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;
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Residents raised that there are block differences which need to be considered.
- 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.
- A discussion regarding frequency of Fire Risk Assessments was held, top of head thoughts were monthly or quarterly.
- One resident highlighted disappointment that a query regarding water sprinklers sent to Councillor McKinney the previous Sunday had not been acknowledged.
- 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.
- 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].
- Concern was raised about whether there could be electrical fires which start as a result of water sprinklers.
- 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.
- 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?
- Uncertainty about where water sprinklers would be located was highlighted, would they be inside flats or just on the landing areas?
- 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?
- Legal action was mentioned as a possible challenge if this is ‘imposed’ on leaseholders.
- 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.
- 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.
- One resident mentioned that in one block the Council is very good at removing clutter from landings.
- 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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