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Camden Council ‘prepare to sue’ sub-contractors who refurbished Chalcots estate

The Town Hall said they are seeking to "recover costs" of fire safety works

25 October, 2018 — By William McLennan

The government has given £80million to remove and replace cladding

CAMDEN Council is preparing to sue the companies that carried out the ill-fated refurbishment of the Chalcots estate, it can be revealed.

The Town Hall said last night that in an attempt to “recover costs” it is set to begin legal action against sub-contractors responsible for installing the cladding, which has been removed after failing safety tests in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

News of legal action led to fears that a full review of the failings that caused the evacuation of the estate may never be heard in public.

The New Journal can also reveal that the government will pay £80million to cover the costs of removing and reinstalling the estate’s cladding and “curtain walling” – a metal structure to which windows are attached.

The figure amounts to nearly a third of the £248million doled out to 43 social housing providers across the country.

About 3,000 people spent a month out of their homes on the estate in Adelaide Road in June 2017 while urgent fire safety work took place.

The operation was triggered after fire brigade inspectors found a number of internal defects, including faulty fire doors and an absence of “fire stopping”, during a thorough probe carried out after the high-rise blocks were found to be wrapped in plastic-filled, flammable cladding.

Partners for Improvement in Camden (PFIC) won a £150million private finance initiative contract to refurbish and maintain the estate in 2006. It appointed Rydon as the lead contractor; it in turn hired other firms to carry out key jobs.

Camden Council stopped paying PFIC at the end of last year, leading the company to enter liquidation in May.

Council leader Georgia Gould said: “The PFI has let us all down. In the next few weeks we will, in accordance with the terms of the contract, be taking the final steps in terminating the PFI agreement.

“We will be beginning the process of taking legal action against sub-contractors to recover the costs we have already spent.

“We are clear that our residents have been let down and we will be taking steps to hold the parties responsible to recover our losses.”

Highgate councillor and Green Party co-leader Sian Berry said she feared that Camden would “get into a legal discussion, then settle and everything will be sealed up for ever in a non-disclosure agreement”.

“Not only do we need to get our money back but we need to hold the decision-makers who got us into this mess account- able,” she added.

Belsize Lib Dem councillor Luisa Porritt said: “The council must learn lessons from what went wrong in the past. Residents are keen to receive answers to questions they have been asking for a long time.”

Rydon had not responded to requests to comment last night.

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