The recent HMG announcement that a £30m fund has been set up to provide support for waking watch costs for buildings with external cladding issues and no AFD provision seems on the face of it to be great news, however scratch at this a little and you can see that whilst it is welcome it is little more than a token gesture.
With almost 500 sites in London alone needing waking watch support and the monthly cost of this service on most sites running into the tens of thousands of pounds so it is east to see a cost per site over 12 months being over £100k the £30m all of a sudden doesn’t look so big after all.
Local authorities have done some work and some are very pro-active – however the private sector is where 85% of these sites sit.
The time being taken by some clients and their management partners to actually decide what to do and who pays for it is concerning as they spend months playing pass the parcel with the problem preying for the music to stop when its in someone else’s lap is a game of Russian Roulette with the residents.
Regardless of if its L5 and a managed plan or an L2 within the common areas, and a P6 link, these sites need a plan and a momentum to get things done quickly in a few months at most not years.
Yes there are issues and limitations in the resource available for the assessment, evaluation and removal of the cladding where it is required is difficult and time consuming due to a lack of the skilled expert professionals required BUT, we cannot just talk about talking about it.
Clearly there are issues with previous due diligence when some of these freeholds have been purchased, and both the Grenfell enquiry and the Hackitt report will change the future landscape for new builds, however the hundreds of pre-existing sites where these issues are a clear and present danger to the residents.
So this is a clarion call to the freeholders and their agents, get on and make a decision, there is more at stake than a directors dividend or a point or two in share price, If there is another Grenfell type fire those involved who have been guilty of an abdication of responsibility will be publicly castigated and this time there will be no hiding place.