Tag Archives: newsletter

Have you seen the application to strike out the water sprinklers?

Background

Following on from Councillor Claire Gilbert’s email of 20 May 2019 it appears as though the strike out application may have been uploaded to the Council’s website?

Refer to the following link for the email of 20 May 2019 – https://roeregeneration.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/councillor-gilbert-water-sprinkler-update-20-may-2019/

 Strike out application

Housing & Property Law Partnership Solicitors (HPLPS) letter – http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/downloads/file/14168/housing_and_property_law_partnership_solicitors_letter

Application to strike out – http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/downloads/file/14169/application_to_strike_out

Have a read and see what you think.

Other Council documents regarding water sprinklers

Various documents – http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/downloads/download/1921/first_tier_property_tribunal_-_proposal_to_fit_sprinklers

Supporting Evidence – Proposal to fit sprinklers – http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/downloads/download/1945/supporting_evidence_-_proposal_to_fit_sprinklers

Appendix 29 Supporting Evidence – Proposal to fit sprinklers – http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/downloads/download/1946/appendix_29_supporting_evidence_-_proposal_to_fit_sprinklers

Caveats

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.

Receive articles into your inbox when uploaded on the blog

To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.

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.

To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.

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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Councillor Gilbert water sprinkler update (20 May 2019)

Background

The below is an email received from Councillor Claire Gilbert regarding water sprinklers received on 20 May 2019.

Email

START

From: Claire Gilbert <clairegilbert77@gmail.com>

Date: Mon, May 20, 2019 at 3:23 PM

Subject: Sprinklers – Update + Alton Regeneration Petition – If you agree, please share and please sign?

To: claire gilbert, Fleur Anderson

Dear all,

Sprinklers Update

I write to provide you with a brief update on Sprinklers, following the last public meeting which took place on 7th May.

The meeting was well attended, and again lots of residents asked questions about the Council’s policy and how it has developed since last summer when the Council started its legal case. Councillors White, Grimston and I spoke at the meeting. I provided an update on the current status of the case, and what the next steps will be from the Tribunal.

Thank you very much to all who attended and who sent questions and comments recently. It is clear that this issue remains high on the agenda for affected residents, and it went on to dominate a quite contentious “Let’s Talk”  meeting on 15th of May in Roehampton. (The Let’s Talk meetings are convened by the Council approximately every 2 years in each ward of the Borough, and are chaired by the Leader of the Council, Cllr Govindia. Cllr Govindia received a number of very clear complaints and critiques of the Council’s sprinkler policy last week in Roehampton, and I will be following up with him as to how he will respond to the points which were made). 

The key headline  in the Tribunal case is that the Council must respond to the Tribunal by 31st May setting out why it says that its case should not be Struck Out. Many residents have not seen the Strike Out Application which was submitted by HPLP (a law firm representing a small group of residents). It had not been noted by the Tribunal, the Council or HPLP that the application would not have reached residents – yet another example of the poor communication in this case. I have now had confirmation that my request for the Strike Out Application by HPLP to be put on the Council’s website has been granted, and that the Council must do this by 31st May. If you have any difficulty finding it, please let me know, as it is important that you are able to see the legal arguments which have been made so far.

As discussed on 7th May, I made a request on behalf of residents for the next hearing in this matter to be held in Wandsworth Town Hall so that they can attend and hear the arguments, but not have to travel to the other side of London. This request has now also been granted. The Strike Out hearing is likely to be held over two days in November or December 2019, with further directions being issued by the Tribunal in September.

However, if anything different arises coming out of Wandsworth’s reply at the end of this month, I will write to you again.

Please do continue to let me know if you have questions about this case, or do contact your ward councillors if you are not in Roehampton. It is also worth writing to Councillor Govindia to make your views known to him directly, if you have not already done so. Councillor Paul White is the opposition speaker on Housing issues, and both he and Councillor Grimston, would be grateful to be copied, as would I.

Affordable Housing and Alton Estate Regeneration

I hope that you will not mind my also contacting you regarding the proposed Regeneration of the Alton Estate in Roehampton, which is likely to go ahead later this year, leading to the demolition of much of the estate and the provision of new buildings and homes on Council-owned land. This is an issue affecting the whole Borough as over £100m of the Council’s reserves are to be used for this project, and therefore it is important that residents receive a good deal in return. 

