Rushanara Ali MP: Government ‘will have blood on its hands’ if developers don’t remove dangerous cladding
- Credit: Archant
The government will have ‘blood on its hands’ if there is another Grenfell-style fire at a block with ‘dangerous’ cladding, MP Rushanara Ali has said.
The Bethnal Green and Bow MP wants ministers to set up a national fund to save homeowners from being charged by private building owners for work replacing combustible aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding on tower blocks.
The material has been blamed for spreading the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, which caused 72 deaths.
Ms Ali said: “This issue is a matter of life and death for thousands of people.
“If there’s another fire as per Grenfell, then the government will have blood on its hands over its failure to act now.”
Housing minister, Kit Malthouse, said the government had been clear that freeholders should do all they can to protect leaseholders from additional costs.
“We remain concerned some leaseholders are not protected and find themselves in this stressful situation through no fault of their own,” Mr Malthouse added.
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Tower Hamlets has a high number of blocks affected with 41 owned privately and nine social housing.
Monday’s debate comes after 500 residents of New Providence Wharf (NPW) in Blackwall were told last month they face a bill of at least £2.5million to replace ACM cladding after the freeholder, Ballymore, refused to cover the cost.
Ms Ali said many borough residents were concerned including one who felt trapped with ‘crippling charges’.
The MP called on the government to introduce a law forcing private owners to act and set a deadline for the work to be completed.
“Freeholders are often in the shadows. If there’s no law compelling [them], it’s hardly surprising many will fail to act,” she said.
However, Mr Malthouse said the government was backing councils with financial support to take action against owners that refuse to do remedial works.
But he added that such building work was complex and took time.
On building safety, he said: “We must rebuild public trust in tribute to those who lost their lives [at the Grenfell Tower disaster], the bereaved and the survivors.”
He added that he hoped work would be completed ‘quite soon’ with additional interventions being made but would not give specific details when urged to by Ms Ali.