Tag Archives: newsletter

Councillor Malcolm Grimston’s 10+ storey block update (12 September 2018)

The latest update from Councillor Malcolm Grimston was received on 12 September 2018 with regards to the proposed retro-fitting of water sprinklers in 10+ storey blocks in the Wandsworth Borough Council ward.

———————-

From: Malcolm Grimston

To: News from Councillor Malcolm Grimston

Sent: ‎Wednesday‎, ‎September‎ ‎12‎, ‎2018‎ ‎10‎:‎37‎:‎08‎ ‎AM‎ ‎BST

Subject: Update on the First Tier Property Tribunal

Dear All,

TRIBUNAL UPDATE

I’ve had a update on the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) process. The Case Management Hearing was scheduled for September 27 but as so many leaseholders have registered that they wish to attend to make their views known that the meeting needs to be held in the Civic Suite next to the Town Hall. The date has therefore had to be changed to October 16th, again at 10am. The date for returning forms has also been extended, to Friday October 5, so if any leaseholders have not responded you can still do so – an astonishing 500 or so have already done so. (I am happy to act as your nominee to the meeting if you cannot attend.) The FTT has once again stressed that whether, leaseholders attend the case management hearing or not or make representations at this stage, they will still have the chance to make written representations, give evidence or make submissions to the final hearing.

Petitions against the proposals are still coming in – the Council does not seem to be keeping a central log of them but I am asking them to do so.

TOMORROW’S MEETING

The Housing and Regeneration Committee is meeting tomorrow night (Thursday September 13) at 7:30pm at the Town Hall (Wandsworth High Street SW18 2PU). You can see the agenda at https://democracy.wandsworth.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=575&MId=5828. There will be an opportunity to protest about the Council’s imposition of sprinklers in all 10+ storey blocks, starting outside the Town Hall from 6:30pm. I will be there to say hello. If you can stay for the start (at least) of the meeting itself then please do – the main point is to put to bed once and for all this myth that the objections have come from a ‘small number’ of leaseholders who have been ‘whipped up’.

I am presenting a paper at the meeting, along with Councillor Paul White, the Labour housing lead, asking among other things for money to be made available to residents from the Housing Revenue Account to take legal advice, as of course the Council is doing for itself. Right the way through this business the deck has been stacked against the residents. The Council has the list of leasehold properties, so it can send subtly different propaganda to tenants and leaseholders, while not making that information available to residents. The Council can send a letter round all properties very easily (again paid for with your money) – it is much more difficult for volunteers to do this, though credit to Labour for managing this (and I have tried to do my bit too). The Council has already received one set of legal advice, paid for by tenants and leaseholders, but has absolutely refused to let me or residents see what it said. They now intend to do the same again. I am arguing that on the simple grounds of fair play and natural justice, residents should receive the same amount of funding to defend themselves as the Council is spending to force this scheme on you.

There will also be a deputation from Bisley House on the wider issues.

GAGGING ORDER

I am now being told that the Conservative group intends to prevent me from taking part in the debate tomorrow night on this paper. They will let me introduce the paper for five minutes but I must then keep quiet. This is important for the Council as it will allow the Director of Housing to put forward a response to our paper but I will not then have the chance to challenge him on details that I might see as being wrong or biased. I will try to object to this under the Council’s Standing Orders – there is nothing in the SOs to prevent me taking part if the Conservative majority allows it – but the Council throughout has used every trick to suppress or dismiss objections (even referring to residents as ‘the opposition’) so I suppose I should not be surprised.

THE COMMITTEE

Technically the Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HROSC) does not take decisions – it advises the Council’s Cabinet (or Executive), which has decisions-making powers. However, the Cabinet is supposed to pay attention to its views so the meeting tomorrow is important. The members of the Committee are:

and it would do no harm for them to know the strength of feeling over this issue. You might also contact the Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Kim Caddy, KCaddy@wandsworth.gov.uk.

Please let me know if you would like to opt out of these emails.

Best wishes,

MALCOLM GRIMSTON

Councillor (Independent), West Hill Ward

 ————————

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 Party has been busy regarding sprinklers

Introduction

The Labour Party have been busy drumming up interest regarding the retro fitting of water sprinklers and the below refers to some activity.

Newsletter #1

Newsletter #2

What do you think?

Please leave a comment on the blog with your thoughts.

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.

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. Please note that if an email is sent any response might be part of a generic group email.

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 Malcolm Grimston’s 10+ storey block update – dates to remember (30 August 2018)

The latest update from Councillor Malcolm Grimston was received on 30 August 2018 with regards to the proposed retro-fitting of water sprinklers in 10+ storey blocks in the Wandsworth Borough Council ward.

