Yesterday, residents in the dangerously cladded Pendleton Together blocks got a letter pushed through their doors stating that the company had "secured funding for the removal and replacement of cladding over nine blocks at Pendleton, along with other fire related works. Further details on the work will be available shortly..."
The letter didn't state the amount it had secured, nor whether the finance covers other defects in the blocks, including faulty wiring, dodgy windows and failing entrance gates. Nor did it give a timetable for the work.
At the same time, Salford City Council issued a press release stating that it 'welcomed' the news. The Council had previously borrowed £25million for the work, but the Government refused permission for it to be loaned to Pendleton Together Operating Limited; nor would it allow the Council or company access to its £400million cladding fund, which other local authorities are using to finance cladding replacement work.
This was because the blocks, owned by the Council and managed by Pendleton Together is a profit-led Private Finance Initiative, or PFI, which provides dividends for shareholders.
"The Government were washing their hands of the situation" said Deputy Mayor, John Merry in the Council press release "Our PFI partners have worked with us to come up with a solution. I would like to thank them for their hard work and commitment to providing safe homes.
"Our pleas for financial support were repeatedly ignored in the wake of the Grenfell Fire" he added "We were initially told by Government that the council was responsible for funding the works to make the building safe, only to be told in the last few weeks that we could not lend the funds to get works started and that the PFI contractor itself would not qualify for national remediation funding.
"You couldn't make it up" he concluded " We remain focused on doing the right thing for residents – which is getting the works done as quickly as possible. We know our local community will be relieved that the PFI contractor, PTOL, have the means to pay for a detailed fire safety programme to keep homes safe and warm."
John Merry has refused to take part in a face-to-face interview with the Salford Star to discuss the Pendleton fiasco. Nor has he yet released the Trident report on the blocks' safety defects, commissioned in the wake of Grenfell, and promised to residents and the Star.
Indeed, two weeks ago, City Mayor, Paul Dennett, promised a Pendleton resident that the report would be released, and, last week, at a chance meeting with the Star at the Civic Centre, he also told the Star that he had instructed the release of the report, minus the paragraphs that are the subject of litigation. Yet there is still no sign of the document.
Last week, the Salford Star emailed John Merry, imploring him to release the report... "Don't make us write that there is a cover up going on" we wrote. Councillor Merry has still not replied...