Week Ahead: Government under pressure over cladding scandal misery affecting thousands in Yorkshire

MPs will have their say on the cladding scandal affecting thousands in Yorkshire, while the Six Nations gets under way. Chris Burn looks into the week ahead.

Cladding being removed from Hanover tower block in Sheffield, Yorkshire in 2017. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

CLADDING SCANDAL

Growing scrutiny will be placed on the national cladding scandal affecting people living in more than 100 apartment buildings in Yorkshire alone as MPs vote on the matter on Monday.

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The Government has made £1.6bn available to remove different types of unsafe cladding on high-rises following the Grenfell scandal but by April this year it had only paid out £134 million - leaving many people trapped in dangerous properties they cannot sell and facing huge bills to pay for removals themselves.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is under growing pressure to act over the cladding scandal . (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP)

A Commons vote on Monday will see Labour call on ministers to establish the fill extent of the problem, provide upfront funding to ensure cladding remediation can start immediately, and protect leaseholders – and the taxpayer – from the cost by chasing the construction firms responsible.

Sir Keir Starmer said the current situation was “intolerable” and called on the Government to set out what it planned to do. Labour said millions of homes – up to 16 per cent of housing stock – could be affected.

Last Wednesday Boris Johnson told MPs that Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick would be producing a plan “very shortly”.

In October, Tory MP Stephen McPartland said Mr Jenrick had “overseen a shocking betrayal of millions of people who are trapped in flats they cannot sell because of cladding”.

TRYING TIMES

The Six Nations kicks off this weekend with England launching their title defence against Scotland on Saturday as they aim for their fourth Championship title of the Eddie Jones era.

The tournament will unfold with all competing countries in lockdown. Enhanced protocols, including the introduction of an additional round of testing each week and all meetings being staged outside, have been established to ensure the event does not fall victim to the pandemic.

Jones has said sport has a vital role to play amid the crisis in providing people with some relief and, while realising that operating in a bio-secure environment presents the challenge of bubble fatigue, he insists that is a small price to pay.

“We understand the responsibility. Elite sport has been given an opportunity to do something to help society get through this,” the head coach said last week.

“We play a small role, but I think it’s a significant role.

“You’ve just got to look at the news – 100,000 people have died in the UK from the coronavirus, one of the highest death rates in the world.

“It’s a tough time for society and we want to make sure that, because we’ve got this opportunity to do something special, we do it with a lot of gratitude, a lot of desire and a lot of enthusiasm.”

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

The London Critics’ Circle Film Awards takes place on Sunday, with horror film Saint Maud leading the nominations at the virtual ceremony.

The movie, directed by Rose Glass, stars Morfydd Clark as a palliative care nurse and recent convert to high Catholicism.

It picked up eight nods including best film, director, screenwriter, actress, supporting actress and British/Irish film of the year, while Clark is also nominated for British/Irish actress for her body of work over the year.

The nominations this year are dominated by female writer-directors, with Sarah Gavron’s coming of age story Rocks in the running for six prizes and Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland nominated for five.

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