If you would rather not be contacted about this issue, that is of course fine.

For those who are interested, a petition has been created by the Labour Housing Team seeking a better deal for Roehampton in the proposed Regeneration, including more genuinely affordable housing, better transport links, more and better youth facilities and a space for community groups. If you agree that a better deal should be sought, please click on the link below and sign the petition, which will be given to the Mayor in the coming weeks when the planning application is submitted.

If you have any questions about this issue, please let me know.

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/wandsworth-council-make-the-alton-estate-regeneration-a-better-deal-for-roehampton

With kind regards,

Councillor Claire Gilbert

END

Caveats

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.

Receive articles into your inbox when uploaded on the blog

To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.

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.

To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.

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

 

 

Councillor Grimston water sprinkler update (23 May 2019)

Background

The below is an email received from Councillor Malcom Grimston regarding water sprinklers received on 23 May 2019.

Email

START

From: Malcolm Grimston <malcolmgrimston@btconnect.com>

To: News from Councillor Malcolm Grimston <cllr.m.grimston@wandsworth.gov.uk>

Sent: Thursday, May 23, 2019, 11:10:17 AM GMT+1

Subject: 10+ storey news update May 2019

Dear All,

DELAY

The Grenfell Tower public inquiry is running months behind schedule and the conclusions of its investigation into what happened on the night of the fire will not now be published before October (see https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/may/17/grenfell-fire-inquiry-admits-it-will-not-report-until-october). Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the chairman of the inquiry, had previously told survivors that his conclusions would be ready this spring but the solicitor to the inquiry, Caroline Featherstone, said on Friday that reaching conclusions was proving “far more complex and time-consuming task than originally anticipated”. She also confirmed that hearings for the second phase of the inquiry, examining issues that led up to the fire (possibly including what role sprinklers might have played), would not start until the beginning of 2020. They had originally been expected to start this year. It becomes increasingly likely then that the Phase 2 report will not be available until 2021. There is a graphic of the steps needed before Phase 2 can start at https://assets.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/inline-files/Path%20to%20P2%20hearings%20English.pdf.

Obviously, as always, our thoughts will be with the survivors and the relatives of those who were lost, who will have to wait still longer for this report as we come up to the second anniversary of the tragedy. However, this also has huge implications from Wandsworth Council’s action against residents in imposing sprinklers. As you will recall, last September the Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HROSC) passed an amendment proposed by Cllr Peter Graham which included inter alia a decision: “to allow directions from the First Tier Property Tribunal (FTT) and recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry to shape whether, and how, the programme is progressed across the Council’s high-rise stock.” The amendment was accepted by the Council’s Executive Committee on September 17 and therefore became Council policy. Phase 1 of Grenfell, which focussed purely on what happened on the night in question, did not therefore look at sprinklers and may be unlikely to comment on them – and in any case will not have reported by the time the case goes before the FTT in September. Since Council policy at present is to “allow recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry to shape whether and how the programme is progressed” then it would seem to follow that no decision can be taken until 2021 – when it may be getting a bit close to the Council elections.

Anyone sensible, one might think, would simply say “ok, we introduced this scheme to put people’s minds at rest, not because of any real safety concerns (as Mr Ian Stewart, Assistant Director of Housing Management, has said: ‘To be clear, neither Members nor officers have referred to our blocks being unsafe in any way’). Now we realise it has had precisely the opposite effect so we are going to drop it and wait until we have more clarity from Grenfell Phase 2 before working with residents as to the way forward.” However, one of my Conservative contacts tells me that the atmosphere form the Council leader is simply “I’ve made the decision, I can’t admit I might have got it wrong”.

You may recall the Council’s legal representative, Mark Cooper, initially told the Tribunal that the September 2018 amendment did not change Council  policy and the whole matter could be agreed by the Director of Housing on his own. After Councillor Clare Gilbert and I wrote to the Mr Cooper pointing out that this was simply not the case he had to send a rather humiliating apology and correction, in which he felt he needed to say that he “had not intended to mislead the Tribunal in any way” – something one might have thought would have gone without saying in most circumstances. I did write to Mr Cooper offering to check any future submissions to try to avoid such embarrassment as obviously, as a Councillor, I do not want Wandsworth’s reputation to suffer any further but have not had a reply.