 —–

From: Malcolm Grimston

To: News from Councillor Malcolm Grimston

Sent: ‎Thursday‎, ‎August‎ ‎30‎, ‎2018‎ ‎11‎:‎44‎:‎03‎ ‎PM‎ ‎BST

Subject: 10+ storey newsletter – dates to remember

Dear All,

I am away for a few days from Saturday (though I should be in email contact) but just a few final reminders about the sprinkler campaign.

SEPTEMBER 2 (everyone), 7pm at the Alma Pub, 499 Old York Road, Wandsworth SW18 1TF – I gather the Labour Party is holding a public meeting to help build the campaign.

SEPTEMBER 7 (leaseholders) – last day for letting the First Tier Tribunal know you wish to be ‘involved’ in the process. You do NOT have to pay anything; you do NOT have to fill in the long form, only the one-page Reply Form (fourth page of the papers the Council sent round); you do NOT have to go on September 27 (see below – but it is great if you can) or indeed do anything else; and you CAN submit it by email as an attachment despite the automated email you may receive saying ‘applications’ can only be done by post (you are not making an ‘application’ apparently). So I would suggest as many of you as possible register your wish to be involved so as to emphasise the level of unhappiness with the Council’s scheme.

Many of you have already nominated me to speak on your behalf on September 27 if you can’t make it – I am very happy to do so and if anyone else wants to do the same please feel free; my address to put in the box in the middle of the Reply Form is Town Hall, Wandsworth High Street, London SW18 2PU.

SEPTEMBER 13 (everyone) – Housing and Regeneration Committee meeting at the Town Hall. I am suggesting that we have a protest outside the Town Hall at say 6:30pm onwards so we can catch members of the Housing Committee as they arrive at the Town Hall. If you can stay on for the meeting itself, at 7:30, please do: I have written a paper which I am presenting alongside the Labour Group asking that money be made available from your rents and service charges for legal advice, to match the sum that the Council is using to support its case against you.

SEPTEMBER 27 (leaseholders), 10am – preliminary meeting of the Tribunal, venue not yet decided.

I am working on a ‘master document’ to summarise the full case, which I intend to submit some time before the main Tribunal hearing that is expected in November. If you would like to see it please let me know, comments will be welcome. If anyone wants to write a technical/engineering commentary that would be helpful as that is out of my field of expertise.

Finally, extracts from emails which I have had from you which I have found particularly moving. This policy really is causing an enormous amount of misery to residents who have a right to expect better from their Council.

  • I’m writing to you with regard to “Sprinkler Gate.” I have quite a bit of experience when it comes to fitting sprinklers as I am a qualified sprinkler fitter. I have worked on some of the tallest residential new builds in Canary Wharf and have worked on the iconic Battersea Power Station development. But I have also worked on retro fits of old people’s homes around London and I can inform you that it is a very disruptive, incredibly messy and unpleasant experience for both residents and fitters alike. The type of concrete that our particular building is constructed from both makes fire spreading practically impossible and makes it a very lengthy job to get sprinklers fitted. I, like most leaseholders, don’t have thousands of pounds lying around to pay for something we don’t want or need. Other residents I have spoken to about the subject are all in agreement, tenants and leaseholders alike.
  • I am in my mid 50s and have worked hard for the last 30 years always paying my bills on time. I now find that I have not much of a pension built up (some of the money given to Wandsworth council for poor major works should have been put into a pension). I also have health issues and this stress/worry about more major internal building works is not helping. When I bought my flat in the early 1990s I thought that I would be able to retire by now but sadly I may in fact have to sell and move a long way from what I call home.
  • I am now ill from exhaustion and not working after dealing with all those builders and troubles. I have nobody to help me out financially as I live singly. Would be devastated if I have to pay for sprinklers. Two lifts in our block do not work intermittently, soon probably they will have to be exchanged for new ones – this is another very likely expense in this block and big worry for me. Even spreading the costs for the sprinklers and lifts over four years will not help me if I am not working and ill. So the only option would be to sell my flat as I will not have the money to repay. Is this what WBC is pushing me to do it – sell it as I cannot afford the potential future costs of sprinklers? But I am in my 60s and I cannot move out again it is too traumatic!!!
  • I oppose the installation of sprinklers in my flat because the construction of our block is safe and does not allow for fire spread: the Fire Risk Assessment from the Fire Brigade does not recommend sprinklers in our block. These blocks were safe to live for the last 60 years – why are they now unsafe? I have not witnessed any fire in this block since I have moved in here about 15 years ago. The installation of those sprinklers will brutalise our interiors and there would be further nuisance with the sprinklers which goes with that chronic damp and mould on the walls and obviously accidental damage of sprinklers and floods and extra redecoration and extra costs of contents insurance. I do not trust WBC as with regard to cost for the sprinklers that it will be just £4,000 – I fear the real cost will be much more as has happened before. I have family of four and I am the only earner – I cannot afford a third loan to pay for the sprinklers. It is so just frightening, how I will cope?

