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Alarming fires in cladding hit Cardiff Bay building

07 Sep 2022 4 minute read
Fire engines at Victoria Wharf.

Bruce Sinclair

A building in Cardiff Bay affected by the building safety scandal in the wake of the Grenfell disaster has been rocked by two fires in the space of a month.

The Victoria Wharf development saw a fire at the weekend that spread between two balconies. 

In August, another balcony had set alight.

Although no-one was hurt in either incident and it is not yet clear whether the incidents are linked to faulty building materials, the fires have reignited concerns that action is not being taken fast enough.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have raised serious concerns.

Leader of Cardiff Liberal Democrats, Cllr Rhys Taylor has been campaigning over the last year for the Welsh Government to take faster and deeper action on the crisis.

He visited the site of the fire on Monday, September 5.

Rhys Taylor at Victoria Wharf.

“This is the second fire in the space of a month in a building in Cardiff Bay hit by the building safety scandal.

“Residents affected by this scandal, throughout Cardiff and more widely in Swansea and other places are scared, tired and frustrated with the lack of action by the Welsh Labour Government and from property developers.

“People are paying thousands upon thousands of pounds a year for a ‘waking watch’ making sure fires don’t break out in their buildings, living and sleeping in fear of the worst.

“They are having to pay for insurance that isn’t keeping them safe. Many of these buildings are only a few minutes walk away from the Senedd, yet there is a striking indifference and lack of urgency from the Welsh Government on this massive injustice.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are saying, alongside cladding and building safety campaigners, that developers have had long enough, it’s time Welsh Government stopped talking and take serious action to end this crisis.”

Janet Finch Saunders MS

Shadow Minister for Housing, Janet Finch-Saunders MS, has expressed her disgust that over five years on from the Grenfell tragedy, residents have been left living in fear in Wales.

“It is a total disgrace that the Labour Government have failed to make any substantive headway in securing remedial works from residential developers, whose buildings may have concerning fire and build defects.

“People across Wales are being left frightened and concerned for the safety of their property, themselves and their families.

“Earlier this year the UK Conservative Government introduced a New Building Safety Act, which marked a major step forward in protecting leaseholders.

“Meanwhile, all Labour can do is claim to be talking to developers, and pursuing provision of advice and surveys . This is not good enough when reports are being made of fires on Welsh towers.”

She added: “The Welsh Cladiators is a group that has for years been pushing for the Welsh Government to take this issue seriously and take positive action.

“Following an upcoming meeting I intend to raise even more concerns at every possible opportunity because it is truly shameful that five years on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy the Labour Government is still asleep at the wheel.

“If the UK Government can take steps to protect leaseholders and tenants across England then why can’t the Welsh Government do the same here?

“Labour need to get a grip of the situation and take steps to see these remedial works completed now”.

Safety investment

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We have been clear that leaseholders should not have to pay to rectify fire safety issues that are not of their making. We are investing £375m over the next three years to improve building safety.

“We have asked developers to sign a commitment to making good fire safety issues in buildings they developed in Wales over the last 30 years, which are 11m and over in height.

“Five developers have yet to engage with us on this very important matter. We are prepared to use all levers at our disposal, including legislation, to ensure they step up to their responsibilities.”

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