Hundreds in Surrey still living with Grenfell-style cladding, says Councillor
Almost four years on from the Grenfell tower disaster, in which 72 people died, hundreds of people across Surrey are still living in properties with similar flammable cladding.
Surrey Labour county councillor Robert Evans says the government has taken its eye off this serious matter and analysis shows many thousands of homes across Surrey are likely to be still affected by the cladding crisis.
Guildford’s Conservative MP Angela Richardson speaking in the house of commons this week referred to one of her constituents,
’Jasmin is a single mum who, bought a flat through a shared ownership scheme and works hard with a dream of fully owning it and having something to pass on to her daughter one day. The four-year-old building that she lives in has failed to receive a EWS1 form because of insulation under the cladding.’
‘She is very concerned that all the time, energy and effort she has put in could leave her bankrupted if she is presented with a bill for remediation and stuck if she is unable to be sell. This has been made more difficult by the fact that the housing association has been silent and the developers have refused responsibility for remediation’.
‘This is a harrowing tale but one I have heard over and over again,’ said Robert Evans. ‘Disgracefully, and despite her intervention Ms Richardson and none of her Surrey MP colleagues voted for compensation for those affected,’ complained Cllr Evans.
The parliamentary motion called for immediate upfront funding to remove cladding and implement laws to protect leaseholders from bearing costs for remedial work. All eleven Surrey Conservative MPs abstained on this crucial matter.
According to figures used in the debate, at least 22 buildings in Surrey are still waiting to have dangerous cladding removed. Working on average occupancy, this implies ‘hundreds of Surrey people may be living in unsafe properties,’ said Robert Evans.
‘Only a handful of the county’s buildings have been fixed so far. Families affected by this crisis cannot sell their homes and have had to endure months of lockdown in unsafe flats,’ said Cllr Evans. ‘It’s a national disgrace!.’
As the government has repeatedly delayed any action, many leaseholders have been forced to pay thousands of pounds for 24-hour ‘waking watches’. Across the Surrey as a whole, there are at 5 buildings with waking watches, according to data released by the Labour Party today.
Robert Evans says, ‘This has gone on for far too long and is causing misery to many people.’
‘This crisis is affecting home owners but it’s not one of their making. They have been let down all along by people they should have been able to trust.’
‘I have heard some distressing stories from people in Surrey, who are being asked to pay thousands of pounds in fire watch fees and remediation bills that they cannot afford, all while locked down in dangerous buildings.’
‘Additionally, no-one in these affected properties can move on or sell their home.’ The Conservative government needs to accept that this is their responsibility and take immediate action to ensure everyone has a safe, secure place to live.’
For more information, contact Robert Evans 07785 290546
Member of Surrey County Council
Stanwell and Stanwell Moor
m: 07785 290546
Statement from the Labour Group on
Spelthorne Borough Council’s Leadership Election on 25th June 2020.
Labour shock as Spelthorne Liberal Democrats
cave in toTory plan’
Spelthorne Council was plunged into chaos and ‘no overall control’ on 11 June, when former leader Clr Ian Harvey and five of his colleagues left the Conservatives to form a new anti-Tory group.
In a statement on the election of a new Council Leader on 26 June 2020, the Liberal Democrats claim ‘they have had discussions with all political groups to see if any alternative administration could be formed’ and ‘were unable to find a way of forming a stable administration by joining with a combination of these groups.’
Spelthorne Labour Group would like to elaborate on what actually transpired in their discussions with the LibDems.
During our negotiations with the LibDems, they indicated that they wanted to put forward a bid for Leadership of the Council and would vote against a Conservative Leadership and in favour of a motion of no confidence against Cllr. Harvey.
This would leave the Council in a position of no overall control. They would then request an adjournment of the meeting for a period of two weeks whereupon all parties would negotiate and the Lib Dems would put forward their candidate for Leader of the Council.
As a Labour Group, naturally we were very disappointed when Liberal Democrat councillors abstained on Cllr John Boughtflower’s bid for Leadership of the Council, thereby enabling the Conservatives to form a minority administration.
The LibDems have exposed themselves as willing to prop up a minority Conservative administration justified in their statement by nebulous assurances about the Conservatives delivering change, with no policy detail provided. In their statement of 26th June 2020, the Lib Dems indicate that during their ‘discussions with the Conservatives, they were assured that they would be bringing forward a number of changes that we have been pushing for since the elections in May 2019. We have been led to expect a better, more transparent Council administration, with improved accountability across the board on Council matters.’
Labour on the other hand, by voting against Cllr Boughtflower’s
Leadership have sent a clear signal that we will not support a Conservative administration given their appalling record of governance in Spelthorne including speculative property acquisitions, a dire lack of affordable and social housing and being rated the least climate-friendly council in the country - to name but a few reasons. Labour has long since opposed the reckless borrowing by Spelthorne Council and felt there was an opportunity to put in place an alternative to the Conservatives.
Apart from personality issues, it was clear that Cllr Harvey’s property speculating when he was leader, was a big factor in the Conservative split. Despite being one of the smallest councils in the country, Spelthorne had run up a £1 billion debt based on borrowing government money to buy property. The House of Commons has since launched a committee of enquiry into these deals.
The Spelthorne Conservative Association has a track record of in-fighting and disputes. In 2015 and again in 2019, Conservative councillors left the group to fight as independents. This time Ian Harvey and his colleagues blamed bullying within the party and the council group, as reasons for the split.