Best wishes, hope to see you on the 13th!

Malcolm Grimston

Councillor (Independent), West Hill Ward


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 Malcolm Grimston’s 10+ storey block update (22 August 2018)

The latest update from Councillor Malcolm Grimston was received on 22 August 2018 with regards to the proposed retro-fitting of water sprinklers in 10+ storey blocks in the Wandsworth Borough Council ward.


From: Malcolm Grimston

To: News from Councillor Malcolm Grimston

Sent: ‎Wednesday‎, ‎August‎ ‎22‎, ‎2018‎ ‎01‎:‎50‎:‎21‎ ‎PM‎ ‎BST

Subject: 10+ storey news – the Tribunal: further confusion

Dear All,

I am hearing that the Tribunal is not accepting electronic applications to become ‘involved in proceedings’ – see the attached screen shot. This strikes me as extraordinary but I would suggest you get your application in as soon as possible to make sure you are not rejected at the last minute – you only need to fill in the one-page ‘Reply Form’ in the Council paperwork and certainly you do not need to pay anything!  I’d suggest send your form in by email at first but if you are rejected leave enough time to send by snailmail. Several of you have nominated me to attend the first meeting on September 27 on your behalf which I am very happy to do – if any others who can’t go on that date would like to do the same it may strengthen the sense that there is widespread anger and opposition to these proposals.

“SECURITY”

I made an error in my last email as I had missed paras 43-45 of the Council’s case summary document. The Council does intend to argue that the sprinkler system is necessary to ensure the security of each Block which has a ‘Type 2’ lease, on the grounds that “there is a risk that that [sic] any Block may sustain fire damage ad in the worst case burn down and thereby cause insecurity to the occupants of the Block.” So the Council is willing to recharge just the Type 2 leaseholders if the Tribunal rejects the administration and maintenance arguments.

Incidentally the whole argument seems very odd to me.

In terms of the installation of sprinkler systems being ‘necessary’ or even helpful to the administration of the Blocks, the Council has explained to me how there will need to be an extra £1.2 million spent on officer time over the next four years to administer the scheme. If administration is indeed going to be improved it is hard to see why it should cost an extra £1.2 million.

Similarly the maintenance of the blocks, for from it being impossible without sprinklers, will be hugely more complex if in addition to the day-to-day issues there will now have to be ongoing maintenance of a tacked-on sprinkler system, ensuring that accidental and deliberate triggering is unlikely, mopping up when it happens and so on.

I also can’t see how people feeling secure in their own homes, knowing that nobody (except the rare criminal) can force their way in and damage their property, will feel more secure under the threat that at any time the Council can do just that.

DON’T FORGET THE PROTEST AT THE TOWN HALL ON SEPTEMBER 13 – Paul White (the Labour Party housing spokesman) and I are just finishing our paper arguing that money should be made available to residents from the Housing Revenue Account to take legal advice to defend yourselves against the Council. I am told that a senior Council officer explained at the Borough Housing Forum that the Council would not be letting residents see the Council’s legal advice because “you wouldn’t show your legal advice to the opposition”. Very illuminating, especially as ‘the opposition’ had to pay for that advice!

Best wishes,

MALCOLM GRIMSTON

Councillor (Independent) West Hill Ward


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 Malcolm Grimston’s 10+ storey block update (19 August 2018)

The latest update from Councillor Malcolm Grimston was received on 10 August 2018 with regards to the proposed retro-fitting of water sprinklers in 10+ storey blocks in the Wandsworth Borough Council ward.

 _________________

From: Malcolm Grimston <malcolmgrimston@btconnect.com>

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

Sent: ‎Sunday‎, ‎August‎ ‎19‎, ‎2018‎ ‎08‎:‎55‎:‎23‎ ‎PM‎ ‎BST

Subject: 10+ storey news – tribunal special (Case reference LON/00BJ/LSC/2018/0286)

Dear All,

The Council has published more on how it intends to proceed with regard to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) looking into the lawfulness or otherwise of imposing sprinklers on 10+ storey blocks and charging residents for the privilege. See http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/200570/safety_in_your_council_home/2294/fire_safety/9. As has sadly become normal it is a dreadfully biased summary of the true situation, designed to help the Council in railroading this through against residents’ wishes. There is a very tight deadline of September 7 for comments: whatever the motive for this, the effect is that many people will be on holiday or otherwise unable to respond in time. The Council should have circulated the relevant papers to all leaseholders by now but I am hearing from several of you who have not received them.

