Anguish for leaseholders in Milton Keynes awaiting huge safety bills… and for action to help
Property leaseholders in Milton Keynes have spoken of their anguish as they face the prospect of massive bills to sort out fire safety issues which aren’t their fault.
National campaign group End Our Cladding Scandal has called for candidates in the upcoming local elections to support calls for the Government to help.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service has been in touch with leaseholders in Milton Keynes who are fearing bills of tens of thousands of pounds.
“I feel absolutely trapped,” said a 74-year-old widow called Sally who has asked for her full identity not to be revealed.
“People have wanted to buy my share of the flat but when they see they will need to have a current fire safety certificate and all the work that needs to be carried out, they don’t go ahead.”
Sally and her husband had sold a house in Willen after she was diagnosed with leukaemia, to make it easier for him to live after she died. But tragically he died after she recovered, leaving her on a widow’s pension and unable to sell.
“We have wooden partitions and wooden balconies, all have got to be replaced at between £3m and £4m divided up by the 350 flats,” she said.
“It’s not our fault they were built like that but now we are absolutely trapped,” she added.
The issue is that fire safety standards have tightened since the Grenfell tower block fire.
But a Government commitment to help leaseholders in tower blocks more than 18 storeys high has left those in lower height blocks fearing for the future.
“I feel hopeless,” said a 38-year-old leaseholder. “My wife has started counselling to try and deal with it but is in tears most days.
“If we can’t afford the bills, our lease will be ceased and we forfeit all of our share,” he added.
Leaseholders’ anger was heaped on the Government and on MK North Conservative MP Ben Everitt for voting against prohibiting the passing on of remediation costs on to leaseholders and tenants.
Mr Everitt, who sits on the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, says he supports leaseholders in tower blocks being helped and is making the case outside of the voting lobbies.
MK Council Tory group leader Cllr Alex Walker (Stantonbury) said he is “hugely sympathetic with leaseholders potentially facing large costs”.
“The anxiety and stress must be immense,” he said, adding that if the Conservatives lead the council after May’s elections they will “support affected residents in every way we can; lobbying our local MPs and bringing a motion to full council.”
Labour council leader Cllr Pete Marland said: “We fully support the campaign to assist those impacted not just by the cladding scandal but also those left with other bills too so things like internal insulation.
“The fact the Conservative government have left thousands of people facing the stress and cost of this scandal is outrageous and the Labour Party fully supports those campaigning for help, unlike our two Conservative MPs.”