Government 'shamed' into funding flammable cladding removal, says Fire Brigades Union secretary

Government 'shamed' into funding flammable cladding removal, says Fire Brigades Union secretary

David Shek, Fire Brigades Union secretary

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A demonstration was staged outside the Ministry of Housing on Wednesday by protesters urging the government to immediately remove flammable cladding from buildings.

Organised by Fuel Poverty Action, the demo included speeches from representatives from the Fire Brigades Union, the Grenfell community and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).

An open letter to housing secretary James Brokenshire, signed by over 100 organisations, MPs, councillors, architects and residents of affected blocks, was then delivered to the Ministry.

At the Conversative conference it was announced that combustible cladding would be banned on new high-rise buildings, care homes, hospitals or student accommodation.


'Not good enough'

The demonstration comes as the the government announced it was releasing £400 million of funding to 12 local authorities and 31 housing associations to remove flammable cladding from social housing blocks 18 or more metres tall, after the cladding on Grenfell Tower was found to have accelerated the spread of the fire. 

“This government’s been shamed into giving £400 million to take cladding off,” David Shek, secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said.

“It’s not good enough. The fact of the matter is, it should be taken off. After every tragedy we hear, it shouldn’t have happened, change needs to be done. Then b****y take that c**p off, and put A1 non-combustible cladding on.”


Private landlord should 'protect leaseholders' from costs

Private landlords, Mr Brokenshire said, should foot the bill for removing cladding themselves.

“In the private sector, I want to see landlords protect leaseholders from these costs. I am pleased that a number have stepped forward to do so, including Barratt Developments, Legal & General, Taylor Wimpey, Mace and Peabody. However, there are some who are not engaging in this process. If they don’t, I have ruled nothing out,” he said in a statement.

The Ministry said its figures showed 75% of social housing buildings with unsafe cladding had had it removed or were in the process of having it removed, with plans in place for the remaining 25%.

However, in June it was reported that 470 high-rise blocks across the social and private housing sector had flammable cladding, with that number potentially rising as more private buildings were identified.


'Stress, anxiety and depression'

Beverley Logue, Manchester homeowner hit with a bill to remove dangerous cladding

Beverley Logue lives in the Green Quarter in Manchester, where some private developments are covered in Grenfell-style cladding.

The homes were built by Lendlease, which is in the running for a contract to refurbish Manchester City Hall.

Property investor Pemberstone took over 300 leaseholders to court over their refusal to foot the bill for its removal, and in July a tribunal ruled the residents should pay.

They now face a £10,000-per-household bill to have the cladding removed.

“I’m here representing the 343 owners, who within weeks will be presented with a bill for cladding remediation work,” she told the gathered protesters.

“Leadlease made three-quarters-of-a-billion dollar profit last year, and is thrashing around to do everything it can to get out of paying the £3 million-plus cost.

“This company is left in the running for a £330 million deal to refurbish Manchester town hall - this should not be allowed to happen.

“It’s there when we wake in the middle of the night, and it’s there when we wake to face another day of stress, anxiety and oftentimes, depression.”

She told talkRADIO that she wanted Manchester mayor Andy Burnham to take Lendlease out of the running for the Manchester town hall refurbishment project.

Mr Burnham has been contacted for comment.