Protesting at Bellway Housing 1 May 2021

Protesting at Bellway Housing 1 May 2021   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Ruth Mason, East London Socialist Party

On 1 May more than 60 residents of the Caspian Quarter gathered outside Bellway’s Barking showrooms to protest about the property developer’s failure to replace flammable balconies. Local Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate and Socialist Party member, Pete Mason addressed the crowd who were shouting: “Bellway must pay!” and “Make our homes safe!” Pete has led the campaign against flammable cladding and balconies since the Samuel Garside House fire in Barking, 2019.

Just two years after the Grenfell fire, a fire on one of the balconies of Samuel Garside House turned the whole front of the building into an inferno within seven minutes. Samuel Garside House is a modern block of flats built within the last decade by the developers, Bellway Homes. The Caspian Quarter is a group of several blocks of flats which Bellway built even more recently. Only about a quarter of a mile from Samuel Garside House, the blocks of the Caspian Quarter also have flammable balconies.

In the immediate aftermath of the Samuel Garside fire, Bellway agreed to replace the balconies at no cost to the residents, but they have so far made no effort to do so.

The government’s recently passed Fire Safety Act does nothing to assist leaseholders in the Caspian Quarter. The £5 billion pledged by the government to remove dangerous cladding incomprehensibly only applies to buildings over 18 metres tall, and lets the big property developers like Bellway off scot-free to continue to rake in billions in profits.