- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
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MIKE HEDGES QUESTIONS MINISTERS ON BUILDING SAFETY REGULATIONS
Speaking from the Senedd, local Swansea East MS Mike Hedges said…. ‘It is important that there is clarity for people living in buildings which have been affected by the cladding issues; people contact me unable to rest easy at night and many are not able to sell their homes because of the uncertainty about who will meet the cost of work necessary to make to building safe. I am pleased that there is support from the Welsh Government for people stuck in this horrendous situation.
I am pleased that the Welsh Government acknowledges that Lease holders should not have to foot the bill.’
I very much welcome the statement. I and my constituents are also disappointed the UK Government chose to pursue its building safety pledges on an England-only basis. Didn’t we used to have a lot of LCMs from them? I have two areas of my constituency that have buildings affected. I agree with the principle that developers should contribute towards the cost of fixing these problems—they were the ones who created these problems in the first place. I’d go further and say I believe that the developers should fully fund remediation. Unfortunately, in Swansea East, there are buildings built by Carillion, which has gone out of business. Who is going to fund putting these buildings right? I’m also told that other buildings were built by a single purpose vehicle that now no longer exists. I welcome the £375 million to cover the cost of remediating buildings. You state publicly that leaseholders should not foot the bill for fire safety, which I’m sure they’ll be very pleased to hear. How far will that sum go to remedying the fire safety problems? Finally, is this not another reason for bringing in a new set of building controls and an end to leasehold?212
Thank you, Mike. You know I’ve met with a number of the residents and yourself in the buildings affected in your constituency, and we’re very anxious that those residents who’ve done the right thing are properly looked after in this scheme as well, so that’s yet another complexity. You highlight the problem of the multiplicity of different arrangements. There is one building in my own constituency that you’re very familiar with where absolutely everybody has gone bankrupt, including the designer, three lots of developers, the insurance companies—it’s just an absolute disaster. And that’s why we have to have a backstop for those people, because if we were relying on developers to do that, there is no such entity left in order to take that on. That’s why the Welsh Government is prepared to put public money into doing it, because for some people there isn’t anyone. 213
The complexities of the single purpose vehicle building company that bears the name of a large corporation on it but actually, legally, is a separate company is one of the biggest issues that we’ve had to face. Rhys, I think, mentioned trying to stop people having further contracts and so on, but when you go into the legals of it, they’re not the same company, and that’s proved a real problem. So, we rely on the UK Government to change some of the law that isn’t devolved to Wales around protections in those circumstances, in the Building Safety Act 2022 and other areas, so that we can do that. And we will be looking to improve the way that we enable people to apply and execute planning consent—sorry, I’m talking to two different people now here. Basically, what we’re saying is a duplicate of what the English Government is looking at, which is to stop people being able to take advantage of a planning consent they already have if they have unremediated buildings bearing their corporate name. But it’s more complicated than just saying, ‘This company can’t do it’, because there is a multiplicity of them.214
So, I agree with all of that. I completely agree with the reform of leasehold, but as I said to Rhys, one of the things we have to do now is learn from the Scottish experience, because we had been very attracted to that, but actually they’ve had a number of problems with that system as well.215
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