Camden Council has submitted claims to recover costs from the contractor PFIC, who previously had responsibility for refurbishment and maintenance of the Chalcots Estate, under a private agreement with the council
The claims have been made against the Partners for Improvement in Camden (PFIC), Rydon Construction Ltd., Rydon Maintenance Ltd., Faithful + Gould Ltd. and United Living South Limited.
The claims seek to recover costs Camden Council has incurred as a result of it stepping in to address multiple fire safety failings at the Chalcots Estate and the related evacuation of its residents in June 2017.
The council is also making claims as they had to employ fire marshals and security staff during the evacuation, its repairs to make good inadequate internal fire stopping, inadequate fire doors and other serious defects inside the Chalcots Estate and the removal of combustible aluminium composite material cladding from the blocks’ outer façade.
A Camden Council spokesman said: “We were let down by PFIC, Rydon and other contractors. We should not have been put in a position where we were left with no option but to evacuate residents from their homes on a Friday night.
“Our absolute priority is the safety of our residents so, upon discovering serious deficiencies in the work and materials used by our contractors, we stepped in with new contractors, to complete works that would allow Chalcots residents to start to return safely to their homes within four weeks and, within six months, had fully removed cladding from the towers.
“In October 2018, we secured £80m from the government to fund the replacement of cladding on the Chalcots Estate. However, this only covers part of the costs and still leaves us with substantial losses that we are determined to recover.
“Today’s claims are submitted following two years’ examination of historical agreements, contractual responsibilities and works completed during the period in which we had a contractual relationship with PFIC.
“Following this review, we are clear about where responsibility lies for the range of fire safety defects at the Chalcots which led to the evacuation and its associated costs.”
Continuing work at Chalcots
While the claims are processed, work on the Chalcots Estate with principal contractor Wates will continue. Camden Council now has a more direct, accountable relationship at the Chalcots, with a strong focus on resident engagement.
The council has appointed a director of resident safety, the first in the UK, to transform its approach to fire safety. It has also set up a resident-led fire safety panel to ensure that tenants’ voices are at the centre of all it does.
It has also introduced enhanced fire risk assessments to ensure that issues are effectively recorded, processed and acted on and has published these online so they are available to the public.