The motion was introduced by Robert Evans who made the following key points:
· Thanked the Leader for writing to the Secretary of State and copying him into the letter.
· Since the Grenfell Tower disaster many questions have been asked about similar properties in Surrey. Therefore an audit and consultation to establish the potential scope of the cladding, EWS1 and snagging issues of all habitable buildings should be carried out. Buildings where an EWS1 form is not being granted are causing issues for owners selling or renting their properties. This was the situation in West Plaza by Ashford Hospital where there were around 150 properties which owners were having difficulties in selling because mortgage lenders will not lend against the property.
· Current estimates to put right all the defects in similar properties across the country would cost between £15-16 billion, in comparison, current estimates for the cost of the government COVID measures announced so far range from £315-410 billion.
· This was a very serious matter that impacted more properties in Surrey than people realised. It was difficult to express in words the heartbreak, anxiety torment and utter despair that this situation has caused to those who affected and it was only right for the council to take a lead and to be at the forefront of any campaign to support our people and push the government.
The motion was seconded by Jonathan Essex who made the following key points:
· Concern about buildings in Surrey is more widespread than we have been led to believe.
· All homes and buildings should be checked and should be made safe as quickly as possible. The councillor was aware of buildings in Redhill comprising of 3-4 storey block of flats where faults were spotted and remedied by the developer who paid for the full cost of works.
The Cabinet Member for Community Protection responded to the points raised by the motion proposer and seconder stating that the fire and rescue service works closely with all partners with the aim of keeping our residents and visitors safe and well. Through the building risk review programme, the fire service had visited the majority of the high rise residential buildings highlighted by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government and those identified locally by the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service. These totalled 97. Surrey Fire and Rescue Service works with the National Chief Council to support the Grenfell Tower inquiry recommendations. As part of that they have consistently called for improvements to building regulations as provided input to a number of key reviews and consultations across the industry and the government, which will form the basis of an improved building safety system.
The Cabinet Member explained that EWS1 forms were not a statutory requirement and not all premises will require one. With regards to asking the boroughs and districts, in conjunction with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service to perform an audit and consultation to establish the potential scope of the cladding, EWS1 and snagging issues of all habitable buildings this was a matter for the district and boroughs to decide.
The Leader explained that some of the biggest challenges lay in the fact that building regulations were responsibility of the district and boroughs and not the county council. The Leader would be happy to raise the issue with the Chairman of the relevant Select Committee and discuss a potential public hearing around cladding in Surrey buildings . The Leader agreed to raise the issue with the other Surrey MPs and the Surrey Leaders Group meeting.
At the County Council meeting on 12 October 2021, Robert Evans moved a motion under Standing Order 11. It was agreed for the motion to be referred to Cabinet for consideration. The motion called on the leadership to support all those in Surrey affected by this scandal and to resolve to:
I. Formally raise the issue with H M government through Mr Gove and the County’s other MPs.
II. Support other local authorities and the LGA’s initiatives with the government in exploring ways in which local councils can be empowered to support their residents and ensure building regulations are complied with, or retrospectively repaired, at no cost to the leaseholder.
III. Ask the boroughs and districts, in conjunction with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service as a matter of urgency and if they have not already done so, to perform an audit and consultation to establish the potential scope of the cladding, EWS1 and snagging issues of all habitable buildings.
IV. Urge the County’s boroughs and districts to explore ways to delay approving planning applications where the applicant has outstanding snagging or EWS1 certification issues and include a condition to be discharged on all future planning applications to provide an EWS1 form before first occupation.
V. Sign Surrey County Council up to the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign.
Recommendations I-III were supported by the Cabinet.