Shabana Mahmood MP Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood
After months of delay, the remediation work to the unsafe cladding on Islington Gates finally got started, but these life-saving works are stalling because developers are continuing to dodge their responsibilities and are refusing to pay.
Despite the Government admitting this is “unjust and unfair” nothing has changed – so Shabana has written to the Secretary of State to ask what more they will do to help my constituents.
You can read Shabana’s letter to the Secretary of State below.
Dear Secretary of State,
I am writing to you following the Westminster Hall debate I held on 22 June 2022 on leaseholders, in which the former Minister for Housing, Stuart Andrew MP was the responding minister.
Mr Andrew was pragmatic in his remarks during the debate and stated his willingness to help my constituents who are impacted by the cladding scandal.
During the debate, I made specific mention of the Islington Gates development in my constituency, which has faced significant delays in building safety funding, and has received no funding from developers to cover the remaining costs that are ineligible for the Building Safety Fund.
There are 141 flats in the development at Islington Gates, which is now described as an orphan block. The remediation works at Islington Gates come in at a total of £9 million. 80% of that—£7.2 million—relates to the removal of the non-ACM cladding covering the building. The remaining 20%—£1.8 million—relates to additional defects that were discovered and revealed as a result of the scandal, including deficiencies in fire compartmentation and other measures.
The Building Safety Fund (BSF) is paying for all of the cladding remediation works, which commenced in March 2021. However, delays in BSF administration and the fact that a number of commercial leaseholders are withholding funding has led to serious cashflow concerns for the works. Recently, contractors threatened to pull out of the ongoing remediation works as they have not received payment. Your department and Homes England is providing advice, and there is a current proposal to extend the project timing to reduce monthly costs – with the planned conclusion of works extended from October 2022 to March 2023. Whilst I’m pleased the works are not set to stop completely, it is unacceptable that my constituents’ lives are impacted further because of issues beyond their control.
Regarding the non-cladding works, £1.8 million is needed to make Islington Gates safe and under the Building Safety Act the funding for this should come from the developer. Islington Gates’ original developer, Midlands and City Developments, went into liquidation in 2007, and Miller Construction, which built the block, was bought out by Galliford Try in 2014. As your department has made clear, the Government expect developers to take responsibility for any building developed by any company within their corporate group, including cases where they acquire the original developer of the building. That would mean that the £1.8 million liability for Islington Gates falls on Galliford Try, which bought Miller Construction, the original builders. I understand that in a meeting with some of my constituents, civil servants from your department confirmed that Galliford Try is the correct entity to pursue for the cost of those remediation works. Unfortunately, Galliford Try insists that it has no obligation to pay, and none of us have been able to do anything to persuade them otherwise.
During the debate in June, I was grateful to hear Mr Andrew acknowledge that that “the situation is unjust and unfair for leaseholders living in Islington Gates.”
Mr Andrew committed to working with me and the leaseholders at Islington Gates to resolve the issues they are having and suggested that they might be an early test case for some of aspects of the Building Safety Act designed to force developers into doing the right thing, such as remediation contribution orders.
I am aware that HM Courts and Tribunals Service recently published the forms for applying for Remediation Orders and Remediation Contribution Orders, and I welcome this. I would welcome advice from your department to my constituents about how they can use these Orders to hold Galliford Try to account, in this particularly complex case.
To continue the spirit of cooperation set by Mr Andrew and your department more widely, I would be grateful if you were able to meet with me to discuss this case in more detail, and what can be done to support those leaseholders.
I look forward to your response.
Shabana Mahmood MP
MP for Birmingham Ladywood