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Angry leaseholders protest in London one day after tower blaze

·2-min read

A crowd of leaseholders took to the streets in London to demand an end to the “cladding scandal” a day after a fire at a building bearing the same cladding as Grenfell Tower.

More than 100 people gathered at the Isle of Dogs urging politicians to do more to protect leaseholders who face financial hardship in the face of huge bills.

The demonstration that followed numbered around 160 at one stage, while Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs and Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse Apsana Begum also attended.

A woman in a purple coat and a black mask holds a white sign with red writing, as does a man in a black jacket and a black face mask with glasses, while a man in a grey jacket holds a white sign with black writing
(Harry Scoffin)

Some came from as far away as Ipswich to join the protest, while signs read “Jenrick Time To Act!” and “End Our Cladding Scandal!”.

“We had honking horns, the police were very fair with us,” campaigner Harry Scoffin, 26, told the PA news agency.

“They came, spoke to some of the councillors and worked out what kind of event it was. It was a peaceful event.

“The main message is that leaseholders shouldn’t pay for these remediation bills.”

Remediation work includes the removal of unsafe cladding from buildings, but while the Government had insisted that leaseholders would not bear the cost of removing the flammable materials, critics say the Fire Safety Bill will leave some people liable for costs of up to £50,000.

Signs held by protesters, which read 'END OUR CLADDING SCANDAL' and 'ENOUGH IS ENOUGH' - A woman with her head covered, wearing a light blue mask, holds a sign with yellow writing on a black background. To her right, a woman wearing a black mask and a brown coat holds a cardboard sign with blue lettering
(Harry Scoffin)

Mr Scoffin said some of those involved in the protest had been affected by the fire at an east London block near Canary Wharf on Friday morning, adding that it was one of a number of factors behind the timing of the demonstration.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said two adults had been taken to hospital after suffering the effects of smoke inhalation and a further 38 adults and four children were treated at the scene of the incident.

Approximately 22% of the building’s facade features aluminium composite material polyethylene (ACM PE) cladding panels, which were found to be a key factor in the 2017 Grenfell fire.

However, building developer Ballymore said the cladding did not combust and “played no part” in causing the fire.

Ballymore also said that work to replace the cladding was “under way” and the main contractor had been due to take possession of the site on Monday.

A sign held by a protester, protesting against the cost of waking watches - it says '£67k + Waking Watch - Mental Health'
(Harry Scoffin)

“There’s a lot of anger and upset among people who think that they are being forced into bankruptcy, forced into financial hardship, and being forced to live in these really dangerous buildings with their children,” said Ritu Saha, co-founder of the UK Cladding Action Group.

“They organised it really quickly, it was very well managed – because of the strength of feeling, we had lots of people coming down.”

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