A protest was held today outside the Houses of Parliament to demand funding to make at least 1,500 tower blocks safe, and free from combustible cladding. The protest was attended by more than 100 residents, including those from affected tower blocks in Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds. Bishop Lloyd and Jackson also attended the rally to show their support for those who are trapped by unsafe cladding.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, led the rally and called for a bailout to improve fire safety for the thousands of people living in residential buildings and apartment blocks wrapped in dangerous cladding across the country. Andy Burnham stated:
“The government hasn’t faced up to the full scale of the cladding crisis…the message we have to send out today is to stop gambling with peoples’ safety.”
It has been nearly 1,000 days since the Grenfell Tower fire, and there are still thousands of people, including the elderly, and families with young children, living in blocks of flats and high-rise buildings, with unsafe cladding.
Developers, building owners and freeholders are refusing to cover the costs of the remedial works to have the cladding removed, arguing that it is not their responsibility to pay for the work. This now puts the leaseholders in a difficult position, as they are struggling to sell their properties, due to the fire concerns surrounding unsafe cladding.
As part of the Building Safety Programme, which was set up by the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government, £200m was paid by the government, to remove the same type of aluminium composite material cladding (ACM), that was used on Grenfell tower, from other private blocks. Unsafe ACM cladding is still used on some buildings, with freeholders making no plans to remove the cladding.
Other combustible materials, such as high-pressure laminates (HPL) are still present on many tower blocks across the United Kingdom. The estimated cost for removing unsafe cladding in the UK is more than £2bn, with at least 57 apartment blocks covered in combustible cladding, in Greater Manchester alone.
Who should cover the Cost of Removing Unsafe Cladding?
There has been no government fund available for the removal of other unsafe cladding, with an unsuccessful strategy to persuade developers and freeholders to foot the bill of cladding removal. Many people, including Andy Burnham, believe that the current government is not doing enough to help the fire safety crisis. Burnham further stated:
“It’s funny in this country how we can always find money for some things but not for others.”
A high proportion of campaigners are of the opinion that the responsibility of replacing unsafe cladding should be shared between the government, developers, and freeholders as they all played a part in the creation of fire safety crisis.
The Grenfell disaster, in West London, has highlighted the need for new fire safety measures in the UK, including the removal of all unsafe cladding from buildings. It is clear that enough has not been done to protect the residents in both social housing, and private accommodation, from unsafe living conditions.
How can Bishop Lloyd and Jackson Help?
BLJ support the residents living in buildings with unsafe cladding, and we continue to fight for justice for the victims of Grenfell Tower and those who require remedial works to their properties. If you would like to find out more on how we can help with Fire Safety, please get in touch and Contact us.
Our work in relation to the Grenfell Tower fire means we are uniquely placed to advise in relation to possible litigation in this area and on fire safety law.
We have already started litigation on behalf of residents of a block of flats where there were significant fire safety breaches, and continue to investigate other buildings/residents at risk of future fire damage.