Camden rubber-stamp plans to replace Chalcots contractor – but are told ‘trust is at an all time low’

Taplow tower on the Chalcots Estate is one of the towers which will have its windows and curtain wal

Taplow tower on the Chalcots Estate is one of the towers which will have its windows and curtain wall replaced. Picture: Harry Taylor - Credit: Harry Taylor

Camden Council’s cabinet rubber-stamped ditching Wates as the contractor charged with completing ground-breaking fire safety work in the Chalcots Estate on Wednesday night.

The council will open a new tender process to find a provider to undertake the work to produce and fit “first of its kind” cladding on the estate’s five blocks.

Councillors in Belsize, the ward which encompasses the Chalcots, urged the council to ensure transparency by making sure the final decision on who to award the contract was made in public. Council leader Cllr Georgia Gould and housing chief Cllr Meric Apak both backed the move, which was then unanimously passed by his cabinet colleagues.

Cllr Apak (Lab, Kentish Town) told the meeting on Wednesday (May 13): “Despite sustained efforts, we are not where we wanted to be with signing the contract – but we have to get this right.

He added: “Where we cannot reach an agreement that’s acceptable to us, we should walk away and find one which is.”

Asked what residents were feeling, Cllr Apak said: “There’s extreme disappointment - that’s perhaps an understatement.” But he said a “consensus” of the community figures he had heard from were in favour of the council’s plan.

The council has decided to ditch Wates on the basis the proposed designs were not what the council or residents had asked for.

The fire safety work was required after concerns over resident safety saw the estate was evacuated in June 2017.

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Cllr Luisa Porritt (Lib Dem, Belsize) said: “It’s important to ensure the new procurement does not lead to similar problems arising.”

She said that “while this decision may be the right one”, for residents “trust in the council on this matter is at an all-time low”.

Cllr Steve Adams (Con, Belsize) said he felt the council and council leader’s previous confidence in the previous procurement was “misplaced”.

He added he was unimpressed with the council’s report on the issue.

He said: “It paints a very happy picture of what appears to be a rather difficult problem of failure. With all the contributions from Arup and Arcadis, we have still arrived at this situation following six renewals of the original letter of intent.”

He asked: “Why wasn’t time called on this far earlier?”