A successful Liberal Democrat amendment today will force developers to take financial responsibility for unsafe buildings and ensure the Grenfell-style cladding row in Manchester is never be repeated.

In today’s full council meeting [03/02/21], Liberal Democrat Councillor Richard Kilpatrick successfully moved an amendment which will shift the financial responsibility of recladding away from residents and leaseholders to the building’s original developers.

The move will push back against corporate giants taking advantage of residents.

In 2018, Lendlease, which reported pre-tax profits of $1.2bn a year earlier, was embroiled in a Grenfell-style cladding row in Manchester for over a year when Labour awarded the company a £330m contract to refurbish Manchester Town Hall despite fierce opposition from the Liberal Democrats.

Lib Dems slammed the decision and said Lendlease should never again be awarded a council contract until they paid for renovations on their unsafe developments.

The row rumbled on until the corporate giant finally gave in and agreed to pay for recladding.

Today’s win by the Liberal Democrats will ensure residents will never be left to foot the bill again.

The Liberal Democrat amendment was accepted and the motion passed unanimously.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Manchester Councillor Richard Kilpatrick said:

“Developers in Manchester have been avoiding responsibility and passing on the costs to local people. It is crippling residents and leaving many with the choice of either facing bankruptcy or selling their home for next to nothing.

“This win by the Liberal Democrats is a clear and stark warning to greedy developers that enough is enough. We will ban these outrageous costs and force you to take responsibility, whether you like it or not.

“But we want to go further: we also want to introduce a register to ensure homes receive a fire safety rating to secure desperately needed accountability and transparency.

“Too many people have too often pledged to ensure a tragedy such as Grenfell can never happen again, but not enough people are taking real action.

“I’m pleased that Labour councillors accepted the amendment put forward by the Liberal Democrats today, given they have been less than forthcoming in standing up for residents dealing with this crisis previously.

“Together we will ensure no fire will claim more innocent lives and wreck the livelihoods of people in Manchester.”

This Council notes:

  • the tragic fire in Grenfell Tower in 2017 led to a series of events which uncovered a growing scandal of residential buildings with flammable materials, missing fire breaks, and other fire safety defects;
  • that thousands of Manchester people live in such buildings, and that number continues to rise, including disabled people who face compounding difficulties including lack of specific support for their needs, additional financial pressures, and the potential exacerbation of health conditions;
  • the outstanding support that the Manchester Cladiators and CLADDAG campaigns have been providing to many residents;
  • that many are unable to sell or re-mortgage their homes due to this situation and a broken ESW1 process;
  • the support of the Executive Member for Housing & Regeneration alongside Manchester’s Members of Parliament in putting pressure on Government to seek resolution and to protect affected Manchester People;
  • that Manchester City Council has been named an early adopter of Hackitt’s Grenfell building safety review, within which the Council aims to champion building safety, to encourage cultural change across the development industry, to ensure building safety is considered ‘upfront’ to prioritise safety now, and play an active role in developing building safety policy.

This Council believes that:

  • the cladding crisis is a scandal that punishes leaseholders and Manchester people for systemic problems with building safety regulations and methods of development in England;
  • this has a cruel effect on affected Manchester people’s mental health, leaving them in unsafe homes and facing lifechanging bills;
  • it is grossly unjust that residents who bought homes in good faith should face remediation costs;
  • the Government’s Building Safety Fund is inadequate both in scope and amount, failing to protect leaseholders from costs and to accelerate remediation;
  • the Government must right broken promises, return to the original premise that no cost is past to leaseholders, abandon ‘loan schemes’, and act quickly;
  • a viable route to remediation is for payment nationally to fall on the building industry coupled with a ‘pay now, litigate later’ approach as recently developed by the Australian Labor Party State Government in Victoria.
  • Developers who delivered dangerous and unsafe buildings due to negligence and poor workmanship should remediate this work rather than expecting leaseholders to pay.

This Council resolves to:

  • thank Manchester Cladiators and all campaigners for their efforts fighting this injustice, and to continue to support them in their campaign;
  • continue supporting the End our Cladding Scandal campaign’s 10-step plan to tackle this crisis, to which Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, the Leader, and Councillors Richards, Lyons, Wheeler, Johns, Davies, and Wright are signatories
  • ask the Chief Executive to write to the Minister for Housing Communities and Local Government to ask Government to accede to those 10 asks
  • continue providing practical support to affected Manchester people, including asking the Planning Department to prioritise applications for fire-related remediation work, asking the Executive Member for Housing & Regeneration to continue to work with local groups, and helping affected Manchester people to understand their situation;
  • continue acting inclusively on this issue, including actively involving affected disabled people, raising awareness of their specific issues
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