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From The Socialist newspaper, 13 November 2019

Barking: protest brings pledge to remove dangerous decking

Barking Reach Resident's Association protest October 2019, photo Pete Mason, photo Pete Mason

Barking Reach Resident's Association protest October 2019, photo Pete Mason, photo Pete Mason   (Click to enlarge)

Pete Mason, chair, Barking Reach Residents Association, and East London Socialist Party

Following our protest last month (see 'Burnt-out Barking residents picket builders' sales day'), covered by BBC London news, estate residents have received a letter addressing the most prominent fire safety issue.

The Barking Reach Residents Association organised a peaceful protest outside building firm Bellway's big sales jamboree in the Hilton London Tower Bridge hotel on 19 October. We must have caused considerable discomfort and maybe even lost sales.

Residents have been forced back into their flats after fleeing the fire that spread across their block in June. Yet the balconies like those that caught fire and were destroyed in Samuel Garside House still remain in place and are still a danger to life.

An 8 November letter from property managers Residential Management Group (RMG) said the balcony decking of some 158 flats in two twin blocks will now be replaced, without delay, at no cost to residents.

This pledge contrasts with RMG's response to the council report the day before our protest. Bosses said they had fulfilled all their legal 'Category 1' responsibilities and that residents were safe to return!

The council emphasised the danger of the wooden balconies. But it told us it could do nothing, because the landlord had implemented a 24/7 waking watch.

In turn, we said a watch could do nothing but watch if a fire took hold, because it spread across the flats in minutes. Preventative measures were needed.

In a letter to council leader Darren Rodwell, we said the law is an ass. These companies are likely guilty of criminal negligence; a fire risk assessment in January had pointed to the danger.

Under decades of compliant capitalist governments, building companies have driven through deregulation and turned a blind eye to fire safety. Austerity has meant huge cuts to fire service and council resources. So existing laws are insufficient to ensure fire safety in countless buildings.

Let's hope the election of a Corbyn government will act to end this laissez-faire playing with lives. A Corbyn government should nationalise the big building firms like Bellway to provide the public housing promised.

Replacement should have happened before residents returned. But this is nevertheless a victory - assuming that Bellway carries out its promise, and with minimum disruption to the traumatised residents.

But there are 200 or more wood-fronted buildings in the surrounding area that are still a fire risk. We have yet to hear anything about this, despite repeated promises. So our protests are set to continue.

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In The Socialist 13 November 2019:


What we think

Attacks show elite fear a Corbyn election win


News

Strike, protest, vote - Kick the Tories out

Labour MP targeted by right wing stands as independent

NHS in critical condition

Green Party offers no alternative for young people and climate change chaos


International socialist news and analysis

Bolivia: Right-wing coup ousts Morales

Kshama Sawant reelected in Seattle


Workplace news

'McStrikers' demand 15 an hour

UCU strikes: Union means business in fight against employers

Postal union determined to resist bosses' attacks

PCS union general secretary election: Enthusiastic support for Marion Lloyd

Frimley NHS Trust strikes: Health workers walkout against privatisation

Bradford libraries and museums: Unite members escalate action against cuts

RMT union members at SWR to walk out in December

Transport for London - Justice for cleaners!


Education

Save education - Kick out the Tories


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Leicester campaigns to save our NHS

Fighting for free education, jobs, homes, and a future worth living

Socialism 2019 rally: "Socialist change needed to end climate change"

Trade union conference to force secret police disclosure

Barking: protest brings pledge to remove dangerous decking

Help socialist ideas spread this election: donate!

We saved Chatsworth Ward - two years on

I'm 90 and still a socialist


Readers' opinion

Readers' opinion: Twitter's banning of political ads threatens workers' voice

Theatre: On Bear Ridge - an examination of loss, set in a post-apocalyptic world

Socialism 2019 - what you thought


 

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