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In this week's bulletin we report on the Government's plans to support an expansion scheme for Council enforcement teams in relation to unsafe cladding together with an update on the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act 2022. As usual, this is accompanied by our positive news and insights from around the firm.

Government ramps up cladding repairs enforcement

The Government has confirmed its plan to ramp up enforcement against building owners that refuse to fix unsafe cladding with £8 million funding for an expansion of Council enforcement teams.

The multimillion-pound fund from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) will be split between 59 councils across the country and will initially focus on the areas with the highest number of unsafe buildings. 

Building safety minister Lee Rowley said:

“Building owners must get essential cladding repairs done as quickly as possible and we will be relentless in pursuing those who do not.
We are bolstering council enforcement operations, making them better equipped to make the most of the powers they have to hold freeholders to account and prevent them from dragging their heels.
I look forward to working with councils to ensure we keep up the pressure on freeholders, so they step up to the plate.”

The fund will give councils greater resources to pursue building owners that are refusing to start necessary repairs with particular focus on buildings in London, Manchester and Birmingham. 

Along with the additional funding, a number of the UK's biggest house builders have pledged to fund critical fire safety works on buildings 11m and over and a new scheme for mid-rise buildings (11 – 18m), funded through the Building Safety Levy, is set to be rolled out next year.

The announcement of the Government's enforcement plans shows their commitment to ensuring that remedial work on all unsafe cladding is undertaken and it will be interesting to see whether any further measures are announced over the coming months. 

Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act 2022

On 6 December 2022 the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill received royal assent. 

Part 2 of the Act deals with telecommunications infrastructure measures and makes amendments to the Electronic Communications Code (the Code) to support the efficient rollout of 5G and address other issues currently faced by Code operators.

Some of the key changes are briefly outlined below:

  • A new s.34A is to be inserted into the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 (the 1954 Act) so that the rent under a 1954 Act protected subsisting agreement in England and Wales will be determined in accordance with paragraph 24 of the Code on renewal (section 61);
  • A new S34B is also to be inserted into the 1954 Act which will permit the court to make an order that an operator pays compensation to a site provider for any damage of loss sustained as a result of exercising its Code rights. Whilst a right to compensation already exists in relation to Code agreements made pursuant to the Code, this new section in the 1954 Act will broaden its application to relevant tenancies renewed in accordance with the 1954 Act;
  • A new Part 4ZA of the Code has been inserted to provide time-limited rights to an operator met by an unresponsive occupier. After serving a number of notices, an operator can now apply to the court for an order imposing an agreement on the site provider in the terms identified in its request notice (section 67); and
  • Operators now have a statutory duty to include information about alternative dispute resolution in notices served pursuant to paragraph 20 of the Code, where a consensual agreement cannot be reached. Operators are also required to explain the possible consequences of refusing to engage in alternative dispute resolution. 

Insights from around the firm

Positive news 

  • 13-year-old Alyssa has had the cancer cleared from her body thanks to a new technology called base editing which was only invented six years ago. In May 2021, Alyssa was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The team of doctors and scientists involved used base editing to engineer a new type of T-cell that was capable of hunting down and killing Alyssa's cancerous T-cells. Alyssa was the first of ten people to have undergone this form of therapy, as part of a clinical trial.  
  • On 13 December 2022 US president Joe Biden signed legislation protecting same-sex marriages across all states and declared the "law and the love it defends strike a blow against hate in all its forms".
  • On Tuesday we celebrated a breakthrough in nuclear fusion energy wherein a fusion experiment produced more energy than what was put in. This experiment poses a potential source of near limitless clean energy. No experiment had managed to produce more energy than the amount put in to make it work, until now.