Bid to help Ipswich residents trapped in cladding scandal rejected

Cardinal Lofts, Ipswich Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Homeowners at Cardinal Lofts in Ipswich have been affected by the cladding scandal - Credit: Archant

Changes to a law which would have protected Ipswich homeowners from paying for the costs of fire safety defects at apartment blocks has been rejected - despite backing from town MP Tom Hunt.

In Suffolk, 17 buildings are known to have insufficient cladding systems, with owners applying to the government’s building safety fund to help foot repairs. 

Cardinal Lofts, on Ipswich Waterfront, has been given 24 hour a day patrols after a fire assessment raised concern about “combustible” material on the upper floors.

Owners face a £300,000-a-year bill – equivalent to £5,600 per week – to pay for fire safety measures.

Alex Dickin of the Ipswich Cladiators group, set up to fight cladding scandal of unsafe flats. Pict

Alex Dickin is one of those who has been affected by the cladding scandal - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Members of the Ipswich Cladiators action group, such as Alex Dickin, say: “It is impossible to live peacefully in a home that may cause bankruptcy or endanger your life.”

Tom Hunt

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has rebelled against the government for a second time. - Credit: House of Commons

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has pledged to back the leaseholders and supported an amendment to the Fire Safety Bill which would have offered them protection - defying the Conservative Party whip to do so.

However, the government did not accept the change and Mr Hunt's fellow MPs did not back it in a parliamentary vote.

"This is the second time I've voted against the government on a key vote and it's not something I take lightly," he said.

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"But I've always been clear that my priority is to represent my constituents and it's possible that from time to time this will involve me voting a different way from my party colleagues.

"Over the past year the government have outlined a range of support for leaseholders (in the billions) and many of my constituents who are leaseholders have received the support they need. However, not all.

"When discussing this matter with Ipswich leaseholders, I have been clear that I do not want any leaseholder to be left behind, and sadly at this stage, many still are."

Mr Hunt said the issue was not just about cladding and added: "Many leaseholders live in properties where there are fire safety defects that need to be urgently addressed including wall insulation, fire doors, wooden balconies and fire brakes.

"These leaseholders have bought their properties in good faith and are not to blame for these fire safety defects, and I fail to see why they should be forced to saddle the costs.

"Ultimately the taxpayer shouldn't have to bear the cost of this either. Those who should pay are those who are responsible. Whether it’s the builders or the management agents."