Today I voted in favour of an amendment (McPartland-Smith) to the Fire Safety Bill which protects leaseholders from the remediation costs associated with all fire safety defects (not just cladding). As many of you will know I was one of the signatories to this amendment and I am disappointed that the vote was unsuccessful.
This is the second time I’ve voted against the Government on a key vote and it’s not something I take lightly, but I’ve always been clear that my priority is to represent my constituents and it’s possible that from time to time this will involve me voting a different way from my Party colleagues. Yes, when people voted for me they voted for a Conservative MP, but I also believe that people hoped they were voting for someone who was prepared to make difficult decisions that put their constituents first.
Over the past year the Government have outlined a range of support for leaseholders (in the Billions) and many of my constituents who are leaseholders have received the support they need. However not all. When discussing this matter with Ipswich leaseholders I have been clear that I do not want any leaseholder to be left behind, and sadly at this stage, many still are.
This issue is not just about cladding. Many leaseholders live in properties where there are fire safety defects that need to be urgently addressed including wall insulation, fire doors, wooden balconies and fire brakes. Sometimes remediating these issues can cost thousands of pounds and it is resulting in leaseholders being unable to sell their properties as many mortgage lenders are refusing to lend, essentially making many of the properties valueless.
These leaseholders have bought their properties in good faith and are not to blame for these fire safety defects, and I fail to see why they should be forced to saddle the costs.
Ultimately the taxpayer shouldn’t have to bear the cost of this either. Those who should pay are those who are responsible. Whether it’s the builders or the management agents.
I have had many detailed discussions with the Housing Minister over this matter and he has made clear to me that the Building Safety Bill will be the place to resolve these issues. However, a key concern for me is there isn’t currently much detail regarding this, and I haven’t been given a clear timeline for when this new Bill will be in place and when the uncertainty and anxiety that many of my constituents face will be ended. Ultimately this is what led to me voting the way I did today.
Since the moment I was elected I’ve done everything I can to support leaseholders in Ipswich and I will continue to do so.