The Socialist 16 January 2019 |
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After Grenfell, thousands still in high-rise firetrap blocks
Grenfell Tower, photo James Ivens (Click to enlarge)
- Cladding off now!
- Landlords and government must pay!
Steve Nally, Lambeth and South West London Socialist Party
Across England, 437 high-rise buildings are still covered in combustible cladding, according to government figures.
Of these 171 are private towers, where people have either bought or rent flats that are now firetraps.
Property developers and landlords are parasites at the best of times. But now they are really showing their true colours.
These blocks desperately need to be made safe. But rather than do the decent thing, private companies and landlords are refusing to pay out, and are instead demanding that leaseholders, and indirectly renters, foot the bill.
For those affected the sums are eye-watering. In one block in Bromley, south London, the landlord is asking families to find £70,000 to rest easy. This will bankrupt some people, and leave crippling debts for most others.
For the block's owner, the cost would be £4 million. A small sum to pay for multimillion-pound private landlords whose only rule is that we work flat-out to pay for a roof over our heads while they sun themselves on some exclusive beach.
After the horror of the fire at Grenfell Tower, the Tory government pledged to support the removal of all combustible cladding from high-rise buildings so that people could sleep safe at night. The crocodile tears have long since dried, and reality is kicking in.
While landlords, councils and the government argue over who foots the bill, tens of thousands of people living in private towers are at risk of another fire disaster.
After much dithering, the Tories finally signed off £400 million to make public housing safe. We say they should already have made the same commitment in private housing - and all other buildings covered in unsafe materials.
Combustible cladding has been known about for decades, but it was still given the OK for use on tower blocks in Britain.
After Grenfell, we demand that all homes be made safe; that all costs be borne by the profiteering landlords and government; and that all those responsible for the tragedy at Grenfell be brought to justice, including the private building companies.
Residents can organise to force their landlords into action - if necessary, we say: no safety, no rent.
Socialist Party members support the Social Housing Action Campaign (Shac), which links together housing workers, tenants and residents, particularly in housing associations and co-ops. It campaigns on accountability, fire safety and other issues.
Shac has an open meeting in London on Tuesday 29 January at 6.30pm, at the Diskus Centre, Unite HQ, 128 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8TN.