PETITIONS

The First-Tier Tribunal has said it will pay great attention to the views of residents. I checked with the Council and they say they have had petitions from just ten of the 100 affected Wandsworth blocks, viz:

  • Bisley House
  • Allenford House
  • Swaythling House
  • Tatchbury House
  • Kimpton House
  • Rushmere House
  • Oatlands Court
  • Tymperley Court
  • Castlecombe Drive
  • Park Court

This rather surprised me as I thought that petitions had also been submitted from Edgecombe/William Harvey Houses and Andrew Reed House in West Hill Ward. Have any others gone astray? In any case it is clear that if possible it would be helpful to organise petitions from as many of the other affected blocks as possible and we do have a time to organise and do that. I’d appreciate comments and would be happy to offer any advice or suggestions.

Best wishes,

MALCOLM GRIMSTON

Councillor (Independent), West Hill Ward

END

Caveats

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.

Receive articles into your inbox when uploaded on the blog

To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.

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.

To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.

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

Councillor Grimston water sprinkler update (27 March 2019)

Background

The below is an email received from Councillor Malcom Grimston regarding water sprinklers received on 27 March 2019.

Email

From: Malcolm Grimston

To: News from Councillor Malcolm Grimston

Sent: Wednesday, March 27, 2019, 12:26:14 PM GMT

Subject: 10+ storey news March 27 2019

Dear All,

Please pass this on to anyone you think might find it interesting and share it with your household. If you know of anyone who might like to receive the newsletters please ask them to email me. You can follow me on Twitter @malcolmgrimston and see my occasional musings on my blog, malcolmgrimston.com. If you wish to unsubscribe please email me.

DELAY

Many residents and opposition Councillors made representations to the First-Tier Tribunal (FTT) asking for a ‘stay’ of the legal process involved in the Council’s proposal to impose sprinklers on all flats in Council high rise buildings to allow us to put together a reasonable defence case. The FTT has now agreed to put the process back for a further six months. The Council has abandoned the pretence that the matter is urgent and the FTT says it is “concerned that there have been real difficulties in the leaseholders securing effective representation, in dealing with the issues of collective participation and in their ability to deal effectively with the documentation provided by the London Borough of Wandsworth in support of its statement of case. This is due to the high number of leaseholders who are respondents to the application, the fact that they are dispersed across numerous properties and the complexity of the issues in the case.” (It is also a clear implied criticism of the Council’s efforts, such as they are, to get the information to leaseholders in time.) “In the circumstances, and in the interests of justice, the Tribunal considers that compliance with the directions order of November 2018 should be suspended until September 2019. By that time it is likely that the findings and recommendations from Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry will be available which may assist with the further conduct of this application.” (Actually the issue of sprinklers was hardly mentioned in the Grenfell Inquiry Stage 1 – it will be looked into along with other safety issues in the second phase next year.) Given the obstinacy of the Council in not accepting that its policy, which it stated at the time was not about safety but about offering ‘reassurance’ to residents, had actually had the opposite effect and so should be abandoned this is probably the best we could have got.

Although the FTT process is confined to leaseholders I have always been struck by the numbers of Council tenants who are also very unhappy at these proposals and I am making sure that their views are not forgotten. Some local authorities, like Manchester City Council, which have actually consulted their residents, have decided to allow individual residents to opt out of their sprinkler scheme if they wish. It is rather sad: the ruling group in Wandsworth clearly could have chosen to work with our residents in coming to a position that everyone could support or at least live with, instead of setting off on a ‘winner takes all’ battle. It also demolishes the idea that every flat has to have sprinklers or the exercise is not worth it – the Council wouldn’t say that about fire extinguishers or smoke alarms, say.

LEGAL ADVICE

Last September the Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HROSC) passed an amendment proposed by Cllr Peter Graham which included inter alia a decision: “to allow directions from the First Tier Property Tribunal and recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry to shape whether, and how, the programme is progressed across the Council’s high-rise stock.” The amendment was accepted by the Council’s Executive Committee on September 17 and therefore became Council policy. To be fair to Cllr Graham he made clear at the Committee that he felt the Council was wrong to have rushed into its sprinkler policy without waiting for the outcome of the Grenfell Inquiry and other studies.

