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It’s time to end this repairs contract

30 June, 2017

• AS many readers will know, the contractor responsible for the refurbishment of north Kensington’s Grenfell Tower and Camden’s Chalcots estate, now under evacuation, is Rydon Group.

What they may not realise is that Rydon also holds the repairs contract for 6.6k Islington Council freehold street-properties.

Rydon Property Maintenance is one of the four tentacles of Partners Islington, the £750m PFI (private finance initiative) arms’-length organisation that ‘manages’ those homes on behalf of the council. For years, local campaigners have argued for the termination of this contract, complaining of shoddy work and inadequate accountability.

They’ve been told publicly by local political bosses, including then-housing boss James Murray, now reprising this role as advisor to London mayor Sadiq Khan, that ending the contract would be too expensive.

Meanwhile, Rydon continues to be a beneficiary of public money even while inquiries into Grenfell and Chalcots are under way.

The question will again be asked: what were the council’s lawyers doing signing off a contract with a “break-clause” costing upwards of £300million to implement? This time an answer is required.

The web of contracting/subcontracting that has characterised PFI Partners from the outset – familiar to those who live in Islington Council freeholds – has been singled out in the horror that is Grenfell Tower (See ‘Complex chain of companies that worked on Grenfell Tower raises oversight concerns’, The Guardian, June 16).

Meantime, Rydon continues to sit on the Greater London Authority’s London Development Panel
(LDP), the body which “works to accelerate the construction of housing in the capital. It consists of 25 of the UK’s most experienced housing developers who have a track record of delivering in London.”

Hmm… A public statement from the mayor’s office or Mr Murray has yet to be made on this seemingly inappropriate situation.

At the time of writing, the number missing, presumed dead, in the Grenfell Tower inferno is officially 79, though that number is expected to rise.

Ellington Street, N7


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