Portishead Marina residents fear bankruptcy over fire safety crisis involving cladding

Jill's flat is one of hundreds affected at Portishead Marina. Credit: ITV News

Residents caught up in the fire safety crisis at Portishead Marina say they fear going bankrupt and losing their life savings to fix issues with their homes.

At least six blocks of flats have been found to have fire safety issues exposed following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Jill Gray, who lives at Merchant Square, says she is worried she might have to payout tens of thousands of pounds as a result.

Jill said: "I'm retired I'm on a fixed income. I can't go to a bank and ask for £50,000. Ultimately it is shambolic what is going on. It is the uncertainty and the cost of everything."

A recent fire safety report at Merchant Square found issues with the timber cladding, EPS insulation, decking on the balconies, spandrel panels - all of which could increase the risk of fire spreading rapidly.

Sally Burton also owns a flat at Merchant Square. She says she fears she will be left with nothing.

"I could potentially be looking at bankruptcy. To live and work seven days a week all my life and get to the stage I am now. I feel let down. I have got a rare condition. I do struggle daily with pain and I do have a lot of bad days. Those bad days have gone from two or three a week to potentially five a week."

There are at least six sites at Portishead Marina affected by fire safety issues. Credit: ITV News

What does the Government say?

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We know many people are worried – which is why the Government is bringing forward the biggest improvements to building safety in 40 years through our Building Safety Bill and an unprecedented £5billion funding package to protect leaseholders from the cost of replacing unsafe cladding.

“This building’s application to the Building Safety Fund will be considered as quickly as possible.”

What does the management company say?

Remus Management manages Merchant Square.

It issued the following statement: "Cladding is a regrettable and distressing situation for the residents at Merchant Square as it is for all properties caught up in this unfortunate situation throughout the UK. With this building being over 18 meters it is progressing with the Building Safety Fund.

"As the Managing Agent - working on behalf of the Management Company, Remus has been in regular dialogue with both the developer and NHBC as well as its client at Merchant Square in relation to the cladding concerns to assist in achieving the best outcome for the leaseholders.

"The building has had a holistic review which confirms it is manageable in its current condition whilst remediation is progressed. Residents have been made aware of what they need to do to further reduce the risk, this included a Zoom call with owners several weeks ago. Actions have been taken in a timely manner by both the client and Remus and residents have been kept informed of progress to date, however, due to the nature of the situation there will be some foreseeable inconvenience which the project team will aim to keep to a minimum.

"As further enquiries and progress are made, residents will continue to be informed as instructed by our client. Understandably, recent communications have led to several enquiries from residents at one time, all of which will be responded to in due course."

What does the developer say?

Persimmon Homes developed Merchant Square. It said: "We recognise the difficult situation many leaseholders face. That is why in February we committed that on multi-storey buildings we constructed which contain banned cladding that needs removing, we would do what was necessary to keep residents safe. We don't believe that leaseholders should have to pay for banned cladding removal or any safety issues from the original development that now need addressing.

"We have carried out an initial review into the works required at Merchant Square and will liaise with the Management Company regarding our findings.

"We are determined to work with all relevant parties as promptly as possible in order to provide leaseholders in buildings constructed by us the assurances they deserve."