By Bill Heaney
The safety of residents of flats which have dangerous cladding similar to Grenfell Tower is “an absolute priority” for the Scottish Government.
First Minister Humza Yousaf told the Holyrood parliament this week: “We are acting decisively to protect lives through a programme of cladding assessment and remediation.
“The current programme includes 105 buildings that will each go through a comprehensive technical assessment.
“Although we expect that the majority will be safe, if the assessment identifies an immediate fire risk, we will act without delay, as we have already done.
“As assessments are completed, we will agree plans and take action to deliver full remediation. That means that I also expect developers to take responsibility to remediate their buildings where the public purse is not needed to do so.
“I urge them to do so voluntarily, but we will use all the levers at our disposal, including legislation if necessary, to remediate buildings and protect residents.
Kaukab Stewart, an SNP MSP, told him: “The First Minister will understand that people’s lives have been put on hold and that some people are at the end of their tether.
“Local authorities are asking for building warrants for remediation work and developers are putting safety measures in place that are severely imposing on the lives of people who live in those buildings, but many residents and constituents of mine feel that remediation is not moving quickly enough.
“My constituents just want their lives back. What further measures can the Scottish Government take to further encourage local authorities and developers to work co-operatively to remove unsafe cladding from these buildings more quickly?”
The First Minister, pictured right, told Kaukab Stewart: ” is right to make a couple of key points. One is about the frustration of her constituents—and, perhaps, constituents in other parts of the country—because things do not seem to be moving as quickly on the ground as they would like. I understand that frustration.
“Kaukab Stewart is also right to mention that we are trying to take a collaborative approach with developers, local authorities and others in relation to this particular situation. I can understand how worrying it is for those living in buildings with unsafe cladding. That is why we put the safety and well-being of residents at the very heart of the cladding remediation programme. Developers must do the same—they must step up and fix their buildings.
“Our preference has always been to have that voluntary agreement with developers through the Scottish safer buildings accord, but let me be clear that we are putting the safety of residents first and foremost and we will use all the powers that we have.
“I reiterate what I said in my first answer to Kaukab Stewart that, if necessary, we will also use legislation to ensure that developers do the right thing, so that we can get on with remediating buildings in line with Scottish building standards.”