'Set deadline to remove cladding,' Tower Hamlets mayor urges
- Credit: Mike Brooke
A call to set a national deadline to remove all Grenfell-style cladding on tower blocks has been made by the mayor of Tower Hamlets at the launch of the East End’s building safety charter.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe in their own home,” Mayor John Biggs said. "But many don’t, even four years after the Grenfell tragedy.
“We're still no nearer to a date for all unsafe cladding to be taken off. Part of the hold-up is about who foots the bill.”
Some 293 private sector buildings in the East End have applied for government cash to get rid of cladding — well over double the applications in Westminster covering the whole West End.
The council’s Building Safety Pledge, launched this week, sets out what powers the town hall can use and what housing associations and other landlords can do to make flat dwellers safe.
But it seeks “government clarity” on how it's to be paid for.
It comes ahead of an online Mayor’s Question Time on July 22, where people who have been affected can quiz him, the London Fire Brigade’s borough commander Richard Tapp and Tower Hamlets Homes director Will Manning.
This all follows a blaze at the 19-storey New Providence Wharf complex at Blackwall on May 7. The building had to be evacuated while it took 20 minutes for a rescue turntable ladder to arrive.
New Providence, built in 2008, has been having its cladding removed since May — but there are almost 300 more buildings dotted across the East End wrapped in such material.
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Tower Hamlets' cabinet member for planning, Eve McQuillan, told last week’s council meeting about residents she met who had suffered “stress and anxiety” living in potentially unsafe buildings.
Many had saved up to get on the housing ladder — only to find they’re now “living in a worthless property”.
She added: “Our pledge sets out what we can do to start putting an end to this problem that unfairly affects the East End.”
The council's proposed nationwide deadline would be to remove all cladding made of aluminium composite material, which has been found to accelerate fire spreading rather than act as a flame retardant.
It’s this cladding which exacerbated the 2017 inferno at Grenfell Tower, meaning flames consumed the 24-storey building in just minutes, fatally trapping 72 people inside.