A court heard allegations that an Ipswich property management company misrepresented the flammability of cladding on a residential building, leading to invalid fire risk assessments.

31 May 2024

A court has been informed that misleading statements were made regarding the flammability of cladding on an Ipswich apartment block.

Edward Ottley, the property director at Home from Home Property Management, is facing trial for purportedly failing to adhere to fire safety regulations.

During Thursday's proceedings, a fire risk assessment expert testified that he was falsely assured by a representative of Home from Home Property Management that the cladding on the Ipaxis building on Wolsey Street had passed flammability tests, despite the fact it had failed.

Graham Joy, the director of a fire risk assessment company, accused Stuart Scott, the representative from Home from Home overseeing the building, of being dishonest about the cladding's flammability, which was actually “highly flammable”.

Mr Joy was contracted to assess the building in December 2017. However, he stated that Mr Scott did not disclose the July test results from the Building Research Establishment, which identified the cladding as a “category three failure”. 

According to Mr Joy, Mr Scott claimed that a company was still testing the material and that the results were not yet available. Mr Joy reported that he repeatedly asked Mr Scott for the results, but was told they were still pending. Consequently, he based two risk assessments on Mr Scott’s assurance that the cladding had passed.

The court was told that the results were actually received on 15th January 2018, but Mr Joy was not made aware of them until 23rd April 2019. Mr Joy recounted: “I remember it well. I was with Mr Scott, driving through Ipswich. We had a conversation about the cladding test results, and I still hadn’t received them. He told me the test had failed. I said, ‘but you told me they had passed’."

Mr Joy expressed his anger and astonishment, stating he was "very, very cross". He subsequently informed the company that his risk assessments were invalid, ceased communication, and urged them to address the issue.

Representing himself, Mr Ottley suggested that Mr Joy should have directly contacted the testing company or the Building Research Establishment for verification, instead of relying solely on Mr Scott’s statements. Mr Joy countered that it would have been "unprofessional" to seek this information without the company's consent.

The trial continues at Colchester Magistrates' Court.

View the SOURCE here.

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