Thousands in Harrow are still living in flats with potentially flammable cladding, almost four years after the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in which 72 people died in their homes.
At least 108 high rise buildings in London including 14 buildings in Harrow are still waiting to have dangerous cladding removed, suggesting there are thousands of people in the city living in unsafe flats. While the Government has committed to support for buildings over 18m, many leaseholders in Harrow and across the country are being overlooked, with residents forced to pay thousands of pounds for remediation costs to remove unsafe cladding from their buildings.
Last week, the Labour Party urged a June 2022 deadline for fixing the post-Grenfell cladding crisis.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas pinpointed the buildings in his constituency where residents are still enduring high remediation costs.
Gareth Thomas said:
“It is nearly four years since the Grenfell Tower tragedy claimed some 72 lives, yet hundreds of thousands of families still live in unsafe, unsellable homes, and many leaseholders face crippling debts, through no fault of their own—Trident Point, Pearmain House and Amber Court are all in my constituency. Given that this was the biggest building scandal in modern UK history, why did the Prime Minister order his MPs to vote down our efforts yesterday to get this scandal sorted once and for all?”
Harrow Council’s Portfolio lead for Housing Cllr Phill O’Dell added:
“I have heard some extremely worrying stories from residents, who are being asked to pay thousands of pounds in waking watch fees and remediation bills that they cannot afford, all while locked down in dangerous buildings.
“As a council we are tackling the housing crisis by building affordable, green and safe homes. The Government are hindering our effort by failing to fix the cladding scandal”.
Video of Gareth Thomas at Prime Minister’s Questions on 19/05/21 –
Last week, the Labour Party tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech ahead of a parliamentary debate on affordable and safe housing Shadow Housing Secretary, Lucy Powell has called for a ‘National Cladding Taskforce’ would be given strong powers to establish the full extent of dangerous materials on buildings, prioritise them according to risk and ensure there is enforcement against those who refuse to undertake works.
It would drive forward Labour’s six demands for safer homes, which include:
• Immediate up-front funding for removing deadly cladding and other urgent fire safety work
• Protecting leaseholders and taxpayers by pursuing those responsible for the cladding scandal for costs
• A new, legally enforceable 2022 deadline to make homes safe
• Legislation to protect residents from costs
• Getting the market moving by ensuring affected residents can sell and re-mortgage
• Stamping out rogue builders by reforming the sector
• The New Build Database estimates the scandal could be even larger than previously thought, encompassing up to 4.6 million properties. Based on the ONS average household size of 2.4 this is estimated to involve 11 million people.
• Almost four years after the Grenfell Tower disaster in June 2017, government inaction has left millions at risk and financially worse off:
• In December, the Government promised £30m for fire alarms to reduce costs for leaseholders forced to have a waking
watch, however this comes after some leaseholders had already paid £500 000 on ineffective 24 hour fire safety
• Despite promising that all blocks with Grenfell-style ACM cladding would start works by the by the end of 2020, there are 165 buildings still with ACM cladding on them, and 45 buildings that still have not started remediation works. This comes after the Government broke their promise that all ACM cladding would be removed by June 2020.
• Four years after the Grenfell tragedy, the Government currently has no comprehensive data on the number of buildings with other forms of dangerous cladding. The most recent audit of dangerous buildings was only partial and ineffective. The £1bn Building Safety Fund is being distributed on a ‘first come first served’ basis, with no regard for the level of risk a building poses to residents.