'The fight for justice isn't over yet' says Brighton MP after fire safety bill amendments defeated

Brighton MP Caroline Lucas has condemned the Government's refusal to protect residents from having to cover the cost of fire safety work.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 11:49 am
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said the Government’s refusal to cover the costs of fire safety work could land leaseholders and tenants with bills of thousands of pounds.

On Monday night, Caroline voted for amendments to the Fire Safety Bill, which would have stopped building owners passing on the cost of fixing problems but the amendments were defeated in a vote in the House of Commons.

The Government describes the Fire Safety Bill as part of a series of changes to fire safety and building safety it is taking following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, in which 72 people died.

The Government previously announced it would make funding available to pay for combustible cladding to be removed from buildings over a certain height but other defects and those in smaller buildings would not be covered by the scheme.

Caroline said it was 'outrageous' that leaseholders were being left to pay for a problem created by central government.

Caroline said residents in developments like so many of the blocks in Brighton's New England Quarter face steeply rising costs for fire insurance, employing a 'waking watch' and increased service charges. Fire safety defects mean they cannot get EWS1 forms for fire safety, making the flats unsaleable.

Caroline added: "Many of the flats at City Point were marketed as affordable housing for key workers, who we have learned to depend on in the past year more than ever. Yet their reward from this Government is being abandoned and left with bills of many thousands of pounds to sort out a mess which is not of their making.

“The fight for justice for them isn’t over yet. The Fire Safety Bill will go back to the House of Lords and I hope the amendments to protect all leaseholders will be put back in the Bill.”

Caroline added: "The reason so many apartment blocks are fire hazards is because of government deregulation over decades, and the outsourcing of inspection to companies working for the developers themselves. For too long, developers have had too much influence over the marking of their own homework on critical safety issues and the consequence has been buildings where residents now feel unsafe.

“Central government created this problem and it is outrageous that leaseholders are being left to pay for it."