Malthouse earlier this month to discuss the issue.
Mr Martin, a medical school student at the University of Sheffield, said: “We have made a lot of progress and the meeting was a huge step. What we are asking the government for is to fund the remediation works and to make sure it’s a grant and not a loan.”
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.
In a statement, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “There is nothing more important than making sure people are safe in their homes.
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“We have been abundantly clear that private building owners and developers must replace dangerous cladding quickly, or they will pay more later.
“Leaseholders must be protected from these costs which is why we have put new enforcement powers in place to allow local authorities to take action where it is necessary."
It added that it was supporting councils in taking emergency enforcement action where building owners refuse to remediate high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding.
Janet Sharpe, Sheffield Council's director of housing and neighbourhood services, said: “Metis is privately owned and fire safety measures, approved by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, have been put in place to make sure that residents are safe.
"We have advised the management company working on behalf of the owner that they can apply for government funding to pay for the cladding replacement works.
"This would mean that costs wouldn’t be passed on to people living in the building.
"We have raised this case with the government to see what else councils can do to help residents in situations like this one.”