Cladding crisis 'still not resolved', say campaigners

Alex Dickin at the Cladiators rally on the Ipswich Waterfront. Picture:Sarah Lucy Brown

Alex Dickin at a previous Ipswich Cladiators rally. He called the latest news positive but insists more still needs to be done - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Campaigners in Ipswich have reacted positively to latest news that flat owners will not have to pay to remove dangerous cladding from lower-height buildings but insist the crisis "is still not resolved". 

Under new government plans, set to be announced on Monday, leaseholders in buildings between 11 and 18.5m will no longer be expected to cover the cost of the work themselves through personal loans. 

The government will instead attempt to secure £4billion from developers towards costs. 

Michael Gove, secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, is expected to announce that if developers choose not to pay for cladding removals voluntarily, then the government will threaten them with legal compulsion.

The government had previously said it would pay to remove cladding in taller buildings. 

Cardinal Lofts, Ipswich Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Cardinal Lofts, Ipswich Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The expected move means all high rises in Ipswich, including the seven medium-sized buildings left out of the previous announcement, will now be covered by funds to remove unsafe cladding. 

Flammable cladding and other fire safety defects were discovered in hundreds of tower blocks across the UK in the wake of the Grenfell fire in London - which killed 72 people in 2017. 

Alex Dickin, spokesman for campaign group Ipswich Cladiators, called the news "positive" but stressed the "picture is not complete". 

He said removing dangerous cladding is not the only fire safety issue in the town's buildings. 

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"It is a positive step in the right direction, however, it leaves all non-cladding related defects unfunded still. That's for high rises and mid rises," he said. 

"So that's timber balconies, missing fire breaks, compartmentation issues, fire doors, automatic opening vents, so anything that's more internal or not part of the cladding system, leaseholders will still face the cost of repairs. 

"The bills are still life-changing, they will still potentially cause leaseholders to lose their homes and file for bankruptcy as a result."

Alex Dickin at the Cladiators rally on the Ipswich Waterfront. Picture:Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Dickin said the group will continue its fight - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Dickin, whose own flat is based at Cardinal Lofts in the town, said the campaign group will continue its fight. 

"As the crisis is still not resolved, we will continue campaigning and we will fight to ensure that we do not pay a penny towards construction corners cut or unsafe materials in our buildings because none of that is our fault," he added. 

"Why should we pay towards any of the defects. The picture isn't complete yet." 

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