BASINGSTOKE'S MP is working with residents to find a solution to cladding issues, just days after abstaining from a vote calling on the government to remove flammable cladding from buildings quicker.

Maria Miller did not vote following a debate on Monday called by the Labour party, after it revealed that up to 11 million people may still be living in homes with unsafe cladding similar to that found on Grenfell Tower.

Just two days after the opposition day debate in Westminster, The Gazette revealed how an apartment block in Basingstoke containing around 250 homes failed cladding tests.

The external cladding on Crown Heights contains combustible material, and does not have fire breaks.

It means that should a fire spread to the cladding, the whole building could catch alight in scenes similar to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017.

MP speaks out

In a public statement released on Thursday, a day after the Gazette made the news public, Mrs Miller said that she is doing "all that I can" to support residents.

The MP for Basingstoke said: "Residents have contacted me to say problems with fire safety have been identified at Crown Heights and I am working with representatives from the Residents Association to identify how to get those problems sorted as soon as possible.

"I will do all that I can to support residents at this worrying and distressing time, and urge everyone concerned to work together in the best interests of the people who live in Crown Heights.

"I have spoken to the chief operating officer of the building management company and also the Chief Fire Officer for Hampshire, both have told me that the appropriate actions are being taken to keep residents safe. That has to be the prime concern right now."

Backing for amendment

Despite not taking part in the vote on Monday, which saw all Conservative MPs abstain, Mrs Miller says she is supporting fellow Hampshire MP Royston Smith in amending the Fire Safety Bill.

It aims to "protect residents from unfair bills to pay for remedial works where fire safety problems have been identified" - one of the key concerns of residents who fear they will be forced to pay for repairs.

"I want it to be clear that residents should not pick up the bill for fire safety problems caused by those who built their homes," she continued.

"Residents didn’t create these problems. And residents should not be left unfairly footing the Bill if house builders have failed to put in place essential fire safety measures.

“Following the Grenfell tragedy in 2017 I met residents living in high rise accommodation in Basingstoke to discuss their concerns and as a result tabled a change in the law to ensure proper fire safety information is given to residents on a regular basis including information on the buildings’ fire alarm system and evacuation plan.

"This was taken up by the Government and included into the Government’s Fire Safety Bill.

“EWS1 reports, put in place following the Grenfell tragedy, have identified fire safety problems with many hundreds of residential tower blocks across the country, over and above the problems already identified with the flammability of cladding immediately following the Grenfell fire.

“In 2017 Hampshire Fire Service confirmed to me that flammable exterior cladding was used only in a very limited way in Basingstoke.

"But these more intrusive surveys now being undertaken are revealing additional fire safety concerns with the way high rise flats have been constructed, including the absence of fire breaks in the walls and the use of combustible wall insulation material.

"This may not be the same as flammable exterior cladding but it is no less concerning for residents and has been clearly identified as a fire risk."

No date has yet been set for remedial works to Crown Heights, will FirstPort saying they have no control over the process and are awaiting that information from the government's building safety fund.

In the debate in Parliament on Monday, Conservative MP Stephen McPartland, who is also working on the same amendment with Mrs Miller and Mr Smith, said the government's handling of the cladding crisis had been "incompetent".