Labour believes the remaining group of Conservative councillors should not have been given the green light by the Lib Dems to carry on as if nothing has happened.
The Tories are not fit for office and should have been shown the door.
It’s a shock and bitterly disappointing that the Lib Dems have let down so many residents.
Needless to say, Labour Councillors will continue to fight for policies that benefit Spelthorne residents including a much needed increase in affordable and social housing, protection of the greenbelt and the environment, and growth of the local economy.
Cllr Veena Siva (leader)
Cllr Jenny Vinson
Cllr Sue Doran
Cllr John Doran
Spelthorne Labour Council Group
WELL DONE LABOUR!
Council estate built
by Labour run Norwich council, wins Riba
Stirling prize for
Norwich's £17m scheme of 105 homes - a mix of 45 one-bedroom flats, 40 two-bedroom houses, three two-bedroom flats and five four-bedroom flats, is the first development of its sort ever to claim the prize.
The innovative £17m project was awarded the highest honour of the Royal Institute of British of Architects, becoming the first development of its sort ever to claim the prize. The homes, owned and managed by Norwich City Council, are rented out to people with a housing need.
Ever since the Tory government of the 1980s prevented councils from reinvesting funds from the sale of their council flats into building new housing, it had lacked the resources to do so. But, like a number of local authorities, Norwich found a way, using a mix of borrowing, funds from its housing revenue account.
They are not homes that fit into the murky class of “affordable”, or the multitude of “intermediate” tenures. This is proper social housing, rented from the council with secure tenancies at fixed rents. Not only that, it is some of the most energy-efficient housing ever built in the UK, meeting the exacting German passivhaus standards – which translates into a 70% reduction in fuel bills for tenants.
By contrast, compare Spelthorne’s Tory run councils feeble attempt to fulfil its “statutory obligations” to house the homeless, by planning to build a 27 bed hostel at the cost of around £6 million, and then handing it over to the Salvation Army to run!
Socialism is part of the 21st century's zeitgeist!
Only Labour can bring in a new Utopia?
Communism failed, neoliberalism, with the crash of the financial sector in 2008 failed. Capitalism in its present form will also fail, due to the fast rate of technical advancement.
In 1926 Henry Ford (Founder of Ford Motor Company) became the first to implement a five-day work week. He discovered that a shorter working week increased productivity, and workers with more leisure time were more likely to buy cars.
In the 1960 s Henry Ford’s grandson gave union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the companies automated factory, he jokingly asked, “Walter how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues.?” He quickly replies “Henry how are you going to get them to buy your cars?”
How things have moved on since then, we now have driverless cars and chess legend Garry Kasparov was beaten by a computer in 1997, it was the size of a tennis court. Sixteen years later a new computer came on the market, play station 4, a fraction of the price and twice as powerful. The new generation of robots are proxies not only for our muscle power but for our mental capacity, too.
It’s already happening in our high streets, with shops closing because more people are buying on line. Banks are closing on our high streets, due to on line banking and those remaining have fewer staff. In supermarkets more people are checking their own goods out, thus less staff will be needed.
Capitalism, in its effort to reduce labour costs by the use of technology, in order to increase profits, is killing its own markets. Henry Ford discovered that for capitalism to survive it requires people with money in their pockets and enough leisure time to spend it.
It is estimated that 54% of all jobs in Europe will be replaced by machines in the next 20 years.
Although employees have been worrying for the past 200 years, new jobs materialised to take their place. But now in the new century robots have suddenly picked up pace.
Today the new jobs are at supermarkets, fast-food chains, and nursing homes, but for how long will they be safe? As a French economist put it; "that if we continue down our current path we will soon find ourselves back in the rentier society of the Gilded Age. A minority of people who owned capital (stocks, houses, machines) enjoyed a much higher standard of living." More people will be forced into today's version of the Victorian slums, HMOs ( homes of multiple occupancy), with many living in small ensuite rooms, with shared kitchens.
Unless there is a resurgence of strong inclusive growth, high taxation on capital, or World War III, if nothing is done, inequality could reach frightening proportions.
An idea that is gaining traction is for a universal basic income for everyone, a shorter working week, and the eradication of poverty. Finland and Canada have announced large experiments, In the Netherlands twenty municipalities are putting basic income into action. The organization Give Directly is launching a major basic income study in Kenya. It is also catching on in a big way in Silicon Valley, and even the American Democrats are slowly voicing socialist policies.
Only the Labour Party, has the right credentials to make it happen here, and the proposed four day week by Labour is a move in the right direction. It wont happen overnight, but a Utopia where all benefit from technological advancement, and not suffer from it, is urgently needed.
The above article does not necessarily express the view of the Labour Party.
Informed and Inspired by, Utopia For Realists by: Rutiger Bregman.
Under the Tories, close to 1000 Sure Start centres have been closed nationwide.
Nationally, Labour will ensure guaranteed adequate funding for schools, teachers and rescources, to create a world class service. Labour supports ‘Life Long Learning’
“Labour will lobby the council to reopen the Sure Start Centres closed since 2010,ensuring that children are given the best start in life thereby reducing inequalities when they start school” Between 2010 and 2018, overall school funding per pupil has been cut by 8%.
Locally, Spelthorne Labour Party will push for access to
more 6th form provision within the borough.