Those living in Ipswich flats say they feel like "cladding prisoners" as they protested outside the headquarters of the freeholder of their building. 

A protest was held on July 10 by residents of The Mill in Ipswich, Suffolk's tallest building, as they gathered outside the Bury St Edmunds headquarters of RSM UK. 

The original developer, City Living Developments (Ipswich) Ltd, entered administration in 2010, at which point the freehold was placed into the hands of RSM, an accountancy firm tasked with the ongoing care and administration of the property.

In 2013, The Mill was deemed unsafe after gale-force winds caused damage and tore cladding from the tower.

East Anglian Daily Times: The Mill in Ipswich was found to have dangerous cladding in 2014. Credit: NewsquestThe Mill in Ipswich was found to have dangerous cladding in 2014. Credit: Newsquest (Image: Archant)

East Anglian Daily Times: Protestors gathered outside RSM's headquarters. Credit: Tom CannProtestors gathered outside RSM's headquarters. Credit: Tom Cann (Image: Tom Cann)

In 2014, fire experts warned that cladding on The Mill was so unsafe, that all residents should be moved out.

In 2020, this paper investigated that parts of the building were still wrapped in the cladding, while a total of £13m had been spent since 2010 by the administrators on legal costs, nine times as much as had been spent on work to the tower.

At the protest, Russell Quirk, spokesperson for The Mill Leaseholders Association, said: "The situation is appalling. We have been made into cladding prisoners and throughout all attempts to get an explanation from RSM, they have just been laughing at us.

East Anglian Daily Times: Russell Quirk, spokesperson for The Mill Leaseholders Association. Credit: Charlotte BondRussell Quirk, spokesperson for The Mill Leaseholders Association. Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

East Anglian Daily Times: Residents and concerned citizens protested in Bury St Edmunds. Credit: Charlotte BondResidents and concerned citizens protested in Bury St Edmunds. Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

"It is absolutely disgraceful.

"RSM received a vast sum of money in a court action five years ago, totalling £15million pounds, with which to then remediate the cladding issues.

"The cladding issues, which we know since Grenfell, is a very very serious problem.

"There's not just the fire hazard issue, but because of that, mortgage lenders won't lend to people to buy the property.

East Anglian Daily Times: Protestors outside the offices while blinds were shut. Credit: Tom CannProtestors outside the offices while blinds were shut. Credit: Tom Cann (Image: Tom Cann)

East Anglian Daily Times: Alex Dicken from Ipswich Cladiators. Credit: Charlotte BondAlex Dicken from Ipswich Cladiators. Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

"Say people paid £150,000 for a flat, in good faith, now have properties worth precisely zero.

"It's leaving 237 leaseholders in financial and cladding purgatory."

One resident, Rosalynn English, has owned her property at The Mill, but only found out about the cladding issue two years ago.

She said: "When I tried to sell my property, we found that I wouldn't be able to because of the cladding issue.

East Anglian Daily Times: Rosalynn English and Adrian Swift at the protest. Credit: Charlotte BondRosalynn English and Adrian Swift at the protest. Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

"I've since tried to remortgage, but that hasn't worked, and we have been really patient with them, they have money to solve the issue but don't take any action.

"None of us wanted to be here today, but it's a last resort."

A statement from RSM UK on The Mill, stated: "We fully understand and share the concerns of leaseholders and residents at The Mill, who deserve clarity and certainty on when their homes will be fully repaired.

"The safety of all residents has been and continues to be, a key priority.

"Since becoming administrators on the site, we've worked hard to find ways to raise the necessary funds to rectify the issues affecting the property and continue to explore all options available to us.

East Anglian Daily Times: Pete Shelcot from Ipswich Cladiators. Credit: Charlotte BondPete Shelcot from Ipswich Cladiators. Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

"In the meantime, we will continue to prioritise the safety of residents, working closely with the relevant authorities to mitigate the risk posed, and ensure the safety measures put in place by the Administrators continue to enable the residents to remain in occupation."

While RSM gained the £15million five years ago, Mr Quirk also found a freeholder that was happy to take over The Mill, yet that didn't go through.

East Anglian Daily Times: Adrian Swift (right) at the protest. Credit: Charlotte BondAdrian Swift (right) at the protest. Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

Another resident, Adrian Swift, bought his place in 2015, but only found out about the cladding a couple of weeks ago.

He said: "When I found out about the freeholder and the £15million, I was hugely disappointed.

"These people need to do their jobs properly, put it to bed, get a freeholder in and do the deal."

East Anglian Daily Times: Protestors in Bury St Edmunds. Credit: Charlotte BondProtestors in Bury St Edmunds. Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

Angela Ambrose, who rents a property at The Mill, was in attendance to show her support for her neighbours.

She said: "My outrage is at the fact that £15million is being filtered away by corporates, companies and institutions.

"My fear is that there won't be any money left to actually carry out repairs.

East Anglian Daily Times: The RSM Bury St Edmunds headquarters. Credit: Charlotte BondThe RSM Bury St Edmunds headquarters. Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

"We turned up here, and they instantly shut their blinds, and won't even entertain us."

Alex Dickin from Ipswich Cladiators said: "We have seen in my building, just over the road at Cardinal Lofts, the impact that has had, and we still don't know when the work is going to start.

"These people don't know when their homes are going to be made safe."

East Anglian Daily Times: Alex Dicken from Ipswich Cladiators speaking to those at the protest. Credit: Charlotte BondAlex Dicken from Ipswich Cladiators speaking to those at the protest. Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

East Anglian Daily Times: Russell Quirk. Credit: Charlotte BondRussell Quirk. Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)