Bellway is the first developer to cave in the battle to make developers pay for the building safety crisis. This comes as no surprise since the main organisers of Action for Fire Safety Justice, the group responsible for a series of high impact showroom protests, have been relentlessly targeting Bellway for over six months.
The biggest lesson from this victory is that protest works, particularly protests that directly hit the developers’ pockets and put off potential new buyers. This has been a key feature of the campaign, which has also targeted government with a rally at Downing Street. Homes for All has been proud to support this campaign, which has sought to unite tenants, leaseholders, trade unions and Grenfell campaigners in a struggle that fights for safety before profit.
Bellway Homes have agreed to fully fund the fire safety remediation of Caspian Quarter not only removes the financial burden from Caspian Quarter leaseholders, but provides a degree of peace of mind for the future in view of the incoming fire safety regimes such as the new standard PAS8890. This comes shortly after the win for leaseholders at Bellway’s Chelmsford development, where the developer confirmed it will step in to fund works that will remove unsafe Grenfell style cladding from their homes. https://www.essexlive.news/news/essex-news/essex-housing-bellway-homes-replace-6210489
Bellway Homes confirmed in a letter to Barking Leaseholders:
In this instance and due to the unique set of circumstances, Bellway will step in, set aside legal responsibility, and wholly fund and deliver the removal and replacement of the balcony decking, check and rectify cavity barriers and install those considered missing behind the cladding, as well as replace the cladding with an A1/A2 rated alternative.
AFSJ issued a press statement saying:
This victory comes after a concerted effort from Caspian Quarter and other leaseholders, support from the active Barking Reach Residents Association, housing groups such as Homes4All, other campaign groups such as UK Cladding Action Group, End Our Cladding Scandal, and National Leasehold Campaign, Polluter Pays Bill team, Grenfell campaigners, Fire Brigade Union and other trades unions. The campaign included multiple local and national protests, meetings, emails, media coverage and was also supported by the MP for Barking Dame Margaret Hodge, Councillor Cameron Geddes and the Barking & Dagenham Council, and the Bishop of Barking.
Joanna, the co-founder of Action of Fire Safety Justice, said:
I am over the moon and cannot describe the feeling of relief upon hearing the news of Bellway finally doing the right thing for Caspian Quarter, after they had agreed to do the same for our friends at the Marconi development in Chelmsford. The building safety crisis has so many facets and consequences – in addition to safety and financial worries, it is a tremendous pressure on leaseholders’ and their families’ mental health.
Action for Fire Safety Justice will continue to fight for and with all leaseholders affected by this horrendous scandal.We call upon Bellway to remediate the rest of their defective buildings, and on other developers to follow suit, so that we may all sleep soundly, not having to worry for our lives or livelihoods.
AFSJ are keen to share their learnings with others who are facing the same thing and they will host a public meeting on 7th December where they will talk about how the victory was won and answer questions. Homes for All congratulates all who had a role in winning this concession from Bellway. We are excited to continue supporting any housing struggle that fights for homes for people, not for profit.
Public Meeting: TUESDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2021 FROM 19:00-20:30
Action for Fire Safety Justice Update: How We Beat Bellway & How to Keep Going?
Join us as we share the campaigning tactics that forced Bellway to pay full remediation costs for our blocks. Hear from six Fire Safety Justice campaigners and join us in an open discussion as we reflect on successes and challenges in 2021 and decide together, where do we go from here?
*How We Beat Bellway (and how you can too)* Chloe, Joanna & Kelly, ASFJ crew & Bellway Must Pay co-founders
Tuesday 7th December, 2021 7pm – ACTION FOR FIRE SAFETY JUSTICE UPDATE: HOW WE BEAT BELLWAY & HOW TO KEEP GOING? Join us as we share the campaigning tactics that forced Bellway to pay full remediation costs for our blocks. Hear from six Fire Safety Justice campaigners and join us in an open discussion as we reflect on successes and challenges in 2021 and decide together, where do we go from here?
