A Manchester apartment block at the centre of the recent cladding scandal has now been considered so high risk that it doesn’t even qualify for fire insurance.
An inspection at the Albion Works building in New Islington last year revealed a wide range of fire issues – with leaseholders claiming they were unknowingly sold unsafe homes.
The previous insurance policy for blocks D and E was due for renewal two weeks ago (September 1), but according to management company RMG, previous insurers are unwilling to provide cover any longer.
Freeholder Artisan H2 has so far failed to secure new fire insurance – meaning leaseholders are at risk of losing everything if a blaze breaks out.
In the meantime, RMG is urging residents to be vigilant when cooking and to avoid leaving naked flames unattended.
Sarah, a first-time buyer at Albion Works, said: “It is terrifying that we not only have to live with the risk from combustible cladding but now we discover there is no insurance for the very thing our building has been found to be at a high risk from. I’d have more consumer rights if I’d bought a toaster.”
Artisan H2 has said it is making ongoing efforts to acquire cover, but after a fortnight of being left uninsured, residents are still waiting to hear more information.
Leaseholders in Albion Works have already been billed £400,000 for fire wardens, £70,000 for fire alarm improvements, and £10,000 in consultancy fees.
Anyone who fails to fork out for the necessary repairs is being threatened with referrals to debt collection agencies.
Sarah says: “I now feel utterly trapped. I’ve had sleepless nights worrying about the safety of my home and I feel physically sick every time I receive an email from my management company as I have no idea how many thousands they will be billing me for now.
“I am unable to make any plans for my future and I don’t know if the bills I am still to receive could bankrupt me.“
Another resident, Leanne is equally distraught.
“I was so proud as a single young female I managed to get myself on the housing ladder and was so grateful to have the help of the government’s Help to Buy scheme,” she said.
“Three years later I’m feeling as though the government don’t care that my property could be the next Grenfell, my life is on hold, my mental health is deteriorating, and my financial future is ruined.
“Why is the government allowing this to happen to us?”
Albion Works has been registered for the government’s £1.6bn building safety fund.
However, this pot of money is only expected to cover a third of the British buildings requiring urgent repairs.
Decisions on funding allocations will apparently be made on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.
If the buildings do not qualify for the fund, leaseholders will have to foot the bill.
As buildings await confirmation on financial support, Albion Works residents remain stuck with no fire insurance in apartments worth £0.
Responding to LBC, building owners Artisan H2 said they were “working day and night” to resolve the issue.
“We are committed to ensuring that the buildings are fully insured and we continue in daily discussions with a number of brokers in order to obtain full cover as quickly as possible,” said representatives.
“We appreciate the concern that this situation is causing, indeed as leaseholders of properties within the blocks we share the concern of our follow leaseholders. We are working day and night to obtain the best possible cover.
“We will keep all parties updated as soon as there is any movement on the insurance position.”
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”