Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and City Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett are calling on the government to take immediate action to support high rise residents living in unsafe buildings.
In the wake of the Grenfell tragedy in June 2017, Greater Manchester’s leaders took action and formed the Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force and hold regular Residents Forums to hear from the people living in high rise buildings across the city-region.
After hearing the growing concerns of high rise residents in Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and Paul Dennett are taking this issue to Parliament before the government sets its 2020/21 Budget on Wednesday 11 March, making sure that the voices of affected residents are heard by those with the power to change the law and fix what is an industrial scale regulatory crisis within the UK.
On Tuesday 25 February the Mayor and Paul Dennett will gather with Greater Manchester and London high rise residents and other activists outside Westminster from 1pm. The lobby will highlight the human impact of the ongoing crisis and give those present an opportunity to share their experiences and concerns. The lobby will call on government to do more to support those living in negative equity and in potentially dangerous high rise buildings not only in Greater Manchester but across the country.
Attending the event at Westminster will be members of The Manchester Cladiators, a group of residents formed in Greater Manchester to highlight the post-Grenfell plight of many living in high rise buildings - they said: “The current situation for leaseholders is dire – we are trapped in potentially dangerous buildings, facing huge life changing bills from building owners while living in flats we cannot sell. It is having a significant and very real impact on our mental health. Some residents are facing financially crippling costs of up to £80,000 just to make their homes safe, when it should not be residents who pick up the bill.
“We came together as Manchester Cladiators to support each other and to lobby the only party that can make this change happen - Government. We have been inundated with requests for help from other northern towns and cities and last week we have grown to establish Northern Cladiators to provide a larger voice for the north. This issue is growing and the impact is becoming harder to bear for leaseholders.
“This is why we are attending the event in Westminster next week, which is a significant opportunity to ensure our experiences are heard far and wide – because this crisis is a national crisis. There are high rise buildings just like ours right across the UK. The government’s response since Grenfell has been far too slow and they need to be told that we will continue our fight until at the very least a no-strings attached building safety fund is made available to all high rise leaseholders to make our homes safe at no cost to residents.”
The Westminster lobby comes as part of the ongoing work of the Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force, set up by Andy Burnham after the Grenfell Tower Fire. Chaired by Salford Mayor, Paul Dennett, the Task Force brings together the fire service, local authorities, landlords, building control, senior civil servants, universities and other specialists to provide a co-ordinated response to the risk in high-rise residential buildings.
At a recent resident’s forum in Manchester on Thursday 23 January, some of the residents living in high-rise accommodation spoke about their ongoing financial worries, their daily concerns about fire safety in their homes and their ongoing concerns that there has not been enough progress since the Grenfell Tower fire to deliver financial solutions and safer cladding coupled with improved regulations.
Andy Burnham said: “The Government needs to take action in the forthcoming Budget. They are living a nightmare at the moment and should not be left in this limbo a moment longer. Every week that the Government fails to act is a week where many will face another bill that they can’t afford. This is why we are holding a lobby of Parliament on 25 February. Our residents’ lives are being ruined through no fault of their own. The Government need to hear their experiences and concerns and support residents by making a package of financial and mental health support available.”
Paul Dennett said: “Over two years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, Greater Manchester still has 78 buildings that have adopted interim measures because of significant fire safety deficiencies.
“It is wholly unacceptable that residents are still left ‘trapped’, many are unable to sell, insure or re-mortgage their homes and are faced with bankrupting bills just to make their homes safe from fire. The Government must own their rhetoric, they said residents and leaseholders shouldn’t be paying for the remediation of their buildings yet they continue to do so. This is a regulatory crisis on an industrial scale of which residents continue to pay the price.”
In the next few days, prior to the lobby the High Rise Task Force will also be releasing the Greater Manchester High Rise Residents Report, following a survey they carried out on residents last year. The report findings show new insights into the fire safety concerns and financial burdens faced by residents, demonstrating the severity of the issues residents continue to deal with.