Oddly the lawyer acting for the Council, Mark Cooper, claimed in a letter to the Tribunal on March 12 that this decision is ‘not a decision of the Council. It is an operational decision within the Director’s delegated authority with a view to implementation of works.” In other words, he claimed that Mr Reilly could decide for himself whether to install sprinklers without further reference to Councillors. This is of course tosh and when I raised it with Mr Cooper another letter had to go to the Tribunal (on March 13) apologising for the error and promising that “it was not intended to mislead the Tribunal in any way”. I cannot imagine for a second that a lawyer would deliberately seek to make untrue statements so the question remains: who was giving him the instructions about this and why were they so blatantly inaccurate? Whether it was deliberate or (more likely) incompetent, the effect yet again has been to tie up our time, notably that of residents who are already putting a lot of effort into this along with (particularly) Cllr Claire Gilbert and me. It is sapping to have to monitor every statement from the Council to check for the gross inaccuracies and make sure they are doing what the Tribunal requires them to do. I have written to Mr Cooper offering to vet the ‘information’ he is being given before publication as errors of this nature put the Council in very bad light and as a Councillor I clearly do not want the Council’s reputation among residents to suffer even more of a blow. I have not heard back as yet.

MY MISTAKE

I entered into what I thought was clearly confidential correspondence with the secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fire Safety – my main question was whether they thought residents had any right over their own lives and their own homes but I was of course interested in what he had to say about the safety issues. Like most APPGs, this one is in considerable part a lobby group for the sprinkler industry (which would stand to make tens of millions of pounds if the Wandsworth scheme went ahead). On the Fire Sector Federation (the trade association for the industry)’s website (https://firesectorfederation.co.uk/workstreams/all-party-parliamentary-fire-safety-rescue-group.php ) the APPG is described as a ‘workstream’ of the FSF and there is a list of no fewer than 21 commercial companies belonging to the Federation which have “recently either held events or given short presentations to the All-Party Group about their work, and the issues which are of concern”. This is not to say that everything they say is to be discounted or that the secretary is not sincere in his belief in sprinklers (he clearly is, on talking to him) but for whatever reason the secretary, without my permission needless to say, copied his reply to my questions to the Leader of the Council and the Housing Department before I had a chance to challenge him. This led to the bizarre situation of the Leader of the Council and the Assistant Director of Housing quoting from and circulating a letter written to me without even informing me beforehand that that was what they intended to do. I don’t think it has done any harm to the main debate but it was frankly annoying to think that I may unwittingly have aided the Council in its battle against residents’ interests. I regret ever getting involved in the correspondence but I guess you live and learn.

SUBMISSION

I have now put in my detailed submission to the Tribunal. I am happy to share it but at heart it boils down to whether a reasonable person signing their lease (at any time between 1982 and 2018) would have believed that the meaning of the words ‘maintenance’, ‘administration’ and ‘security’ would have included ‘imposing sprinklers’.

Best wishes,

MALCOLM GRIMSTON

Councillor (Independent), West Hill Ward

END

Caveats

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.

Receive articles into your inbox when uploaded on the blog

To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.

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.

To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.

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

Labour Newsletter (February 2019)

Background

The latest newsletter from Labour is here. What do you think?

No mention of the regeneration (other than it was spoken about at the Full Council), water sprinklers, pot holes, what they doing about car parking pressures………just to name a few aspects……..

Caveats

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.

Receive articles into your inbox when uploaded on the blog

To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.

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.

To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.

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

Seen the Alton Leaseholders sprinkler news?

Background

The Alton Leaseholders Association (ALA) has produced this newsletter. Have you seen it?

If you wish to contribute to the fund to challenge the Council’s move towards installing water sprinklers then please email the Association at – altonleaseholders@yahoo.com

Caveats

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.

Receive articles into your inbox when uploaded on the blog

To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.

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.

To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.

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

Councillor Grimston water sprinkler update (8 January 2019)

Background

The below is an email received from Councillor Malcom Grimston regarding water sprinklers received on 8 January 2019.

