Partners for improvement? Corporate vandalism inIslington and Camden
in Safe as houses
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This chapter recounts the appalling experiences of residents in Islington and Camden involving the Partners for Improvement consortium. The first section focuses on Islington, where the council signed two PFI contracts, for 30 and 16 years in 2003 and 2006 respectively, in total worth £721 million, to refurbish and maintain some 6,500 homes in Georgian and Victorian ‘street properties’ purchased by the council from private owners, including many listed buildings. The chapter details the huge damage inflicted by the contractors on the housing and the devastating effect this had on residents’ lives. A second section covers the renovation and repair of five tower blocks built in the late 1960s on the Chalcots Estate in Camden. It recounts how, after procurement delays lasting several years that pushed up the cost, a much shorter 15-year contract worth £153 million was signed in 2006. Although the refurbishment was criticised by residents at the time, it was only after Grenfell that the council listened to residents and discovered that the cladding system fitted under the PFI contract was combustible, forcing the council to evacuate the estate for a few weeks in the summer of 2017. The PFI contract has since been terminated three years earlier than planned, with the council liable for a staggering £92.9 million of rehousing costs and remedial work.

Safe as houses

Private greed, political negligence and housing policy after Grenfell

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