Lewisham Council have released details of cladding issues at two towers in New Cross; they are

  • 1–48 Hatfield Close, SE14
  • 49–96 Hatfield Close, SE14

Residents will stay in the buildings and fire prevention measures increased. A new-build estate has recently been constructed around the towers, though it is clad in brick.

120 blocks have so far been tested nationwide, and 100% have failed with inadequate and flammable cladding. Astonishing numbers. One thing that has gained publicity recently is moves in 2005 when Labour changed regulations and took safety checks away from the Fire Brigade into the hands of people and developers with no qualifications.

The Conservatives have blamed Labour for this, yet have done nothing the past seven years. I think most people realise Labour were pretty hopeless with housing when in power. They built almost no social housing, put housing provision mostly in the hands of private developers who never built anywhere near the levels needed (compare building rates in the 2000s with the 1930s, 1950s, 1970s etc – it was around half those levels as the population shot up), and did almost nothing for tenants whilst numbers of private tenants increased rapidly.

Labour also oversaw deregulated finance in numerous areas, supported by the Tories. By the time of the 2008 crash more than 50% of all mortgages were being offered with no checks on income, aka “self-certification”. Sub-prime lending was NOT just an American phenomenon as many like to suggest. Self-cert mortgages were been dubbed “liar loans” because they allowed applicants to self-declare their earnings. It was self-certification that also happened when it came to checking fire regulations in 2005. The Tories did nothing to rectify these fire checks since gaining power.

The Tories disinterest in housing has continued post election. They didn’t appoint a Housing Minister for many days after other posts were filled. The previous Minister, Gavin Barwell, lost his seat and was promptly made chief of staff to Teresa May, despite a legacy of failure as Housing Minister. He blocked plans allowing Local Authorities to have greater oversight over private landlords. He oversaw low levels of building, as all Housing Ministers (and there’s been many) have over the past three decades, which is one reason there’s such an issue re-homing people affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Expect a lot more towers to see cladding issues revealed in coming weeks and months. The 120 out of 120 failure rate applies only to Local Authority blocks. Many private towers havn’t been tested.