Email

From: Malcolm Grimston <malcolmgrimston@btconnect.com>

To: News from Councillor Malcolm Grimston <mgrimston@wandsworth.gov.uk>

Sent: ‎Wednesday‎, ‎January‎ ‎9‎, ‎2019‎ ‎11‎:‎17‎:‎43‎ ‎AM‎ ‎GMT

Subject: 10+ storey news update January 8 2019

Happy New year to one and all.

TIMETABLE

Make of this what you will. A couple of weeks before Christmas I wrote to Brian Reilly, Director of Housing, in the following terms.

“As I understand it, current Council policy is that a decision on whether (and how) to impose sprinklers in all 10+ storey blocks will be dependent on the outcome not only of the (First Tier) Tribunal case, itself subject to serial delays, but also on the report of the Grenfell Inquiry. (As you will recall, the wording of the amendment to Paper 18-279, passed on September 13 at the OSC and subsequently accepted by the Executive, was: “to allow directions from the First Tier Property Tribunal and recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry to shape whether, and how, the programme is progressed across the Council’s high-rise stock.”) This clearly cannot refer to Phase 1 of the Inquiry (which is now coming to close), as the issue of sprinklers is not with the remit of Phase 1, the terms of reference of which are expressed on the official Inquiry website (https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/news/update-inquiry-2 ) as follows:

‘Phase 1 will focus on the factual narrative of the events of the night of 14 June 2017. This will include: the existing fire safety and prevention measures at Grenfell Tower; where and how the fire started; the development of the fire and smoke; how the fire and smoke spread from its original seat to other parts of the building; the chain of events before the decision was made that there was no further saveable life in the building; and the evacuation of residents.’

There being no sprinklers in Grenfell at the time of the fire it follows that they could not form part of Phase 1 (and indeed have not done so, for example not being a topic addressed by the many expert witnesses). It is Phase 2 which will “address the remainder of the issues identified in the list of issues which was published on the Inquiry’s website on 14 September 2017.” (See https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/sites/default/files/List%20of%20Issues%204%20JUNE%20%5BFINAL%5D.pdf  for an updated list of these issues – sprinklers are not specifically mentioned but could and presumably will come under a number of the headings.)

You will be further aware of the widespread coverage today of suggestions that Phase 2 may not even begin to take evidence until next year (e.g. https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/news/second-phase-of-grenfell-inquiry-may-not-start-until-2020-59455 ) – in the words of one of the key barristers, “it is unlikely that phase two will commence before the autumn of [this] year at the earliest and possibly not until 2020.”

It would seem inevitable, if the Council is to fulfil the policy described above and to allow relevant recommendations from Grenfell concerning sprinklers to shape the final decision, that no such final decision on the imposition of sprinklers against the will and interest of (at least some) residents can be taken before Phase 2 reports, quite possibly in 2021 (unless the Inquiry in Phase 1 breaks the bounds of its own terms of reference and includes sprinklers in its interim recommendations, possible but not certain). It would be helpful to have clarification on this point – I am sure residents will take some comfort from knowing that this significant and (in their view) unwarranted intrusion on their rights to enjoy their homes will not be visited on them for some years, by which time a more proportionate approach may have emerged.”

In response, Mr Ian Stewart, Assistant Director of Housing, told me:

“We are aware of the shift in the Grenfell enquiry timescales and have brought this to the attention of Members. We will revert to you once the position becomes clearer.”

So – are they thinking about delaying the whole scheme so dramatically as in effect to cancel it and start again after Grenfell Phase 2? We shall see.

Incidentally, a source from within the Wandsworth Conservative group tells me that Councillor Clare Salier, the Wandsworth Cabinet Member for Housing at the time of Grenfell, was very lukewarm about the whole idea of forcing sprinklers onto residents but was overruled by the Council Leader. That source may be spinning me a yarn of course but it is consistent with the observation that others in the Conservative Group pushed for that amendment that so diluted the Council’s position.