The Tories re-announced their ‘solution’ to the building safety crisis in the Budget last week, a £5bn fund to tackle fire safety remediation. Of course this money is a fraction of the £5 – £50bn that remediation is expected to cost. This was accompanied, as usual, by warm words about how leaseholders should not have to pay. If they thought they could put a dampener on the planned protests on Saturday, they were very wrong. There were eight protests and seven of them were live streamed into the Building Safety Crisis rally online. We were delighted to support the protests in person and by providing the tech support.
We heard, a couple of days before the day of action that Michael Gove had called leaseholders in for a meeting. Michael Gove is the Secretary of State for Levelling Up (sic), Housing and Communities. We think there is little doubt that the publicity around the upcoming protests played a role in his decision to meet leaseholders. Following the protests we are reliably informed that there is more interest in the press and parliament for a real solution – the Polluter Pays Bill.
We demanded that the Government makes Developers pay! The costs to fix fire safety issues should not fall on tenants or leaseholders. Speakers were: Chloe Waite, Action for Fire Safety Justice Tanya Murat, Homes For All Jenni Garrett, End Our Cladding Scandal Matt Wrack, FBU Georgie Hume, CLADDAG Chair, Moyra Samuels, Grenfell Campaigner Protests featured at the online rally were: ⁕ London City Hal l⁕ Abbey Quays Barking ⁕ Upton Park ⁕ Ipswich Waterfront ⁕ Stotfold ⁕ Bristol City Hall ⁕ Strasbourg European Court of Human Rights
REPORT: This ITV report is a good example of the coverage we received.
Southend: A Great day action on empty homes in Southend National day of action by Action on Empty Homes & Homes for all .The Southend action organised By Essex Unite Community Branch .Attended by Essex Unite community, Acorn renters Union,Harlow And District trade Union Council. Basildon & Thurock Trades Union Council ,Southend Trades Union Council. CWU Rep. Southend Labour Party Members. 100s Signed petition to Southend Esasr/West MPs to End Homelessness & Build Council Homes.
Islington: On Saturday, six Islington Councillors, together with Islington residents and activists from Islington Homes for All, Islington Housing Action, Action on Empty Homes and Street Storage (for homeless people) gathered outside the 28 empty ex-warders’ flats belonging to the Ministry of Justice behind Pentonville Prison, left empty for years. They were protesting against the continued refusal by the Ministry of Justice to honour the agreement made in 2019 with Islington Council for the flats to be leased to house homeless and overcrowded families in a borough with over 14,000 households on the housing waiting list. Councillor Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Housing emphasised the borough’s urgent need for these family-sized flats in the context of the present government clear disregard for people’s welfare in its pursuit to make money.
South London: Southwark, Aylesbury Estate. Up to 30 people protested at the Aylesbury Estate where the regeneration means the demolition of over 2,000 council homes. Over 600 council homes stand empty, waiting to be demolished. Southwark Council has been putting temporary tenants in these empty homes, and is subsidising developer Notting Hill Genesis to provide council homes in replacement of those that are demolished. We demand that NHG is removed and the estate is refurbished.
Westminster – Waiting for Report
E17 Against Evictions (Walthamstow) – Waiting for Report
Join us for our next national day of local protests, to demand that the Government make Developers pay to fix the Fire Safety Crisis!Leaseholders and tenants are trapped in unsafe homes, facing bankruptcy and eviction because our homes weren’t built to be safe.
Meanwhile, developers get off scot free and continue to make huge profits.Join us as we fight for our rights and demand change. Bring your friends, family and neighbours and let’s make a noise!
Saturday 30 October 2021, 11:30am – 12:30pm Building Safety Crisis Day of Action Online Rally https://www.facebook.com/events/680536556257607 We demand that the Government makes Developers pay! The costs to fix fire safety issues should not fall on tenants or leaseholders. Join Action for Fire Safety Justice and supporters for a rally featuring outside broadcasts from protests as part of the national day of action.
