Calls for 'transparency and clarity' as safety minister visits St Francis Tower

Four people, including Lord Greenhalgh and Tom Hunt, at a meeting about cladding with residents

Lord Greenhalgh and MP for Ipswich Tom Hunt with residents of St Francis Tower and cladding campaigners - Credit: Tom Hunt

Conditions at an Ipswich tower block are "one of the worst examples" seen as calls for urgent action grows louder.

Cladding issues in Ipswich were presented to the Minister for Building Safety Lord Greenhalgh at St Francis Tower alongside MP for Ipswich Tom Hunt to meet with residents and campaigners.

Following the visit, Mr Hunt said that Lord Greenhalgh referred to the conditions in St Francis Tower as "one of the worst examples he had seen, with much of the natural light blocked and windows unable to open fully" due to the shrink-wrapping used. 

Little progress has been made at the central tower block, despite high-profile campaigning and a call-out in parliament. 

Resident Caroline Hayden-Knowell showed both men around St Francis Tower and said: "The Minister firmly understood the situation we face here in St Francis Tower and joins Tom in being keen to do something about it urgently. 

"I know they both want to see better regulations and I felt heard following these discussions. 

"I hope that the visit will result in active changes and I will continue to work with Tom going forward."

Residents and parliament representatives at a round table about cladding issues in Ipswich

Little progress has been made at St Francis Tower despite calls for clarity and transparency - Credit: Tom Hunt

And Alan Mison, a resident at one of the Orwell Quay blocks being remediated, said: "My personal opinion was that the Minister wanted to cut through the red tape and see action quickly.  

"I know how important it is that transparency and clarity, two words we don't here often, are at the forefront of all actions going forward." 

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Alex Dickin from Ipswich Cladiators added: "We are thankful and feel it is really significant to have the visit in Ipswich, considering it has a small number of remediation works in comparison to other cities." 

Mr Hunt continued: "We must see more scrutiny on the actions of those in charge of these works. 

"They cannot be allowed to follow their own timescales without any consideration for the residents living there.  

"I know there is a voluntary code of practice, but it is obvious that many companies do not follow it. 

"I join calls that we must professionalise the industry and set out a clear code of practice that is legally enforceable. 

"I also welcome the discussions across the sector that call for an independent body to oversee these companies and their remediation work, from concept to completion.  

"Nobody else should have to go through what some of my constituents have had to in recent months."

St Francis Tower block Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

St Francis Tower block has been covered in "shrink wrap" since 2021 - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND