An Article Printed In The North Somerset Times Written By David Oyns
Strange. If a vehicle, household appliance or other item is found to be unsafe or defective it is much more likely than not recalled by the manufacturer and made safe at no cost to the owner. Indeed, even compensation may be paid to the customer. Why then is this not the case with flammable cladding on properties?
Television news on 28th January carried a report of a young woman forced to declare bankruptcy following steep increases in costs associated with a flat she had owned for a year. She had no control and was not given any details of the building design, materials used or other issues but bought in good faith. Her forced bankruptcy, due entirely to failures of others, will affect the rest of her life. This is intolerable, indefensible and totally unacceptable.
The manufacturer knew of its flammability, it would have had to have been signed off in building regulations, fire safety must have been considered and signed off. All relevant regulations appertaining to the application of such cladding was tragically found to be inadequate in the case of Grenfell.
Purchasers of affected properties were not advised of the potential dangers of such cladding. All agencies involved in the design, regulation and construction of affected buildings were, to a greater or lesser extent, responsible for the fitting of potentially unsafe cladding to those affected buildings and could have raised the issue but,, that said the aforementioned may have adhered to building regulations of the time.
Residents in buildings thought to be at risk bought their properties in good faith with every expectation that the construction was sound and materials safe. They should not be expected to foot the bill to replace unsafe construction materials installed by the builders and presumably approved by the developers and their technical departments at the design stage. A solution must be found to make the buildings safe if they are found not to be so.
It may be necessary for Government to provide funding initially but it is certainly not acceptable for the taxpayer to pick up this bill. It is the individuals who profited from those developments in which potentially unsafe materials were installed that should ultimately pay, though specifications drawn up by the building regulator of the time may lead culpability elsewhere.