Cladding scandal: Homeowners gather in Bristol to plead for government support

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Homeowners facing huge bills to make their buildings safe following the Grenfell fire tragedy have applied fresh pressure on the Government to resolve the crisis.

Speaking at a rally in Bristol, some warned they'll be made bankrupt if they're forced to pay rather than the building's developers.

Steph Pike paid just under £200,000 for her central Bristol apartment four years ago but last November was told correcting the building's serious safety defects could cost her a further £70,000.

"It really is unbelievable, the fact that I bought after Grenfell," said the solicitor. "I asked the questions about the fire safety, about the cladding and it all seemed fine. The costs involved could potentially bankrupt me if I have to pay them."  

She says repairs to her building, The Milliners, in the Redcliffe area, is put at £7.6 million and it's one of up to 40 in Bristol said to be a fire risk.

The Milliners building is reportedly one of 40 Bristol blocks with safety defects. Credit: ITV News

Her Bristol West MP, Thangam Debbonaire, adds: "It's the anxiety of knowing you're in an unsafe building, it's the cost, it's being unable to sell and move on with your life.

"It's being unable to see any end to this problem and time and again being promised something will be done and that seems to drift further and further into the distance."

Homeowners gave emotional accounts of the financial and mental impact of the crisis when they met at college Green to increase the pressure on the government to resolve the crisis.

Steve Day has gained legal and political backing to protect homeowners through a change in the law.

Through his Polluter Pays Bill, he says: "If a builder doesn't build to regulations then they pay in full and we have come up with a scheme that makes it possible to do that outside the courts without leaseholders being involved and, crucially, without them having to wait for the money."

Homeowners met for a rally in central Bristol calling for greater government support. Credit: ITV News

In a statement the government said: "It is unacceptable and unfair that leaseholders are facing excessive bills. Building owners and industry must make buildings safe without passing on costs to leaseholders

"The new Secretary of State is looking afresh at this issue to make sure everything is being done to protect and support those affected. He held a constructive meeting with leaseholder groups this week and will continue to engage with them on a regular basis."