Jeremy Clarkson may be known for his controversy on shows such as Top Gear and The Grand Tour, but while he’s not stirring the pot and making fans laugh, he’s fighting for the little people. You may be surprised by this, but Clarkson has often used his vast fanbase to raise money for charity, help small businesses thrive, and spread some good. This, however, doesn’t make for clickable headlines, so newspapers don’t tend to shout about it.
Yesterday, The Grand Tour presenter wrote a column about the deadly cladding disaster which was a big factor of why Grenfell was such a horific disaster.
“… as a result of the Grenfell fire, the insurance bill for the six-storey building where I have a flat in London is set to rise from £8,000 a year to more than £60,000,” Clarkson writes for The Times.
When I found out, I made some noises in The Sun, and immediately a government housing wallah called Baron Greenhalgh — who sounds as if he should be a Child Catcher/Dick Dastardly baddie in that Danish penis story — went on Twitter to say I can afford it.”
He goes on to explain how yes, he could afford it. But that doesn’t make it right or mean that he wants to afford it. Plus, many others who aren’t in such a fortunate position as him won’t be able to afford it.
“Yes, Your Baronness. I could also afford to buy every corner shop in Hartlepool, but that doesn’t mean I want to. And, anyway, as you acknowledge, most of the tens of thousands of people affected by these gigantic insurance premium hikes cannot. And I really do mean gigantic. Some have gone up by 1,200%,” he writes.
He goes on to explain how while some are blaming the developers who’s companies built these cladded high rises, the fault falls on the government who have set the laws and allowed for such a thing to happen. He also points the finger at insurance companies who are profiting so easily from such things, with flat owners forced to not only pay these high insurance prices, while also employing fire wardens to march back and forth through their blocks.
“But hang on,” Clarkson continues. “If you are paying for burly men to patrol the corridors of your building 24 hours a day, with a wheelbarrow full of extinguishers, then there is absolutely no chance of a fire taking hold. Which means the cost of fire insurance should be zero.
“In my building, the cladding is not flammable, the fire system would be rejected by the Louvre for being too exotic and the lift can be used even if there’s an inferno. So why has there been an eightfold hike in the premium? It feels like blatant profiteering.”
The ex-Top Gear presenter, who caught Covid over the Christmas period, insists that the government should push insurance prices down. “But even if the premiums do come down, it doesn’t really address the big issue: the fact that tens of thousands of people are holed up in flats that they know, for sure, will kill them if someone six floors down has a faulty toaster.”
He ends his column with a hearfelt message:
“I’m not sure that the evil Baron Greenhalgh is the man for the job, but we do need someone kind to sit down in a room with everyone involved and say: “Out of the goodness of our hearts, we simply must do something about this.”’