Ipswich MP rebels against the government as cladding bill amendment fails

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

Alex Dickin of the Ipswich Cladiators group, set up to fight the cladding crisis - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

An amendment to protect leaseholders living in buildings affected by unsafe cladding and defects has failed, despite Ipswich MP Tom Hunt rebelling against the government.

The Fire Safety Bill returned to the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon from the House of Lords, with an amendment aiming to protect leaseholders from footing the bill of remedial works again rejected by MPs.

Despite 31 Conservative MPs rebelling, the motion failed by 320 to 256, a majority of 64.

This is not the first failure in a bid to make changes to the bill, with previous attempts having already failed in parliament this year. 

The Lords could again put another amendment to the Commons, while Conservative MP Liam Fox has tabled his own amendment which would protect leaseholders from forfeiture and see cases reviewed individually to determine who foots the bill.

Ipswich waterfront resident Alex Dickin said he was not surprised by the news but is hopeful that people in his position will be freed from the financial burden.

Mr Dickin, a member of the Ipswich Cladiators campaigning group, said it feels as if the pursuit for justice is becoming an "eternity".

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He said: "I was not surprised to be honest, as we didn't hear the noise we would expect nationally that MPs were coming over to our side.

"The Fire Safety Bill has now been to the houses in February, March and April.

"We are now getting closer to the end of the parliamentary session and it feels like we are going to have to face even more uncertainty."

The group would also support Dr Fox's amendment, Mr Dickin added.

Tom Hunt MP

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt was one of 31 Conservative MPs to rebel in the vote - Credit: House of Commons

Speaking after the vote, Mr Hunt said he had hoped the amendment would have been successful.

He said: "This is the second time I've voted against the government on this key issue and it's not something I take lightly – but given that there had been no material change between the last vote and this one in a way that would see many of my constituents better protected, I felt that I had to once again vote this way.  

"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. 

"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.

"Since the moment I was elected I've done everything I can to support leaseholders in Ipswich and I will continue to do so."

Ipswich Cladiators is set to host its first public event on the Cornhill on May 22, giving local people the chance to learn more about those affected by the scandal.

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