All Around the UK subcategories:
UK Towns and cities keywords:
Hundreds evacuated after Labour council dismisses cracks in tower blocks
Fight for safe homes for all
Bill Mullins, Southwark Socialist Party
Hundreds of tower block residents have been decanted by Southwark Council in south London over serious safety concerns the Labour administration initially dismissed.
As reported in the Socialist last month, a meeting took place organised by the Southwark Group of Tenants' Organisations on 17 July on behalf of residents on the Ledbury estate. We questioned the head of regeneration in Southwark, Councillor Mark Williams, about the massive cracks that had been in the blocks for over 20 years.
He indicated at the meeting that there was nothing wrong. Later on when I confronted him, he implied the concern over the issue was all down to a bunch of troublemakers.
Now the council has been forced to evacuate hundreds of residents from four blocks after a report by Arnold Tarling, a structural engineer who had also foreseen the dangers of cladding like that used on Grenfell Tower.
Tarling said the gas installations in the block represent a massive safety hazard. The Guardian reports him saying of the council "you have to question their competence." This goes back to the infamous Ronan Point disaster in east London in 1968.
A block built the same way as Ledbury - bolting concrete panels together - partially collapsed after a gas explosion, killing four. The investigation after Ronan Point said blocks built this way must either be reinforced or not have gas.
Decanted residents will want full access to all available information immediately.
If it is not possible to make the blocks safe, the council must provide quality, permanent homes in the borough without delay.
If it is possible, the council must start full repair and upgrade work - with no profiteers' corner-cutting - without delay. Residents must be given proper temporary accommodation, or a suitable permanent alternative if they prefer.
Southwark has reserves of over £187 million which it can use for this work now. And its eventual income from 'S106' payments - from private developers in lieu of their legal obligation to build 'affordable' homes - is due to total around £300 million.
There can be no excuses about austerity. Start today and send the bill to Westminster.
- In the aftermath of Grenfell, the Socialist Party has argued for residents to organise to pressure landlords for action - including withholding rent if necessary. For tips on organising and campaign resources, see 'Justice for Grenfell and safety for all'
5 Aug NHS pay: 15% for all now
13 Sep NSSN lobby of TUC
Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777
Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206
Regional Socialist Party organisers:
Eastern: 079 8202 1969
East Mids: 077 3797 8057
London: 075 4018 9052
North East: 078 4114 4890
North West 079 5437 6096
South West: 077 5979 6478
Southern: 078 3368 1910
Wales: 079 3539 1947
West Mids: 024 7655 5620
Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041