The scandal of Local Authority housingMake Text Bigger
Readers of Property 118 will recall my previous article about the terrible tragedy of Grenfell. I pointed out that the reason Tenants in Local Authority Housing suffer inferior conditions to those in the PRS, stems from the Housing act 2004 and the exemption from licensing for Local authorities. Grenfell shows us that the act needs to be urgently revisited and legislation amended to remove this exemption forthwith.
Kensington and Chelsea Council which owned Grenfell spent almost 10 Million pounds on renovations which included the installation of the Cladding, which seems to have been a contributory factor in the rapid advance of the fire. Ten million of tax payers money squandered by the Council. It gets worse , this Council has banked reserves of £300 Million. The Chief executive finally went, his salary was £180K , earning more than the PM, as do most Chief executives of Local authorities.
Moving on to other local authorities , Salford, Camden ,Newham, Tottenham , Barnet and Plymouth all have something in common. They all have their Revenue raising landlord Licensing schemes in place to safeguard tenants against all those Criminal landlords in the PRS.
These councils also have something else in common, They house their tenants in Dangerous Ghettoes. Salford has 9 tower blocks with “Grenfell” style cladding, Camden has 5 tower blocks on the Chalcots estate, clad with the same flammable material ,Newham the First council to introduce borough wide licensing for Private landlords, house tenants in 3 tower blocks with Grenfell Cladding, Plymouth have 3 tower blocks as have Barnet, cladd with the dodgy material. Tottenham has a 22 storey High rise with this cladding also. Tottenham however may take legal action against the contractor for supplying this.
All well and good, but why did their Building inspectors sign off on this sham. The Councils have all failed miserably, It transpires that Grenfell had 16 inspections. Perhaps enough evidence may not be available for many criminal prosecutions, but there needs to be a massive cull, wholesale sackings of inept complacent Council staff. Forget the cuts argument Millions of tax payers money has been literally burnt purchasing and installing what is clearly a most dangerous material, banned in the US and Germany but signed off by useless overpaid public officials in the UK.
Unfortunately the scandal does not end with the above named authorities. Up to 600 tower blocks have had cladding so while they all may not have “Grenfell” cladding, this does not mean that they are fit for residential habitation. While other cladding may have greater resistance to fires, the nature of the installation means that a gap/void is left after installation which could create a tunnel for smoke and flames to rise. Furthermore few of these buildings, if indeed any have sprinkler systems. While this disgraceful situation has persisted, Councils like Durham Prosecute a landlord because she omitted to get a reference for a tenant in a terrace.
Amend the Housing act now, and remove exemption from licensing for Councils. Where authorities claim they do not have funds to retro fit sprinkler systems, sell their assets at discounted prices to the Private sector with stipulations to ensure full compliance with Fire regs. Local authorities rather than solving Housing problems clearly are part of the problem.
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