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.”
Police search for man who threw punch at Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Smith boxing match
Police are searching for man who threw his own punch at the AO Arena after Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Smith boxing match.
The man in question is believed to have vaulted over a barrier inside the arena just as the match itself came to an end.
He then punched a man sat behind him in the face, before making off on foot.
He left two women and a man he was with behind.
Police are now appealing to witnesses of the assault on Saturday 21 January 2023 to come forward with any information.
CCTV images of the suspect have been released by GMP.
They said in a statement: “Police are appealing for witnesses to an assault at the AO Arena on Saturday 21 January 2023 after the Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Smith boxing match.
“It is reported that then man (pictured) vaulted over a barrier inside the arena just as the boxing match finished, and struck a man sat behind him in the face.
“The offender then made off on foot, leaving two women and a man he was with, behind.
“Officers believe that the suspect is possibly from the Merseyside area. If you know the man or have any information relating to the crime, please contact GMP on 101, quoting reference number INC/0075491/23.
“Alternatively, information can be passed anonymously to the independent charity – Crimestoppers – on 0800 555 111.”
Featured image: GMP
Salford police officer sacked for ‘depraved’ relationship with vulnerable woman
A police officer has been sacked after carrying out an ‘improper relationship’ with a crime victim.
Paul Banks, who worked as a PC in Salford, has been dismissed and barred after a Gross Misconduct Hearing on 24 and 25 January 2023.
In the hearing, a panel heard how Banks had advised a vulnerable woman to create an email account – which he then accessed to view images and videos, some of which were explicit, that she had uploaded.
He viewed the content more than 200 times and never reported them to his manager or the force’s Professional Standards Branch.
In the end, his own colleagues sensed that something was amiss and raised the alarm.
GMP has now slammed Banks’s ‘depraved behaviour’ and stressed that ‘there will never be a place in GMP for anybody who behaves like him’.
A statement also said that he ‘abused his position of trust’.
Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Allen, head of GMP’s Professional Standards Branch, said: “Banks knew full well that his conduct was egregiously wrong.
“By cultivating an improper relationship with a vulnerable member of the public who he met in the course of his policing duties, the officer has been deservedly sacked from GMP.
“Not only has he disgraced himself, but his depraved behaviour dishonours policing and undermines the principled endeavours of his colleagues, who everyday do a valiant job catching criminals and protecting our communities.
“Indeed, it was Banks’ own colleagues who sensed something was amiss and triggered the first step in a process that rooted him out.
“The prudence of his colleagues is to be commended and I am grateful to the IOPC for conducting an investigation that left no stone unturned.
“No decent member of the police service wants to work with the likes of Banks and there will never be a place in GMP for anybody who behaves like him.
“He abused his position of trust and for that the Office of Constable has been rightly stripped from him.
“GMP is a better force without Banks and we will recruit a new officer into his post who will discharge their duties with honour and espouse the professional and compassionate values of the GMP workforce.”
Banks, who had been on restricted since the investigation began in December 2020, was dismissed without notice.