Councillor Jon-Connor Lyons spoke at the Full Council Meeting on the 3rd February 2021.
Councillor Jon-Connor Lyons spoke at the Full Council Meeting on the 3rd February 2021.

On the 3rd Feb meeting of Manchester City Council, Cllr Jon-Connor Lyons proposed the End Our Cladding Scandal Motion, calling for the Government to remove all dangerous cladding whilst protecting them from all associated fees, going after those in the building industry who are responsible. This followed the UK Labour Party’s opposition day motion on Monday (1st Feb):

That this House calls on the government to urgently establish the extent of dangerous cladding and prioritise buildings according to risk; provide upfront funding to ensure cladding remediation can start immediately; protect leaseholders and taxpayers from the cost by pursuing those responsible for the cladding crisis; and update parliament once a month in the form of a written ministerial statement by the Secretary of State.

Cllr Jon-Connor Lyons proposed the motion saying:

“Thousands of residents in our city, and millions across the country, are facing one of the biggest housing crises of our century. They are trapped in unsafe, unsellable combustible homes.”

“The people affected are trapped financially in unsafe homes. Many of whom have worked hard, saved for their home to now be told that its worthless and they can’t sell and move on. All whilst the service charges are dramatically increasing because of inflated insurance costs, and the short-term measures to ensure the building can be alerted if there is a fire is costing residents more than they can ever afford. They just want to live in a safe home.”

“But, as always, Mancunians have been leading the fight for justice. The Manchester Cladiators, a group of residents fighting for cladding justice in Manchester, have been organising buildings across our city and working with the Council to put pressure on the Government to bring about national legislation to end this crisis. They are volunteers who work endlessly to right a wrong and get justice for leaseholders. Cllr Marcus Johns, myself and all us in Manchester would like to say thank you for all that you have done and all that you are doing in standing up for many who’ve felt overwhelmed.”

“The Governments proposals to solve this crisis fall dramatically short. The proposed cladding tax loan scheme tells you all you need to know; the Conservatives do not wish to hold their mates in the building industry accountable but would happily allow residents to front the costs. The fire safety fund is not only a drop in the ocean when tackling this crisis, but the criteria is far too stringent. Buildings such as Skyline Central, who are already in the remediation process, buildings under 18 metres and many buildings with complex fire defects cannot apply to this fund. Even if the monetary scale of the fund was increased, it would not cover even cover a third of all the buildings affected. The Government have showed time and time again their failure to understand the issue and have failed to show compassion, refusing to even turn up to the national vote that The Labour Party forced in Parliament to end the crisis once and for all.”

“Ending this injustice is the foundation to this Manchester Labour motion and the Labour Party’s amendment that was heard on Monday that Government should act rapidly to fund the remediation work and that the costs should be recovered from the building industry.”

“Manchester Labour has been committed to this throughout and considered practical ways to support the residents we represent.”

“This includes being one of the founding members of the Inside Housings successful campaign for an ACM cladding fund for Private Blocks and continuing to be vocal supporters of the EndOurCladdingScandal as well as supporting the 10-step plan to tackle the crisis. It has included Cllr Richards regularly meeting with the Manchester Cladiators, and discussion at the September executive about facilitating planning applications related to remediation work.”

“In this motion, we call for the Government to accede to the 10 asks as laid out in the 10-step plan. That includes a national effort to replace all dangerous cladding by June 2022, it includes covering all building affected, regardless of their height and where they are up to in the remediation process. It also includes recovering the funds spent from all guilty parties, i.e. those in the building industry.”

“The Manchester Cladiators, Cllr Richards, Housing Officers, Lucy Powell and other Manchester Labour MPs have been working together to build a picture of this scandal’s impact in our city and have sought to meet the Housing Minister to discuss our situation and our demands.”

The motion (as of 3rd February) read:

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 EWS1 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.

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 and campaigning
  • ask the Executive Member to work alongside Manchester’s Members of Parliament to develop a ‘Manchester Ask’ outlining the funding required remediate affected buildings in our city, saving Manchester people from hardship, unfair cost and worse consequences.

Proposed by Councillor Johns Seconded by Councillor Jon Connor Lyons and also signed (via email) by Councillors Jeavons, Wright, Murphy, Igbon, M Dar, Douglas, Wheeler, Davies and Richards

Cllr Marcus Johns, the Labour Councillor in the city centre who wrote the motion, could not propose the motion due to being directly affected by the scandal.

Councillor Jon-Connor Lyons calling for the Government to expand the Fire Safety Fund.
Councillor Jon-Connor Lyons calling for the Government to expand the Fire Safety Fund.
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