Day of Action on the 17th October for Safe Cladding and Insulation Now! Schedule, updates, and victories
- 0 am Solidarity demonstration outside UK Embassy, Brussels
- 45 for 1.0 pm Demonstrate outside Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 2 Marsham St, London SW1P 4DF, deliver Open Letter (have you signed?)
- 0 pm event in House of Commons, Committee Room 18, hosted by Emma Dent Coad, MP tickets (free; please register to ensure a space).
- 30 for 7 pm Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations public meeting, Crypt of St Peters Church, SE17 2HH tickets (free)
For months, after the horror of Grenfell, it seemed that residents of other tower blocks would be left indefinitely in buildings that could, any minute, go up in flames.
Since then, with steady pressure from Grenfell survivors, residents of the blocks, housing campaigners, Fuel Poverty Action, and social housing providers pressing central government, things have begun to change.
Thousands are still left in danger of fire and cold.
It is now essential to keep up the pressure and ensure that UK homes are safe, warm and that residents organisations are listened to — not ignored and increasingly de-resourced and disempowered.
Plans are well advanced for delivering our Open Letter to the MHCLG. There is still a little time for organisations, MPs, councillors etc, to sign it – here.
- It will be delivered with a demonstration including residents – coming from as far away as Salford and Manchester, members of the Grenfell community, a speaker from Fire Brigades Union, representatives of pensioners and disabled people – both more at risk from both fire and cold, housing organisations, and many others. To start the event, poet Potent Whisper will perform. Please try to arrive by 12.45 so we can start on time! And if you’re going on to the second event, you might want to bring a hot drink and a sandwich.
- We will then walk to the House of Commons where we’ll have more time to compare experience and discuss ways forward. It’s important to get MPs to this event — please be sure to urge yours to come – and to sign the Open Letter. Please be sure to get a ticket in case space is tight. And if you’re coming from elsewhere, remember to allow at least 15 minutes to get through security.
- Finally, we will move on to the public meeting called by Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations focusing on how residents’ organisations are being bypassed, starved of resources and disempowered, even as everyone acknowledges that residents’ voices are key to keeping buildings safe.
Support has been pouring in for this Day of Action and for the demands on the Open Letter. Trade Unions are taking up the call, in particular the FBU, PCS, BFAWU, NEU, Unite Community, and many branches and officers of Unite and Unison.
A great addition to the Day of Action is a solidarity event outside the UK embassy in Brussels, organised by Right to Energy Coalition. Their slogan: No more fire, no more cold: End Energy Poverty! Avenue d’Auderghem 10, 040 Bruxelles, Belgium
Please do what you can in this last week to rally others, contact your MP, use social media. Please see and promote the links below.
And please, if you are in London, join us on Sunday 14 October for the Silent Walk in memory of those who lost their lives at Grenfell Tower. Let us know if you can come. https://www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/
What’s been won so far:
- 11 months on from the fire, the government finally promised to fund recladding of social housing tower blocks, at an estimated £400 million.
- As of 20 September 2018, out of of 364 high residential buildings 22 have now had this work completed, plus 2 private sector blocks. 99 social and 12 private blocks have had work started.
- Many councils and housing associations have looked again at all sorts of safety issues and have acted to improve fire doors, lighting, windows, and more.
- The government have announced a ban on combustible cladding (precision) for buildings from now on
Still to be won:
- The rest of the 364 have not begun replacement, and many private blocks and student residences don’t even have works planned.
- The ban is limited in its nature and is not retrospective. Many landlords/freeholders of leasehold buildings may try to wriggle out of making their buildings safe.
- In Salford residents of 9 tower blocks were told that government money was not available because theirs was a PFI scheme, despite the fact that they were social housing tenants. Now Pendleton Together finally say they have found the money to begin the work, but residents worry: when will it happen? How cold will they be, before replacement of cladding in buildings with extremely expensive heating systems, and whatever the source of the money, will they end up paying for it?
- In response to a question prompted by Fuel Poverty Action, some housing associations in London have undertaken to cover the costs of extra heating while cladding is stripped off (it can take months or years to replace it).
- The government funding will not cover private tower blocks, schools, hospitals or workplaces, blocks under 18M high or forms of combustible cladding other than ACM.
- Nor will it help those who had no insulation to begin with – eg in Camden’s Chalcots estate, many ground floor flats never had the cladding and insulation that was installed elsewhere.
- Round the country, tenants and residents associations are being dissolved or disempowered, replaced with unelected, hand-picked “representatives”, deprived of resources and even denied use of communal rooms in their estates.
Hope to see you on October 17th!
Our mailing address is:
Fuel Poverty Action
Unit 5E Punderson Gardens
London, Greater LondonE2 9QG