St Francis Tower flat owners take cladding fight to Westminster
PUBLISHED: 17:44 25 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:50 25 February 2020
Owners of flats in an Ipswich building with unsafe cladding have marched on Westminster today supported by the town’s MP Tom Hunt.
Philip Maricic and fellow leaseholders of apartments in St Francis Tower joined hundreds of protestors outside Parliament for the 'End Our Cladding Scandal' demonstration.
Scaffolding went up around the tower today, with workers spotted on site in Franciscan Way this afternoon, though the block's managing agents are yet to clarify what is happening there.
Last week, Mr Maricic said he had heard scaffolding was going up soon, and the building's current owners said work to replace the cladding would begin in the new year.
Mr Maricic is facing a bill of more than £50,000 for the two flats he owns in St Francis Tower - and recently revealed fears that the cost of cladding repairs on the tower will continue to rise.
In 2018, it emerged cladding on the tower - which has 116 flats - had failed a fire safety test triggered by the Grenfell tragedy.
A tribunal heard the high pressure laminate cladding in place on the block had the ability to produce two-thirds more heat than petrol.
Speaking after the march, the 66-year-old said the protest was well-attended - adding that it was good to see so many MPs there.
"It was a good gathering and supported by our MP Tom Hunt," he said.
"There were rousing speeches from Andy Burnham and Hilary Benn."
Ahead of the demonstration, Mr Hunt said: "I am supporting the leaseholders from St Francis Tower at Tuesday's march because I feel they have a right to answers.
"I am determined to fight their corner - they deserve clarity on what's going to happen to the building and to the service charge they're currently being asked to pay.
Afterwards, he added: "There were easily a couple of hundred people there along with Sadiq Khan, mayor of London and Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.
"There were about 20 MPs and various people there affected by the issue at St Francis Tower.
"I got the chance to speak to them about their concerns which was good."
St Francis Tower's managing agents Block Management UK Ltd have been approached for comment.
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