By Harry Scoffin
Apsana Begum, who replaced Leasehold Knowledge Partnership co-patron Jim Fitzpatrick as Poplar and Limehouse MP in December, will be speaking to cladding leaseholders in her constituency via Zoom videoconferencing on Saturday.
Poplar and Limehouse has the second highest number of leasehold properties in the country, and contains many high rise apartment buildings affected by the cladding and fire safety scandal.
The event has been organised with the support of LKP.
The Labour politician attended the Westminster cladding forum in January and is a member of APPG on leasehold and commonhold reform.
Apsana Begum said:
“I have organised the first of what will be a number of cladding meetings to help my constituents deal with this terrible problem which has impacted some of them for nearly three years. I plan to hold further meetings on this issue over the coming months. I will also be holding individual meetings with the sites facing the biggest problems.
“I am very concerned about the failure of the government to act more quickly and will be writing to the Secretary of State.”
Ms Begum and her office are keen to keep the meeting to local residents and therefore are asking for attendees’ addresses.
Affected Poplar and Limehouse residents who want to make the guestlist should email firstname.lastname@example.org and confirm their details.
The Zoom session will begin at 5pm on Saturday June 20, with a scheduled end time of 6:30pm.
Speakers will be taking questions.
LKP chair Martin Boyd is on the lineup alongside Jon Wharnsby, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) North East London secretary and Grenfell Community Liaison officer.
Mr Wharnsby, writing in the New Statesman on Friday, blasts the “little action, by government or industry, to prevent a tragedy like the one at Grenfell Tower happening again”.
A firefighter at Grenfell, Mr Wharnsby discusses the problems facing hundreds of thousands of leaseholders in unsafe blocks:
“Half a million residents up and down the country are still trapped in potentially lethal flats. When we firefighters are called to a block with flammable cladding, the fear of the imprisoned residents is apparent. With homes rendered worthless due to the flammable materials, they are unable to sell. Terrified, many of them have taken on 24-hour “waking watches”, patrolling their buildings in case a fire a breaks out while residents sleep.
“Three years have passed. Three years is 1,095 days or 26,304 hours or 1,576,800 minutes or 94,608,000 seconds. In just one second, with the stroke of a pen, the government could mandate the removal of all flammable cladding, requisitioning buildings from owners who refuse.
“Instead, we have had fires in London, Bolton, Crewe and Belfast involving major fire safety defects. The next one could happen tomorrow.”
Three years ago, I was called to a fire in Grenfell Tower in North Kensington along with my watch. By the time we arrived, my colleagues had already been desperately working for over an hour to save as many lives as possible: 72 lives were lost, 72 too many.