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While welcomed, campaigners express unease over the lack of specific dates, highlighting concerns faced by residents since the 2017 Grenfell tragedy.
In a significant development, the Welsh government commits to addressing fire safety concerns in high-rise buildings, assuring residents that steps are being taken. Climate Change Minister Julie James, overseeing housing matters, underscores Wales' distinct commitment to rectify all fire-related issues, surpassing concerns limited to cladding.
Despite the assurance, the timeline for resolving these concerns remains uncertain. Minister James acknowledges the intricacies involved, pointing to challenges tied to supply chains, expert availability, and the unique features of individual buildings. A precise schedule and funding arrangement, she notes, may take up to three years to finalize.
In response to the announcement, the campaign group Welsh Cladiators, representing affected residents, welcomes the commitment but voices concerns about the absence of specific timelines. They note the minister's statement lacks concrete dates, suggesting a potential delay in tangible progress. The group underscores the daily challenges faced by thousands of private leaseholders awaiting resolutions for fire and building defects since the Grenfell tragedy.
In March, the Welsh government previously announced a legal agreement with major developers to address unsafe blocks. This initiative covers various scenarios, including "orphan" buildings, those over 30 years old, and projects involving smaller developers. Additionally, a Leaseholder Support Scheme is in place, allowing the Welsh government to take over the leasehold of affected properties.
As part of stricter regulations, Welsh ministers are introducing new standards and registration for building inspectors, limiting oversight of new high-risk buildings to local authority inspectors from April next year. This move, part of the Welsh Labour government's co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru, has been welcomed by campaigners.
However, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds calls for a more transparent and accountable system, akin to existing frameworks across the border. Residents have faced delays and costly bills during the repair process, highlighting the need for clear information and efficient progress tracking mechanisms.
While the Welsh government's commitment represents progress, challenges lie ahead, particularly in ensuring timely resolutions for affected residents. The need for transparency and accountability remains a crucial concern for campaigners and residents alike.
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21 February 2024
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