Chloe Waite, Action for Fire Safety Justice
Tanya Murat, Homes For All
Karim Mussilhy, Grenfell United
Wilf Sullivan, TUC
Jenni Garratt, End Our Cladding Scandal
Chair, Moyra Samuels, Grenfell Campaigner
Protests to be featured at the online rally include:
⁕ London City Hall ⁕ Abbey Quays Barking ⁕ Upton Park ⁕ Ipswich Waterfront ⁕ Milton Keynes ⁕ Bristol City Hall ⁕ Strasbourg European Court of Human Rights
Agenda for HfA Meeting 1. Update on CAEH 2. Report backs from: 3. LP Conference 4. Cladding Day of Action 5. Grenfell 6. AOB Agenda for CAEH 1. Planning local actions and Broadcasts 2. Distribution of the leaflet and final poster 3. Using social media to generate support for the day 4. Final sponsors for the Day of Action 5. Rally speakers and timings. 5.AOB
October 9th 2021, 11am Day of Action – We are in a climate, health and housing emergency!
We have decided to bring together all the organisations that took part in our first successful Day of Action in April 2021 and draw more local and national organisations into a national coalition called ‘Campaign Against Empty Homes’. Whether it is a local community group or a national organisation, we want everyone on board for 9 October, who wants empty homes to be brought back into use.
Unite have kindly donated some money so we can produce publicity and get the message out. We have lots of leaflets you can use to promote the day of action., and you can give out the same leaflets on the day of action itself. Scroll down to see a pdf of the leaflet. Our main partners, Action on Empty Homes are working hard with us to plan for the day. We will be doing a press launch very soon.
We will be having an online rally on YouTube and Facebook on 9th October, just like we did on 17th April, and we are inviting you to live stream your local protest into the rally.
We are calling the 9th October Day of Action for four reasons:
1) Over 100,000 families are living in Temporary Accommodation while over half a million homes have no permanent resident.
2) The wrong kind of housing is being built across the country – they are unaffordable to anyone on an average income to either rent or buy. These new builds are also being sold off-plan and ending up as Airbnb short lets, second homes or buy to leave empty wealth investments with no permanent residents.
3) Communities are being broken up as council estates that could be refurbished are being left to decline, to be replaced by yet more unaffordable new build.
4) The Climate emergency demands refurbishment, not demolition. Retrofitting 270,000 long term empty homes and council estates can help solve the climate crisis.
We will hold street actions highlighting all of these issues and hold a national rally calling for empty homes to be used by those living in temporary and overcrowded accommodation and to meet the climate emergency.
The Day of Action is also to raise public awareness of the rising number of long-term empty homes and homes without a permanent resident in England. Government and market data show there are around:
*270,000 long-term empty homes *260,000 second-homes with no permanent resident *120,000 Airbnb type short-lets (London Councils estimate there are over 70,000 short-lets in London alone) We also want a national register of landlords and beneficial owners and much tighter regulation of Airbnb.
If you want to call a street protest to be part of the day of action on 9th October, please let us know. We can live stream your protest into an online rally.
Local street protests will be POSTED HERE
Southwark: Campaign Against Empty Homes: Repopulate the Aylesbury Estate! Fill Empty Council Homes, 10:45am, Saturday 9th October, Outside Thurlow Lodge, 1 Thurlow Street, SE17 2US Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/405314640978545/
2. Empty Homes Day of Action at Pentonville Prison. Islington Homes for All – Saturday 9th October Meet at the Breakout Café on Caledonian Road at 10:45 to go to Pentonville Prison Empty Flats on Roman Way for 11am. Twitter: https://twitter.com/home
Everything you need to plan a street protest and live stream it is here
The Nine Elms protest made the BBC News website and served to highlight the building safety crisis and and the wider housing crisis. Insurmountable cladding bills, estate managers ignoring broken fire alarms, construction defects, “affordable” housing residents being denied access to basic facilities – All of the companies present in one way or another in Nine Elms have been notorious for this. Protesters were joined by Wandsworth Housing Action and local Wandsworth Labour Councillor Maurice McLeod as well as Tony O’Brien from Hazards. Great to see you there! Action on Fire Safety Justice is a force to be reckoned with!
Newsnight covered the fire safety issue in full, it took up the WHOLE programme, and gave a platform to leaseholders facing life changing bills.
The protest on 16th September is gathering support. Be there!