Sir Peter Bottomley urged government to hold a public meeting and call in Vincent Tchenguiz, William Waldorf Astor and the offshore owners of residential freeholders to resolve the Grenfell cladding issue.
He told Communities Secretary Said Javid: “This week saw the first proper tribunal decision, regarding Citiscape in Croydon, which is owned by the Tchenguiz interests.
“Ordinary taxpaying residents there are being asked to pay tens of thousands of pounds, and the same thing is happening at New Capital Quay in Greenwich, Heysmoor Heights in Liverpool, and in another 129 blocks that I could name.
“May I put it to my right hon. Friend that he ought to get together the Tchenguiz interests, William Waldorf Astor’s Long Harbour and Abacus interests, the builders, the leaseholders and their representatives in order to have a roundtable in the open?
“Instead of waiting two years until an inquiry is done, it is time to get these people together and talk about a simple deal whereby, for example, the builders put up a third, the freeholders put up a third and the Government/tenants put up a third to get the cladding removed and replaced.”
Full debate here:
Hansard (the Official Report) is the edited verbatim report of proceedings of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Daily Debates from Hansard are published on this website the next working day.
Mr Javid said that he and his leasehold team were scrutinising the Citiscape ruling, whereby the house builder Barratt and freehold owner, Proxima GR Properties ultimately owned by the Tchenguiz Family Trust based in the British Virgin Islands, pay nothing to remove the cladding.
The bill lands on the lap of leaseholders, some of whom only bought their properties a few weeks before the Grenfell cladding was discovered.
Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool, Riverside, raised the case of Heysmoor Heights in Liverpool, where leaseholders face bills of £18,000 each to replace the Grnefell cladding.
“The original development company was dissolved four years ago, and the current owner is Guernsey-based Abacus Land 4 Ltd. It is still not known whether an insurance policy apparently taken out by the original developers will raise any funds at all to meet those costs.
“Leaseholders keep being told that they will be given an answer, but they have not had one yet. The Secretary of State keeps expressing some kind of sympathy for leaseholders caught in this situation, but what else can he do to help leaseholders in general and my constituents at Heysmoor Heights in Liverpool?”
In the debate, Mr Javid reiterated that “whatever the legal situation might be, the private owners of buildings should take their lead from the public sector and take responsibility for the additional costs. They might want to look at insurance claims, warranties and legal action that they may be able to take.”
And he added: “I also want to ensure that leaseholders get the advice that they need, which is why we have increased funding to the Leasehold Advisory Service.”
– LKP got Legal & General to commit to paying £10 million to remove cladding at the Blenheim Centre / Reflexion. NOT the Leasehold Advisory Service.
– LKP ensured that the New Capital Quay site – where Galliard, the developer and freeholder, and the NHBC are passing the buck over liability – came into the public domain. NOT the Leasehold Advisory Service.
– LKP publicised the Heysmoor Heights cladding misery, where ordinary families face losing their homes to Abacus Land 4 Limited, a Guernsey-based entity that hides the ultimate beneficial ownership of the freehold. NOT the Leasehold Advisory Service.
– Martin Boyd, LKP trustee, has spent many hours advising leaseholders across the country over the strategies involved in dealing with Grenfell cladding issues. NOT the Leasehold Advisory Service.
– Martin Boyd advised the leaseholders at Croydon’s Citiscape before their recent tribunal action. NOT the Leasehold Advisory Service (although it did finally meet the leaseholders FOUR DAYS before their tribunal hearing.
The Leasehold Advisory Service’s actions on this – as so often in the past when it comes to the interests of leaseholders – has been feeble, tardy or tokenistic.
It is worth recalling that Gavin Barwell, when housing minister (he is now chief of staff at Number 10) had to remind the Leasehold Advisory Service last year that it must serve the interests of leaseholders:
Housing minister says LEASE must be on the side of leaseholders, and promises more money
Read Hansard and am struck by the fact that Javid does not want a roundtable discussion. Too embarrassing for the the government.
Sir Ken Knight the former chief fire officer also worked for Warrington Certification and apparently signed off fire resistant versions of Grenfell cladding including Reynobond FR.
Unconscious biased at best.
Everyone knows establishing liability is the devil’s own work but Javid is calling on Tcheguiz’s good nature to pay for replacement cladding. Javid and the DCLG must be laughing to themselves when they keep up this sort of banter.
The government is as much to blame because they still defend the current legislation and will do anything to appease the vested interests of developers and other professional investors even if the taxpayer ends up paying.
I’ll eat my hat if there is ever a roundtable discussion of substance but well done to APPG for asking and well done LKP for leading the fight for justice.