Tag Archives: legal

Points of concern raised with ward Councillor regarding retro-fitting water sprinklers (9 September 2017)

It was a little while ago, though in the context of discussions regarding retro-fitting water sprinklers the following might be of interest.

On Saturday 9th September 2017 four Alton Estate residents attended the Councillor’s surgery on to discuss retro-fitting of water sprinklers off the back of the Paper 17-269 which was to be discussed at the Council’s Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 14th September 2017. The ward Councillor who this was discussed with was Councillor Sue McKinney, who also attends this meeting. Timing wise many on the estate received a copy of the September Brightside magazine earlier the same day which mentioned retro-fitting of water sprinklers which did not mention how this would be funded.

As far as these four residents were concerned, the following points were raised;

  1. Water sprinklers were first brought up in June there has been ample time to arrange to door knocking of residents to seek views and opinions, or to arrange a consultation. The response was that summer holidays may have had something to do with this.
  2. Related to this was that instead of Labour campaigning, such as what was seen the previous Saturday in Putney then perhaps this resource could have been better spent on garnering views about water sprinklers.
  3. That the absence of the Borough Residents Forum (BRF) Minutes from the Western Area Housing Panel (WAHP) Agenda for the meeting of 11th September was not on (as this included an item about water sprinklers) and needed to be raised and added back in. This was raised by a Residents Association.
  4. Residents raised that there are block differences which need to be considered.
  5. One block has requested a copy of the Fire Risk Assessment and was waiting for a copy of this. They are not held by the Western Area team and are held centrally. It was suggested that if any residents were concerned then having a copy of the Fire Risk Assessment based on the ground floor might assist with some comfort.
  6. A discussion regarding frequency of Fire Risk Assessments was held, top of head thoughts were monthly or quarterly.
  7. One resident highlighted disappointment that a query regarding water sprinklers sent to Councillor McKinney the previous Sunday had not been acknowledged.
  8. Concern was expressed about contents insurance in that it was doubtful one’s residence would be covered if the water sprinklers went off by accident. A mention of wooden floors was highlighted as a problem area should this happen.
  9. In the paper 17-269 there is a mention of potential building insurance benefits. Councillor McKinney was unaware of the current cost of building insurance for blocks and one resident suggested low £100+. [Post meeting update, having just seen one building’s service for 2015/2016 the Buildings Insurance premium is £12.43. If correct, then the benefits of section 24 of the paper 17-269 is perhaps negligible].
  10. Concern was raised about whether there could be electrical fires which start as a result of water sprinklers.
  11. One resident presented statistics regarding deaths from fires in the Wandsworth Borough which worked out to be 1.2 per annum and queried whether this cost was commensurate with what the £26 million cost to the Council.
  12. A mention of possible double counting of service charges could be on the cards. Major works are being conducted now on tall blocks on the Alton Estate, by installing water sprinklers would this undo any of the works being paid for now. If yes, then would leaseholders be paying to have this put back to pre-water sprinkler state?
  13. Uncertainty about where water sprinklers would be located was highlighted, would they be inside flats or just on the landing areas?
  14. One resident asked whether there was consideration that forcing this onto residents as part ‘security’ meant that leaseholders who have bought properties and tenants who have moved into them, have therefore moved into properties which were not ‘secure’ and whether they could have a legal case?
  15. Legal action was mentioned as a possible challenge if this is ‘imposed’ on leaseholders.
  16. Buildings on Danebury Avenue with long walkways which are covered might pose a risk if residents are at the furthest points from the stair case.
  17. Leaseholders in tall blocks are currently undergoing major works which is costing between £7,000 to £10,000 and now they have will have to contend with this additional cost.
  18. One resident mentioned that in one block the Council is very good at removing clutter from landings.
  19. There was also concern regarding the ongoing costs of servicing the sprinklers.

