21 Buildings in Hounslow Borough Have Serious Fire Safety Defects

Ruth Cadbury says government has done 'too little, too late' on the issue

Cost of making buildings safe continues to fall on homeowners and leaseholders

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Figures released by Sadiq Khan have revealed that there are 21 buildings in the borough of Hounslow that have serious fire safety defects.

The failure to upgrade housing stock was highlighted following a question by Labour London Assembly Member Anne Clarke around the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy. In all over 1,000 building across the capital have been identified as containing serious defects such as flammable cladding, combustible balconies or missing fire breaks.

Residents of such buildings must be evacuated from their homes in the event of a fire, which could spread quickly, and are alerted either by a waking watch patrol or a common alarm system.

But it is the residents themselves who are often left with the financial burden of such measures, which can cost thousands of pounds.

A map of the distribution of unsafe building across London is available here.

The issue was raised in Parliament last week by Brentford & Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury who warned the government that the Building Safety crisis was not fixed, and called for urgent action to ensure that leaseholders and residents were protected from unfair and large bills.

In her speech Ms Cadbury said that many of her constituents were 'living in fear' because of the crisis, while facing 'life-changing bills that can ruin them' and which have stopped them from being able to sell their homes. She also said that recent action from the government was 'too little, too late' and claimed that there were a number of flaws in the government's support program, such as the failure to tackle high building insurance costs or non-cladding related problems in flats - such as faulty insultation or firebreaks.

She also criticised the government for its failure to make personal evacuation plans mandatory in buildings at risk from fire raising the experience of a disabled constituent and warned the government they should not leave it to private companies to decide where to put these plans in place.

In addition, she spoke about what she described as the government's ongoing failure to tackle the housing crisis, particularly for residents living in private rented accommodation. She said ''after 12 long years in power, it is clear that the Government still have no real plan to fix the housing crisis, no plan to end the injustice facing leaseholders and no plan to ensure that we build good, high-quality, truly affordable homes.''

Commenting in full after her speech Ms Cadbury said, ''Hundreds of residents across Hounslow have had their lives ruined by the building safety crisis. Leaseholders are still facing huge bills to fix problems they did not cause, and many are unable to sell their homes- leaving them trapped. There are simply too many gaps in the Governments approach and residents locally are stuck in limbo waiting for action from the Government. It's also disgraceful that the Government are letting down residents with disabilities by failing to ensure that buildings have evacuation plans.

“It's been 5 years since the horrific fire at Grenfell, yet it's clear that the Government have not acted with enough speed or urgency on the building safety crisis.

“I know from listening to people locally that they want truly affordable high quality safe housing. Yet after 12 years in power the Government have failed to fix the crisis facing leaseholders and have failed to tackle the housing crisis.''

Anne Clarke said, “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes. The Government must extend remediation support to all residential buildings with safety defects or combustible cladding, regardless of height.

“The Building Safety bill was finally passed last month, but many measures will take a year to 18 months to introduce. It's not good enough. Ministers have to act now so people aren't living in fear for another five years.”

Those living in buildings which require a 24-hour waking watch are eligible to apply for the Government's £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund which covers the cost of replacing the expensive patrols with common alarm systems.

However, just 83 grants from the fund have so far been paid out in London.

A government spokesperson said, “The Grenfell Tower tragedy must never be allowed to happen again and our thoughts are with the bereaved families, survivors and residents.

“So far 45 of the UK's biggest housebuilders have signed our developer pledge and will contribute £5 billion to fix their unsafe buildings. We expect them to work swiftly so people feel safe in their homes, and we will be carefully scrutinising their progress.

“The Building Safety Act brings forward the biggest improvements in building safety for a generation, giving more rights and protections for residents than ever before.”

Written with contributions from Joe Talora - Local Democracy Reporter

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June 17, 2022

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