Protest planned urging Government to hold dangerous cladding freeholders to account

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A demonstration will be held at Leeds Dock this weekend highlighting the issues around dangerous cladding on tower blocks in the city.

Hundreds of people living in Leeds are living in blocks of flats covered in “dangerous cladding”, a Leeds City Council meeting heard last November.

Councillors passed a white paper calling on the Government to provide more funding to remove flammable cladding, with the meeting heard that residents of these blockers face bankruptcy and live in "fear of another Grenfell".

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Apartment block buildings are often owned by a landlord or management company - known as the freehold.

A workman in Sheffield replaces cladding on a block of flats. (Pic: SWNS)A workman in Sheffield replaces cladding on a block of flats. (Pic: SWNS)
A workman in Sheffield replaces cladding on a block of flats. (Pic: SWNS)

These companies can collect fees from leaseholders for maintenance and upkeep of the building.

This includes paying for the removal of flammable cladding or for a 'Waking Watch', which is someone who watches the building ensure there is sufficient warning in the event of a fire.

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Earlier this year, Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn (Lab) said that despite moves from the Government earlier this year to protect the leaseholders of flats, thousands are still faced with the crippling costs of replacing potentially flammable cladding on the sides of their homes.

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He added, however, that a growing number of MPs from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s own party were beginning to side with campaigners calling for the Government to force developers to foot the bill when it comes to making their constructions safe.

Mr Benn said: “Four years on from Grenfell – a terrible tragedy – there are thousands of people in Leeds and Yorkshire living in buildings with dangerous cladding.

“They are paying for waking watches, some of them are getting demands for payment.

"Their flats are worthless, they haven’t got the money and they are in no way responsible for the situation.”

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Leaseholders and other members of the community are holding a demonstration at Leeds Dock on Saturday, July 17 in order to highlight these issues.

The rally was prompted by what the group says is the lack of support from the Government in holding those responsible to account.

This has has sparked an outcry by thousands of leaseholders who want their voices heard.

A spokesperson for the Leeds Cladding Scandal group said: “In Leeds almost every residential block of flats is affected by dangerous cladding, external wall systems, structural defects or a combination of these.

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"Most are still awaiting funding decisions; many have been told they will only receive partial funding or in some cases no funding at all.

"In these cases, the remediation bill per leaseholder ranges up to £100,000 or more.

"Until the buildings are made safe, Leeds flat owners are paying thousands per month for interim measures such as waking watches to ensure their and their family’s safety.

"Until rectified, not only are these homes dangerous but they are also worthless, leaving thousands facing the prospect of bankruptcy.

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"The government needs to act now to hold those responsible to account”.

The demonstration will be held from 1pm – 3pm.

Speakers include Hilary Benn MP and Hunslet and Riverside Councillor Paul Wray.

Leeds Cladding Scandal is working with the national #EndOurCladdingScandal Campaign to pressure the government on the recommendations set out by the cross-party Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee.