Residents living in tower blocks across Salford travelled to London yesterday to demand the removal of dangerous cladding from their tower blocks.
They joined dozens of protesters from across the country, who gathered outside the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
They handed in a letter with 140 signatures to the Secretary of State for the department, James Brokenshire. Signatories include survivors of the Grenfell fire, trade unions and politicians.
It demands that the government pay for all social and private homes to have dangerous cladding removed.
A spokesperson for MHCLG said:
“Nothing is more important than supporting the survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and ensuring people are safe in their homes.
“We are fully funding the estimated £400m bill to remove unsafe cladding from high-rise council and housing association buildings.
“A number of private sector developers have already agreed to foot the bill, and we urge others to do the same. If they don’t, we have not ruled anything out.”
The protest also highlighted the large sums of money being requested from private tenants to remove the cladding on their homes.
Beverley Logue, a private tenant in the Green Quarter of Manchester, said:
“We’re being taken to court by the freeholders of Vallea Court and Cypress Place and are waiting for the bills to drop through our doors in the next month.
“We are expecting in excess of £3m for the remediation works as we know it, but there may be other issues with the insulation behind the cladding.
“£3m is probably a low estimate…until those bills drop through the door we have no idea.”
Campaigners marched towards Parliament, where they were invited to a meeting attended by Rebecca Long-Bailey, MP for Salford and Eccles, who expressed her frustration with the issue. She said:
“I’ve now reached the point of desperation and feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall.
“From the very first day after Grenfell, our local authority stepped in and said they were going to take immediate action.
“However, we’re twelve months on and we still haven’t seen the work take place.
“The government has completely absolved itself of all responsibility when it should be treating it as a national emergency.
Emma Dent-Coad, the MP for Kensington and Chelsea, whose constituents include survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire.
She also blasted the local and national government’s response to the tragedy, saying:
“I’ve been dealing with this pretty much non-stop for the last 16 months now.
“I’m so fed up of listening to those in authority who have nothing to do with the fire…pronouncing that everyone should wait.
“They have absolutely no understanding and many of them genuinely do not care.”
Graeme Langton, the suspended chair of Malus Court Tenants’ and Residents’ Association in Salford, called for a height restriction for the disabled, the elderly and homes with multiple children. He said:
“Legislation for people with disabilities, children and mental health issues needs to be urgently looked at.
“Imagine a fire where there’s an 80-year-old woman on the 20th floor of a block of flats, she’s in a wheelchair, it would take a few firemen to carry her down.”
“It doesn’t make sense.”
Residents in Salford continue to wait for dangerous cladding to be removed and replaced.