MP: Government's flammable cladding failure is ruining lives

Andrew Rosindell rebelled against his party this week and voted to protect leaseholders in flammable buildings.

Andrew Rosindell MP rebelled against the government this week and backed a proposal to protect leaseholders in flammable buildings from huge bills. - Credit: Ken Mears

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell says his colleagues are "ruining people’s lives” and potentially bankrupting tens of thousands of people by failing to protect leaseholders in unsafe buildings.

The Conservative MP rebelled against his party this week and backed a bid to shield flat-owners from the "phenomenal” costs of fire safety improvements.

The bid failed but Mr Rosindell said he would keep fighting.

He told the Romford Recorder: “If they insist on taking these (fire safety) measures, I’m afraid the government is going to have to stump up the cash and then recoup the money from developers. You need to take the leaseholders out of the equation.”

After the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, stricter building regulations meant many formerly compliant buildings were no longer up to fire safety standards. 

Mr Rosindell said he had heard from many Romford leaseholders who were affected, including at the Axis development in Mercury Gardens.

“They are distraught,” he said. “It’s basically ruining people’s lives. If you buy a property and all of a sudden are told you’ve got to pay £50,000 for something that’s completely not your fault – it's not really on.”

Mr Rosindell said who should pay was a judgement call in each individual case.

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“But one thing is for certain,” he added. “The people that have bought the leases are not to blame. It’s not their fault and we are passing the problem down to them.”

Government has created a £5billion fund to cover remedial works, but only those in buildings over 18 metres are eligible.

“The government is putting in a huge amount, but it doesn’t cover everybody,” said Mr Rosindell. “There are gaping holes. It’s no good helping some people and leaving other people to swing.”

He said he felt government was “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.

“I’m not convinced that you can just replace all these things,” he explained. “It has to be done over time. 

“What happened at Grenfell, the cladding made far worse than it should have been - and of course we need to gradually replace all of this. But we can’t bankrupt tens of thousands of people in this way.

“As tragic as it was, that doesn’t mean we extend the tragedy to innocent people that bought in good faith and suddenly find themselves lumbered with tens of thousands of pounds in extra costs.”

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