Ipswich leaseholders affected by cladding scandal take to town centre
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich residents caught up in the cladding scandal took to the town centre to spread awareness of their ordeal - which has "ruined" lives and left homes virtually worthless.
Alex Dickin, 27, lives in the Cardinal Lofts apartment block on the Waterfront and formed Ipswich Cladiators six months ago.
The IT analyst started the group after it was revealed that the building is wrapped with insufficient cladding - with the financial burden for safety passed onto the leaseholders.
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017, new safety regulations have been brought in for tall apartment buildings.
Many leaseholders across the country are facing bills of thousands of pounds to remove unsuitable cladding and for 24-hour 'waking watch' services.
The Ipswich Cladiators group has been campaigning online since its formation and has attracted support from borough councillors and the town's MP, Tom Hunt.
There are 17 buildings in Suffolk known to be affected by unsafe cladding.
On Saturday, the Cladiators held a stall on the Cornhill to speak to members of the public about the issues they are facing.
Mr Dickin said: "We formed in December 2020 and we've been campaigning virtually since then. This is our first opportunity to come out and meet the public.
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"We feel there is a lack of understanding about what is going on. Some people go to sell their flats, but they find out they are worth zero.
"We plan to be doing protests - our first is on June 5.
"The aim is to target the developers who are currently trading that have built unsafe buildings."
Claire Hamblion, who is facing similar issues with her Cardinal Lofts apartment, added: "At some point we could receive a huge bill - we just don't know.
"A lot of people don't even realise they're in this situation themselves.
"We feel that the government has moved the goalposts and it's morally wrong."
Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council's portfolio holder for planning, supported the residents on Saturday.
She said: "We 100% support Ipswich Cladiators and their fight for justice. Parliament has said it will cost £15bn to put this right.
"It's absolutely wrong that this cannot be put right for the thousands of leaseholders whose lives are being ruined by a crisis not of their own making. The government needs to act."
A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: "We know many people are worried - which is why our priority is making sure residents are safe and feel safe in their homes by removing dangerous cladding from the highest risk buildings as quickly as possible backed by over £5billion.
"We have been clear throughout that owners and industry should make buildings safe without passing on costs to leaseholders - and we will ensure they pay for the mistakes of the past with a new levy and tax to contribute to the costs of remediation."