MISSING LINKS

I believe we have central contact points in all of the hundred 10+ storey blocks affected by the Council’s policy – either individually or in some cases, notably Roehampton, one contact covering a large number of blocks – except the following:

 LATCHMERE WARD

  • Chesterton House
  • Clarke Lawrence Court
  • Inkster House
  • Sendall Court
  • Shaw Court
  • Sporle Court
  • Waldore House
  • Weybridge Point

QUEENSTOWN WARD

  • Connor Court
  • Turpin House

SOUTHFIELDS WARD

  • Albon House
  • Edwyn House
  • Eliot Court
  • Knowles House
  • Sudbury House
  • ST MARY PARK WARD
  • Compton House
  • Cranmer House
  • Gaitskell Court
  • Gardiner House
  • Macey House
  • Whitgift House
  • THAMESFIELD WARD
  • Phelps House
  • TOOTING WARD
  • Chillingford House
  • Hayes End House

Do we have contact points in any of these that I may have missed? Clearly it would be helpful for example to get any of these blocks to submit petitions if they have not already done so and to get them involved in the wider campaign. I have a contact list of the other blocks that I can circulate.

 COMMUNICATIONS

Ian Stewart has made it clear that the Council intends to do the bare minimum amount of communication that it can get away with given the demands of the Tribunal. In particular the Council’s own communications are to be reserved for Council propaganda.

“You may be aware that in relation to this specific issue the property tribunal convened a small communications group on which officers , councillors and residents sit. Having consulted with this group before Christmas the Tribunal issued a set of specific directions as to how the Council should communicate with affected leaseholders over the next stage of the application and the Council has now complied with those instructions. Having sent a copy of the Council’s submission by post to every affected  leaseholder and posted the document on the website alongside the appendices the Council does not intend going beyond the directions of the tribunal and either post notices within blocks or using any of the Council’s publications as suggested. If you feel that the Council has failed to comply with any of the directions issued by the tribunal then you are free to make your point direct to the tribunal.”

COMPLAINTS

I am pursuing two complaints against the Council press office – for implying that the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fire Safety (in effect a lobby group on behalf of the industry, though this does not of course mean that its publications are not worth consideration) was in effect a Select Committee ‘tasked with improving fire safety’; and one for a bizarre claim that starts “A young mother, who says her life was probably saved by a sprinkler that put out a fire in her flat …” (As far as I can tell she did not say this at all – in any case of the 10,000 fat fires in 2017 only 6 resulted in fatalities – too many of course but hardly a ‘probable’ outcome. I am meeting the Chief Executive next week to see if the press Office can be brought more into line with its duty to inform the local public, rather than simply spout Conservative propaganda.

Incidentally, I also had a long chat with Ronnie King OBE who chairs the workstream of the Fire Sector Federation, the trade body for those firms that make money out of selling sprinklers and other fire protection measures, which organises and funds the APPG. He is clearly a very sincere and passionate believer in sprinklers for all (he says he is not paid for the work he does), but he also made it very clear that he does not support the Council’s determination to force the policy through without any meaningful consultation with residents and against their wishes. I think he also recognises the merits of a block-by-block approach as advocated by the London Fire Brigade among others. He is going to send me some material and has then offered to meet – I’d be happy to ask him to come to talk to a group of residents if that would be helpful.

GRENFELL INQUIRY

I have had some correspondence with Michael Mansfield QC, who has been representing some of the families from Grenfell. Mr Mansfield portrays himself as taking the side of the little person against ‘the establishment’ but made a couple of comments at the end of the evidence sessions for the Inquiry about putting sprinklers in all blocks. Understandably this is something the Grenfell community has been pressing for but in a cordial exchange of views I tried to suggest that it was not so black-and-white. It became pretty clear that he did not have a full understanding of how the Housing Revenue Account works, arguing that a rich borough like Wandsworth should fund the works presumably from the Council tax, which of course is not permitted. I outlined the broader concerns here in Wandsworth but have no idea whether he might reflect on this when it comes to the next stage of the Inquiry.

NEXT STEPS

It has been suggested that we have another meeting soon, perhaps in the west of the borough (Roehampton). It would be helpful, from my point of view, to get some clarity round how we can support and encourage those blocks which have not yet done so to submit petitions and to work out our approach to the March 5 evidence session. I am working through the full statement of case and will try to be match the work I have done on the background case to the document as a direct response. Obviously anyone who wants to help will be very welcome! I think it would be also be useful to get a feel as to how the ‘technical’ case is going as I understand relatively few tower blocks have been retrofitted with sprinklers so there may not be much evidence out there.

Best wishes,

MALCOLM GRIMSTON

Councillor (Independent), West Hill Ward

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