COMMENT: Government must act and get cladding removal funds released

They must have been so excited when they moved in. Flat owners at Gunwharf Quays thought they were buying into a dream waterside lifestyle, with shops, bars and restaurants close at hand.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 12:00 am

Instead, it has turned into a nightmare with residents of more than 300 flats now facing a combined £17.4m bill for work to remove fire-risk cladding.

Those in leasehold properties could end up liable for this enormous sum if their bid to access the government’s Building Safety Fund for cladding removal, set up after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, fails.

For more than a year, they have waited for a decision - and even if some money is eventually allocated, there is no guarantee that it will be the full amount.

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Leaving people hanging on like this, with a huge financial sword of Damacles over their heads, is totally unacceptable.

Manny Gatt and his wife Sylvia live in the Blue Building and face a possible £70,000 bill for the remediation work. For them and many others, the worry is constant.

It's not just the costs of getting rid of cladding, or the concern that they might be living in potential danger.

Their properties are effectively blighted all the while this goes on, while any work to remove it will turn the area into a building site for a long time.

As each day goes by, the residents are left in an awful limbo, feeling totally abandoned.

We agree with Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan when he says it is 'outrageous that residents are being faced with huge and unexpected bills to fix problems they did not create'.

This is what needs to happen. Instead of allowing the saga to drag on and on, the government must get funds released quickly and then go after developers involved to recover those costs at a later date.

The residents must not suffer any longer.