Cladding Lobby

Residents from cladded tower blocks from around the country were joined by Manchester Mayor ANDY BURNHAM (left) and London Mayor SADDIQ KHAN (front) outside Parliament

TENANTS came from all over the country to lobby Parliament yesterday demanding that the tower blocks they live in are immediately stripped of flammable cladding before another terrible fire, like the one at Grenfell Tower, breaks out.

Over fifty residents and campaigners fighting for safe homes protested in Parliament Square calling for the Tory government to take immediate action.

They shouted: ‘No to flammable cladding! Safe homes now!’

Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham set up a task force in the wake of the fire at Grenfell Tower. Burnham and Salford Mayor Paul Dennett joined the tenants outside Westminster yesterday to lobby for more funding to tackle the issue.

Ruth Guest, from the campaign group ‘Manchester Cladiators’ said: ‘I am here today to protest against the government because of the cladding crisis. This has become a cladding lottery. I bought into the dream of owning my own home, which has now become a nightmare because my property is covered in cladding.

‘The whole resolution to the problem has been delayed by inaction of those in power. Blaming freeholders and insisting that they pay is not helping the situation, because under the lease they can pass the costs on to me and I am now threatened with financial ruin.’

Meanwhile, residents living in a council block in Salford which is still wrapped in highly flammable cladding, are seeing their rents hiked up!

Residents of the Pendleton blocks, who are still waiting to have the dangerous cladding stripped, are to see rent rises of 2.7%, while average service charges will rise 4.2% for high rise blocks and 8.71% for low rises. Inflation is currently less than 2%.

While the charges increase, there is still nothing happening about the Grenfell-style cladding, only ‘a programme of works to be produced following the evaluation of tender submissions from contractors,’ states the latest Salford City Council report.

Salford City Council owns the blocks in Pendleton and they are managed by Pendleton Together. The rent hikes are based on the government formula of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of the previous September plus 1%.

Residents at these social housing properties have seen huge rent increases over the last decade, including a 7.62% rise in 2012-13, a 5.13% rise in 2014-15 and a 3.4% rise last year.

Alongside the latest increase, service charges are also to rise by an average 4.2% for high rise flats, 8.71% for low rise flats and 6.15% for sheltered accommodation.