This week I am shining a light on one of the most important issues in my region. One of my first visits as a MS for South Wales Central was to listen to the concerns of the residents of the Celestia development in Cardiff Bay.

Since May my team and I have been working on behalf of desperate owners of high-rise flats, along with leaseholders that are concerned about cladding and the overall fire safety of their homes.

I have written many letters to the Welsh Government, and to the developers, Redrow, regarding their concerns. In the Senedd I have raised the issue constantly through questions. This however is not just an issue for residents and homeowners in the apartments at Celestia, this is a Cardiff-wide issue, a Wales-wide issue and indeed a UK one.


In a way this is part of the problem because those living in the flats seem to be caught between the two governments over who is responsible for the cladding that surrounds their homes.

The culmination of my Senedd campaign is a motion with the support of opposition parties calling on the Welsh Government to address the issue of fire safety for buildings. The legislative proposal calls for measures to ensure safe cladding on buildings.

The motion will be debated in the Senedd later this week, on Wednesday 22 November.

Many of the people who have made their homes in the high-rise apartment blocks in Cardiff Bay will of course be able to see the Senedd where the debate will take place.

Yet they feel their plight is ignored, This proposal starts to respond to their concerns, but action has to be taken by Boris Johnson’s government, and Mark Drakeford’s government.

The Welsh Government is right when they say this is a far wider issue than cladding on the exterior of buildings. I have seen for myself the fire safety measures taken inside buildings like the Celestia development in Cardiff. The initial focus after the fire at Grenfell Tower was on external cladding, there may be further defects in buildings that could compromise their ability to resist fire.

We have tabled this legislative proposal to raise this issue yet again. We have people a stone’s throw away from the Senedd who are not sleeping at night. People are crippled with anxiety, people in fear for their own safety and the safety of their loved ones. It has been more than four years since the Grenfell tragedy in London, which brought fire safety issues to the fore.

One of my constituents believes the Welsh Government could make an immediate impact by funding sprinklers in developments. This would be relatively low cost but immediate and significant benefits to homeowners' safety.

Residents are critical of the developers that are seemly reluctant to finance the remediation needed to improve fire safety.

I have welcomed the Welsh Building Safety Fund, available to both the private and public sectors, but more needs to be done urgently. More details about the fund can be seen on the Welsh Government’s website.

Plaid Cymru believes the Welsh Government should seek the powers to introduce a windfall tax on the profits of large developers and use the proceeds to solve the problems created by poor builds. These badly built homes can trap owners into poor quality flats and houses with no recourse, which has been the case with the cladding scandal.

Rhys ab Owen is a Member of the Senedd for South Wales Central. 

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