Ipswich MP secures debate over St Francis Tower 'shrink wrap'

St Francis Tower block Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

St Francis Tower block has been covered in "Shrink Wrap" since 2018 - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has secured a parliamentary debate on the effects of remediation work on people who live in high-rise tower blocks, such as St Francis Tower in Ipswich. 

The tower has been covered in plastic sheeting since its cladding was removed in the wake of the Grenfell tower disaster in 2018. 

The debate will be taking place on March 2 and will last an hour and a half. The relevant minister will have to attend. 

The view from behind the shrink wrap at St Francis Tower

The view from behind the shrink wrap at St Francis Tower - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Mr Hunt said: “I applied for the debate due to what has happened with St Francis Tower.

"For over eight months a massive shrink wrap has covered the building meaning that hundreds of my constituents have been having to put up with unacceptable living conditions, with virtually no natural light or fresh air.

"I still haven't been provided with a concrete timeline for when the shrink wrap will come off, despite agitating consistently for much of the past year.”

The shrink wrap covering St Francis Tower in Ipswich has come off in Storm Eunice

The shrink wrap covering St Francis Tower in Ipswich partially tore off in Storm Eunice - Credit: Adam Rake/Cory Brothers

He continued: “Other residents across town are also having to confront the same sorts of issues.

"Some building managers are proposing netting material that is marginally better than the shrink wrap on St Francis Tower but I still think there is a way to go.”

Tenants have complained about living in the tower, saying that since the plastic went on it has been "like a prison cell" and "dark gloomy, and extremely depressing".

The view from behind the shrink wrap

Residents described life in the shrink-wrapped tower block as "dark gloomy, and extremely depressing". - Credit: Charlotte Bond

In addition to this, complaints have been made that the tower is now becoming a haven for criminal elements, with one resident saying: "there are always police cars outside, or you see groups of officers running up and down the stairs.

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"It feels lawless at times.” 

Tenants say seeing police outside the building is a common sight at St Francis Tower

Tenants say seeing police outside the building is a common sight at St Francis Tower - Credit: Caroline Haydon-Knowell

St Francis's managing agent, BMUK, which does not own the block but runs it on behalf of the leaseholders and the freeholder, said tenants had been evicted in 2018 and 2019 for prostitution and antisocial behaviour, but that legislation introduced during the pandemic had made it difficult for landlords to get rid of troublesome renters. 

They said indoor CCTV footage from across 2020 and 2021 showed people in the block injecting drugs, chasing each other with fire extinguishers and smearing excrement up the walls. 

But they added that the scaffolding had created CCTV blackspots — meaning it was hard to track down the culprits responsible.