Political parties unite to lobby government over cladding crisis impact on Ipswich flats
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich councillors from across the political divide have united in backing more than 1,800 Ipswich flat residents in their plight to seek answers to the country's cladding crisis.
Ipswich Borough Council unanimously backed a motion at its meeting on Wednesday night calling for the government to take action on supporting families affected by the crisis, in which flammable cladding materials have put thousands of homes at risk.
The Ipswich Cladiators group indicates that 1,800 flats across 12 buildings in town are at risk, which has caused knock-on problems for landlords, building owners and tenants.
Among them are the prohibitive costs of employing 24-hour fire watches on affected buildings, insurance premium increases between 500% and 1,000%, safety fears, and the prospect of bankruptcy for those whose homes have effectively lost any value and are unable to be sold.
Wednesday's motion means the council will write to the government calling for the costs of interim safety measures to be covered, support for all buildings from the Buildings Safety Fund - regardless of height, mental health support for those affected, and underwriting insurance premiums as a last resort.
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The cladding crisis emerged as a national issue following the Grenfell Tower Tragedy on June 14, 2017, in which 72 people died when a fire left them unable to escape.
Councillors agreed to cast aside political differences and unite in lobbying the government for the much-needed changes.
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Labour councillor John Cook, who put forward the motion, said: "This situation is getting worse day by day.
"Ipswich residents' mental health is suffering, Ipswich residents' financial means are suffering terribly, and the longer this goes on the more people will be driven into bankruptcy.
"We need to prevent longer lasting harm coming to those people and of course keep our residents safe."
Conservative group leader Ian Fisher said government measures to date were "a good starting point but does not go far enough".
He added: "It's difficult to put yourself in the shoes of someone who goes to bed worrying every night about safety and financial impacts of paying for the remedial work."
Councillor Oliver Holmes from the Liberal Democrat cohort, said: "The cladding scandal affects many Ipswich residents.
"The sad fact is the recent package of measures which has been brought forward by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government is wholly inadequate."