Councillor McKinney was asked to object to Section (b) and (c ) of Point 3 and the feedback was that this seemed a reasonable request thought this would need to be put past Councillor Paul White, the Opposition Speaker at the Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

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Contact

Email us at – roeregeneration@yahoo.com – and let us know of any concerns/thoughts you may have or add a comment at the end of the blog entry in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section.

Or email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors at;

 Or email your local Member of Parliament at;

For a different view of Roehampton, especially the Alton Estate

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Alton Leaseholders meeting (13 December 2017)

This was the third meeting of the newly created Alton Leaseholders group. Given it is the third meeting in just over a month (November 6th and 20th being the others) this highlights that there is a desire to create a leaseholders group which can positively influence change on the Alton Estate. In attendance there was about a dozen people who braved the cold and very wet weather who offered their views. It should be considered that over a period of a couple of months, driven primarily by one individual getting up early on weekends, that 56 leaseholders from mainly the tall buildings on the Alton Estate have expressed an interest in participating in this group.

Update on actions

The Chair was very keen to get updates from attendees on the progress of their actions. Like any meeting there was progress on some actions and not on others, which seems to be the case for almost any group depending on the capacity of individuals to commit and their ability to resource the action with life.

One action where the Chair was keen to emphasis was that an ask had gone out prior to the meeting requesting what items should be considered as part of a leaseholders group. Only one person provided any feedback on this.

To know what the actions are and what the progress was, that will be something for you to find out by attending a future meeting.

Water sprinklers

It has been mentioned at both of the previous meetings that there is need to not be focused only on water sprinklers, though this seems to be driving focus for many at the moment. This could be understandable given for many they have (1) have paid large sums on service charges mainly in part due to the installation of double glazing, (2) are having retro-fitting of water sprinklers forced on them without a choice and (3) there are far too many queries which need to be answered.

There still seems to be a slow take up of residents requesting a copy of the Fire Risk Assessment for their block. The numbers of Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) seen to date is only eight out of the 42 for the ward. The number 42 being the amount of buildings in the ward being retro-fitted with water sprinklers.

In terms of Councillor Govindia being able to obtain funding from the Government for water sprinklers there is some scepticism as an earlier request has already been turned down.

There was some discussion on whether the Roehampton & Putney Heath ward Councillors would assist. It was commented that Councillor Sue McKinney met with four residents during a Labour Saturday surgery and they convinced her that water sprinklers were not required (though this had to be discussed with the Opposition speaker at the Housing and Regeneration Overview Scrutiny Committee) yet a few days later at the Council meeting it was agreed and Councillor McKinney did not even speak on the topic despite representing a ward which has the most tall buildings to be impacted.

A general consideration was what, if any, support can be gathered from the ward Councillors. It was mentioned that at a June Western Area Housing Panel (WAHP) it was mentioned by Councillor McKinney that the retro-fitting of water sprinklers was with cross party agreement.

An update was highlighted that someone who is very concerned by the looming expense of this sought assistance from Councillor Sue McKinney who then pointed that individual to the Citizens Advice Bureau.

One theory which was expressed was that this could be a long term strategy by the Council to make the blocks appear as though they were unsafe which might make it harder for owners to sell, in turn making this easier for the Council to buy back at lower cost than what otherwise might have been the case. This is assuming that, one day, the Council might buy these apartments back under possible future regeneration work.

Legal challenge

Those impacted by the possibility of having water sprinklers retro-fitted discussed the prospect of challenging this through the legal system. There was a desire to explore this option more fully at the next meeting.

Next meeting

That is to be confirmed though is currently pencilled in for 8 January 2017 (though this is yet to be confirmed).

Please note that all information is provided on a best efforts basis and that readers should make their own efforts to review and assess the provided content.

Contact

Email us at – roeregeneration@yahoo.com – and let us know of any concerns/thoughts you may have or add a comment at the end of the blog entry in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section.

Or email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors at;

 Or email your local Member of Parliament at;

For a different view of Roehampton, especially the Alton Estate