Council leader repeats pledge that Portsmouth will not foot bill for fire safety cladding work

Work starts to remove the cladding from Horatia House in June Picture: Sarah Standing (170831-4082)
Work starts to remove the cladding from Horatia House in June Picture: Sarah Standing (170831-4082)
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PORTSMOUTH residents will not pay for the removal of ‘fire risk’ cladding, the city council leader has said.

Councillor Donna Jones said while work is ongoing to remove cladding at two city high-rise buildings, it will not be residents who pay for it.

It comes as Portsmouth City Council continues talks with central government to assess the cost of the work at Leamington House and Horatia House in Somers Town, which started in June.

Cllr Jones said: ‘So far, we have written two letters to the Secretary of State for communities and local government Sajid David.

‘Negotiation is ongoing but we will get these costs funded.

‘I do not see why tenants of the city’s social housing should have to pay.’

Both buildings, the council boss maintains, are ‘extremely safe’.

She said: ‘24-hour fire marshalls are present at both of the two buildings and lots of technical work is ongoing.

‘None of the residents have taken up the council’s offer of being re-homed or re-situated.

‘However many residents have accepted free fire risk assessments and fire safety advice.’

The councillor’s message comes after some residents said work to remove the cladding is taking too long.

However, Cllr Jones says any so-called ‘delays’ at this stage are necessary to ensure the job is done safely – with more equipment being lined up for the removal, including scaffolding.

She said: ‘As far as I am concerned there have been no significant delays.

‘No other towers in the UK have finished re-cladding yet.

‘With towers which are eight storeys or above we have to get cherry pickers and more staff in place to be able to remove cladding.

‘We have had to find contractors that are capable of taking on such a large job.

‘We are one of the most forward and advanced councils in dealing with this situation.

‘I anticipate the city of Portsmouth will be one of the first in the UK to have this reinstated cladding.’