Grenfell contractor accused of safety failings on other local authority projects

  • Video report by ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills

The contractor which oversaw the installation of cladding at Grenfell Tower has been accused of carrying out "poor and sometimes dangerous" work on other local authority projects, ITV News has learned.

Building and maintenance company Rydon managed the installation of cladding on Grenfell as part of a major refurbishment to the west London tower in 2016.

As the spotlight falls on the companies linked to the deadly fire, it has emerged that the firm has also faced claims of inadequate work on other projects.

I spoke to a former Rydon manager who claims he witnessed poor performance on at least six local authority projects.

ITV News has obtained a fire risk assessment that Rydon carried out on a block of flats on an estate in Lambeth, south London in April 2014.

It is contracted to maintain them as part of a consortium called Regenter.

The assessment lists a series of "important" defects and concludes that Regenter should address them “within six months”.

But three years on independent fire safety inspector Steve McKenzie told ITV News many of the defects have not been fixed, including fire doors on all floors which he said did not meet safety requirements.

Rydon oversaw safety inspections at this Lambeth estate. Credit: ITV News

Other issues included fire safety signage that was inadequate and electrical sockets in the communal areas that remained unprotected.

Dr Stuart Hodkinson, a lecturer in Critical Urban Geography at Leeds University, said residents had faced a number of issues.

He told ITV News: "Residents have been complaining to Rydon about the standard of workmanship in their properties.

"When they've come home at night they've found floods, leaks; they've found electrical cables hanging loose. They've found their possessions were damaged or missing.

"In the homes that we surveyed and the residents we spoke to, there were issues in every property and they were major issues, they were not what we call snagging."

Rydon told ITV News it had "no responsibility or authority to implement any of its (fire assessment's) recommendations".

In a statement, Regenter, the consortium of which Rydon is a part, admitted the defects "should have been addressed much quicker than they were".

They added that "all defects are now resolved."

Safety inspector Steve McKenzie points out safety issues. Credit: ITV News

In the London Borough of Sutton, poor performance cost Rydon an entire project.

In 2013 Sutton Housing Partnership hired Rydon to carry out repairs and maintain the council’s 6,000 properties.

But a year later Sutton tore up the contract arguing Rydon was failing to meet "minimum acceptable performance" standards.

Rydon took legal action and the dispute is ongoing.

Rydon was removed from a project in Sutton for 'poor performance'. Credit: ITV News

The former Rydon manager told ITV News that the tension in that relationship was typical of what he saw.

"With high value contracts it's normal for there to be tension between the client and the contractor," he said.

"Nothing ever runs 100% smoothly but you resolve issues amicably.

"I've never seen client and resident dissatisfaction on this scale."

Rydon rejected the claims that it carried out unsafe work. Credit: ITV News

Rydon said it is "shocked by the allegations" of its former employee and it does "not believe them to be true".

In a statement it said "Safety and quality is integral to everything we do", adding that it continues to deliver to key targets in each of its contracts.

Rydon insists the work it did at Grenfell Tower met the required standard and was signed-off by the council.

The Metropolitan Police says the cladding system "failed all safety tests" and its investigation into the fire continues.