Grenfell contractor being sued over blocks with similar cladding

Camden council claiming £130m from Rydon and other firms for safety work on Chalcots estate

The contractor that refurbished Grenfell Tower is one of several firms being sued over works on five other tower blocks using similar cladding, because the government has allegedly not released enough money to cover the costs of making them safe.

Rydon, among other firms originally involved in the works at the Chalcots estate in Camden, north London, faces court claims totalling £130m to cover the costs of stripping combustible cladding, employing fire marshals and fixing inadequate internal fire stopping measures and fire doors. More than 1,000 people had to be evacuated from the blocks immediately after the June 2017 disaster for fear of a repeat catastrophe.

Central government has provided £80m to cover the costs of works after more than 1,000 residents of the council estate had to be evacuated in the days after the Grenfell fire, which claimed 72 lives. But that is not enough to make the buildings safe, according to the London borough of Camden.

If successful the action, being taken in the technology and construction court division in the high court in London, could pave the way for dozens of other councils and social landlords to sue builders and developers.

Of the 160 high-rise council blocks wrapped in similar aluminium composite cladding to that which spread the fire at Grenfell, 34 have been fixed and works are under way on a further 82. Works are yet to start on the remaining 44.

The government announced £400m to help fund the removal of dangerous cladding, but Camden’s move suggests that may not be enough.

The claim has been submitted against a private finance initiative consortium Partners for Improvement in Camden – currently in liquidation – as well as Rydon Construction, Rydon Maintenance, Faithful+Gould and United Living South.

“The PFI agreement for refurbishment and maintenance of the Chalcots estate was entered into in good faith and fundamental to this was our expectation that the Chalcots towers would be safe for our residents,” a council spokesman said.

“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.”

They continued: “The costs of the supporting residents during the evacuation and level of work required at the Chalcots made a major impact on our reserves. Clearly, it would not be right for residents and, by extension, the public purse, to foot the bill for what has been a private contractor failure.”

Rydon, Faithful+Gould and United Living South have been contacted for comment.


Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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