Portsmouth council could borrow millions for cladding replacement works

Cladding being removed from Horatia House and Leamington House
  • Council could borrow £10.9m for cladding works on Somers Town towers
  • Government cap on local government borrowing would need to be lifted

A COUNCIL could be forced to borrow millions of pounds in order to carry out the removal and replacing of cladding on two tower blocks.

Officers on Portsmouth City Council last night admitted that it may not be able to rely on government funds to replace the ‘fire risk’ cladding on Leamington House and Horatia House in Somers Town.

We have discussed some possibilities and a suggestion is that we could lift the borrowing cap in order to get funds [for the works].

Portsmouth City Council housing officer

It was revealed during a council meeting that an option being explored in the discussions between the council and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is for the authority to borrow the £10.9m needed to carry out the works.

This would involve a cap on the amount the council can borrow from central government being lifted.

The authority’s leader, Councillor Donna Jones, has previously reiterated her confidence that the DCLG would fund the costs.

Last night’s revelation came as Councillor Tom Wood, opposition spokesperson for housing, probed housing officers on the negotiations.

He said: ‘I am concerned about the funding from the DCLG and I want to hear positive noises about this. There are rumours that the borrowing cap could be lifted to pay for this? Can you give an update?’

To which the officer replied: ‘We are still in ongoing dialogue with the DCLG over the cladding.

‘We have not got anything finalised yet but we are working towards it. We have discussed some possibilities and a suggestion is that we could lift the borrowing cap in order to get funds [for the works].’

Removal of the cladding started in June after it was found to be a risk following extensive tests.

The council is estimating that the works will not be complete until next February.

A total of 600 residents live in the blocks – who are protected by 24 hour fire marshals.

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