Who’s to pay? Glasgow Harbour Tenants vs Private Construction

By Max wright, IMT Edinburgh

 

Over 300 Properties at Glasgow Harbour[1], as well as two new Hospitals, have been revealed to have the same deadly Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding which added to the devastation of June 14th’s Grenfell fire. Now the tenants of the cheap building efforts are being made to foot the bill.

After the Grenfell fire, 160 social housing towers with the same deadly cladding were identified to be in breach of fire safety regulations. Meaning tens of thousands of working class tenants live with the daily fear that a similarly catastrophic blaze could rip through their homes and lives.

 

The reason for this fear? Cost cutting by the private investors whose only incentive is profit. Taylor Wimpey, the firm responsible for using the flammable ACM in Glasgow, made a net income of £555.3 Million in 2017[2], yet when asked about their responsibility replied:

 

“We recognise that the situation at Glasgow Harbour is a cause for concern for both owners and residents. “While we do not have any ownership or legal interest in the development, we are committed to working with all the parties involved in finding a solution”

 

 

The 3 step plan of the profiteer is complete:

  • Be given a large housing contract due to Government cuts in housing.
  • Complete the project as cheaply as possible.
  • Server all responsibility and hand off the bill of their failure to the worker. Profit and repeat.

 

Using this method, private interests have made millions from our Government’s love of outsourcing, whilst the taxpayer is left with bad quality services. What’s more, private building companies profit from the public a second time by bringing their deadly projects up to specification. With property tycoons such as David Rowland bankrolling the Tory party through a £200,000 donation[3], it’s no surprise that when it comes to helping working class families, Theresa May’s purse is firmly shut.

 

This is not the first time that Taylor Wimpey have scammed the public. They have sold homes as leasehold when they previously would have been freehold[4]. Being leasehold means the buyer only owns the building, but not the land it stands on. The buyers are given reassuringly long 999-year leases – only to find that buying the freehold is prohibitively expensive. Additionally, Taylor Wimpey exploit the annual “ground rent” by horrendously doubling the amount every 10 years, up to an £8,000 per year bill[5], affectively making the property worthless and unsalable.

 

Taylor Wimpey may have met the health and safety standards at the time, but this is no excuse for putting hundreds of lives at risk. An independent review[6] stated that:

  • Roles and responsibilities for building safety are unclear
  • Regulations and guidance are “ambiguous and inconsistent” and are “misunderstood and misinterpreted”
  • The process that drives compliance with the regulations are “weak and complex”

These are unacceptable regulationatory standards, and the tenants must not be held accountable for the purposefully weak targets set in outsourcing.

 

Private organisations do not have the citizen’s best interests at heart, the invisible hand of the free market has once again failed to provide basic standards to the workers forced to endure “austerity”. Private Landlords don’t even have a legal obligation to make their homes “fit for human habitation”. An attempt by Corbyn’s Labour to introduce such a law[7] last year was voted down by the Tories as “unnecessary regulation”. 72 of the MPs that voted against the legislation were themselves landlords, making it explicit that they were acting to maintain their own profits.

 

At Revolution we believe it is every person’s right to have a safe, properly built home to live in. We call for the end of private companies profiting from their own inadequacy and demand the ownership be put in the hands of the public. We believe that industry ran for-profit will always cheat the customer, exploit the worker, and benefit the bourgeoisie.

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