METRO Mayors Andy Burnham and Paul Dennett are joining the Manchester Cladiators and high-rise residents to demand Government action to support people living in unsafe buildings.
They will join residents from London and other activists in Westminster on Tuesday 25 February to lobby Parliament and present their concerns.
The lobby aims to highlight the human impact of the ongoing crisis over building safety and the use of dangerous cladding that has emerged in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire of June 2017.
Residents not only face the daily fear of living in potentially unsafe buildings; they also face the prospect of being billed thousands of pounds to meet the costs of making them safe. Unsurprisingly, the crisis has wiped out the re-sale value of the properties, leaving residents trapped in negative equity.
Manchester Cladiators was formed after the Grenfell tragedy by a group of high-rise residents from Greater Manchester to highlight the plight of those living in high-rise buildings.
A spokesperson said: “The current situation for leaseholders is dire – we are trapped in potentially dangerous buildings, facing huge life changing bills from building owners while living in flats we cannot sell.
“It is having a significant and very real impact on our mental health. Some residents are facing financially crippling costs of up to £80,000 just to make their homes safe, when it should not be residents who pick up the bill.
“We came together as Manchester Cladiators to support each other and to lobby the only party that can make this change happen — Government. We have been inundated with requests for help from other Northern towns and cities and last week we have grown to establish Northern Cladiators to provide a larger voice for the North. This issue is growing, and the impact is becoming harder to bear for leaseholders.
“This is why we are attending the event in Westminster next week, which is a significant opportunity to ensure our experiences are heard far and wide – because this crisis is a national crisis.”
The Westminster lobby is part of the ongoing work of the Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force. This was set up by GM mayor Andy Burnham after the Grenfell fire. It is chaired by Salford mayor, Paul Dennett.
The task force brings together the fire service, local authorities, landlords, building control, senior civil servants, universities and other specialists to provide a co-ordinated response to the risk in high-rise residential buildings.
The two mayors were spurred to take this issue to Parliament after hearing the growing concerns of residents in the city region during a residents’ forum in late January.
“The Government needs to take action in the forthcoming Budget,” Burnham said. “Residents are living a nightmare… and should not be left in this limbo a moment longer.
“Every week that the Government fails to act is a week where many will face another bill that they can’t afford. This is why we are holding a lobby of Parliament on 25 February. Our residents’ lives are being ruined through no fault of their own. The Government need to hear their experiences and concerns and support residents by making a package of financial and mental health support available.”
Dennett added: “Over two years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, Greater Manchester still has 78 buildings that have adopted interim measures because of significant fire safety deficiencies.
“It is wholly unacceptable that residents are still left ‘trapped’, many are unable to sell, insure or re-mortgage their homes and are faced with bankrupting bills just to make their homes safe from fire.
“The Government must own their rhetoric. They said residents and leaseholders shouldn’t be paying for the remediation of their buildings yet they continue to do so. This is a regulatory crisis on an industrial scale of which residents continue to pay the price.”
The Cladiators’ spokesperson added: “There are high rise buildings just like ours right across the UK. The Government’s response since Grenfell has been far too slow and they need to be told that we will continue our fight until at the very least a no-strings attached building safety fund is made available to all high rise leaseholders to make our homes safe at no cost to residents.”