Fears 'waking watch' funds for blocks with unsafe cladding are not enough

Alex Dickin formed Ipswich Cladiators last year

Alex Dickin formed Ipswich Cladiators last year - Credit: Archant

The reopening of a government fund to help relieve the costs of a "waking watch" has been welcomed by a local campaign group – although they fear it will not solve the complex issue.

The concerns of Ipswich Cladiators, founded in the wake of the cladding crisis, comes after the government reopened applications for its Waking Watch Relief Fund, which was first offered to affected buildings earlier this year.

The £30m fund, open to buildings over 17.7m high with unsafe cladding and an active waking watch system, helps to pay for fire or heat alarms – which cost in the region of £100,000.

Of that £30m however, £22m has been allocated to metropolitan areas – meaning smaller towns and cities such as Ipswich are left with a much smaller chunk of the cash. 

Alex Dickin with Ipswich borough councillors Colin Kreidewolf, Carole Jones and council leader David Ellesmere

Alex Dickin with Ipswich borough councillors Colin Kreidewolf, Carole Jones and council leader David Ellesmere - Credit: Archant

Group founder Alex Dickin, who lives on the Ipswich Waterfront, said his building is one of two in the town to have been successful in its application – although said he will still face a hefty bill to cover the costs of the waking watch.

The watch, in effect since November, is understood to cost each leaseholder £300 per month and will continue to be in effect until the new heat alarm system in installed.

Although Mr Dickin said the fund would be beneficial to those affected in Ipswich, he added a number of buildings in the town are still yet to be surveyed to determine if they are unsafe – and could miss out on the money should they not meet the June 24 deadline.

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Mr Dickin said: "Yes, the money will help people in Ipswich.

"But Ipswich, unlike other towns and cities, has been slow in completing the surveys. Only once those survey results come in will the real extent of the buildings needing a waking watch be revealed.

"It doesn't make sense to have a deadline when clearly this situation is very fluid, and when buildings are going to be ready to apply at different points. 

"In my case, by the time the waking watch has finished, we will end up having to pay more than the cost of the new alarm."

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