Lib Dem London Assembly Member Hina Bokhari came to visit Bromley and met Northpoint resident Ritu Saha, co-founder of the UK Cladding Action Group.
While there has been progress in removing the cladding from Northpoint there are still issues to resolve and residents are still many hundreds of thousands of pounds out of pocket. And there are buildings in Bromley with dangerous cladding where remediation work hasn't even started yet.
Hina has backed the Northpoint Rresidents' calls for financial compensation from Bromley Council for their errors during the conversion from an office block, she is backing the group's call for the government to underwrite the work currently being carried out by contractors who can't get insurance and is asking the London Fire Brigade to re-examine the data upon which they base demands for a "waking watch" in buildings like Northpoint.
You can see the video of Hina and Ritu's conversation here.
While the government fund has covered the cost of removing the cladding and some of the remedial works needed once the cladding was removed, the residents are still facing the cost of the ongoing waking watch and a new fire alarm. Ritu is asking the London Fire Brigade to revisit their decision to automatically insist on waking watches when multi storey buildings are identified with fire risks - she explains that data shows that fires do not start in common parts like hallways where waking watches operate so putting in waking watches is pointless and drains residents of thousands of pounds.
Government funds are being used for the cladding removal and remediation works but Ritu revealed that contractors carrying out the work do not have insurance to cover the work being done. This is an issue caused by British insurers refusing to cover cladding and fire safety work with professional indemnity cover, meaning that the work carried out - and paid for out of public funds - is not covered in the event of subsequent issues. Ritu is calling for the government to step in and become the "insurer of last resort" so that residents are not exposed to even more financial risk.
Northpoint was converted from an office block in 2000 and the building was signed off as safe by Bromley Council but in fact - now that the cladding has been removed - it's now clear that essential cavity barriers weren't installed, meaning more considerable expenditure to make the building safe. Ritu and the Northpoint residents are asking Bromley Council to share the cost of the waking watch by way of compensation for their mistakes when the building was converted.
Even with the funding from the Government fund, each resident has had to find £12,000 to cover the additional works, and face an ongoing increase in their service charges and insurance costs.