TIMETABLE

September 7 – comments on the proposals and requests to be involved in the proceedings have to be with the FTT. This involves filling in a one-page Reply Form and sending it to both the First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber (Residential Property), 10 Alfred Place, London WC1E 7LR – email rplondon@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk – and sending a copy to the Council’s representative, Mark Cooper, South London Legal Partnership, Gifford House, 67c St Heller Avenue, Morden SM4 6HY, mark.cooper@merton.gov.uk. I attach the Preliminary Directions for those of you that have not seen them – the form is on the fourth page. Although a number of Residents’ Associations are putting together responses from their residents, which is excellent, again it cannot do any harm if every leaseholder who opposes this writes to the Tribunal asking to be ‘involved in the proceedings’ and, if available on the 27th of September (see below), asks to be allowed to attend in person.

September 13, 6.30 for 7.30pm – Housing Committee meeting at the Town Hall (at the junction of Wandsworth High Street and Fairfield Street), a chance to express your opposition in person. I’d suggest meeting outside the Town Hall from 6.30 onwards: the Committee meeting itself is open to the public and Councillor Paul White, Labour Party spokesman on Housing and I will be putting a paper on the matter to the Committee (see below). If any residents wish to make a ‘deputation’ to the Committee (perhaps from the east of the Borough as we have already had excellent presentations from West Hill and Roehampton) to express your views then please let me know as soon as possible.

September 27, 10am – case management hearing in London, at 10 Alfred Place WC1E 7LR if there is little interest or at another venue if a lot of people wish to come. If you want to take part in this you must fill out the Reply Form and submit it in time. Technically this is only for leaseholders but it can do the case no harm if Council tenants who oppose this imposition also write to Mr Cooper and the Tribunal.

If any of you cannot get along but would like to nominate me (or anyone else) to speak on your behalf please include my name and address on the form – i.e. Councillor Malcolm Grimston, Town Hall, Wandsworth High Street, London SW18 2PU (and let me know!).

HOUSING COMMITTEE, SEPTEMBER 13

Councillor Paul White and I will make three suggestions in our Paper on September 13.

  1. It is against natural justice that the Council is using residents’ money on legal advice and representation without making a similar sum available to residents to defend themselves. This is wrong and should be changed. Tribunal to ensure that it has the authority to undertake and charge for the works.(I have personally asked the Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Kim Caddy, kcaddy@wandsworth.gov.uk, as a matter of natural justice she will make funds available to residents up to the level of your money that the Council is going to use against you. Understandably she did not sound keen but is going to ‘look into it’.)
  2. The Council should work with residents to find a third party who can carry out a block-by-block fire risk assessment to determine for which if any of our blocks a reasonable case might be made for sprinklers. Many residents do not trust the Council to do this fairly without simply coming up with a blanket support for its policies.
  3. A binding ballot be held on a block by block basis: only if a majority of residents support the installation of sprinklers should the work go ahead.

If any more petitions are available by the beginning of September we can submit them and refer to them at this meeting.

SAMPLE LETTER

For interest, you can read a letter to the FTT from the Battersea Park Estate RA here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OMVG2r8W4txKEuzJOZ2vO1opfhMq7LdI5nG8JJSSrfw/edit?usp=sharing.

THE COUNCIL’S CASE

  1. One interesting point struck me on reading the Council’s case. The ‘Type 1’ Leases refer to the Council being allowed to recover service charges to “do such things as the Council may decide are necessary to ensure the efficient maintenance and administration of the Block.” (The dictionary definition of ‘administration’ is ‘the process or activity of running a business, organisation etc.’ and of ‘maintenance’ is the process of preserving a condition or situation or the state of being preserved’.) Only Type 2 leases also refer to the ‘security’ of the block in addition. This is annoying for the Council as in effect they cannot argue that the forced imposition of sprinklers improves the security of the blocks, as even if successful this would leave them unable to recharge the work to those with Type 1 leases and even for this Council that might be found to be unacceptably unfair. So they are arguing the following:

“The installation of sprinkler systems are [sic] necessary for the efficient maintenance of each Block because in the absence of a sprinkler system there is a risk that any Block may sustain fire damage and in the worst case burn down and hence require the rebuilding or other repair and maintenance’.

The installation of sprinkler systems are necessary for the efficient administration of each Block because in the absence of a sprinkler system there is a risk that any Block may sustain fire damage and in the worst case burn down and hence require the rebuilding or other repair and maintenance which has an impact on the following matters of administration:

  • the amount of the insurance premium. That is payable in respect of the Block;
  • the rehousing of the tenants and lessees resident in the Block whilst the Block is rebuilt.”

The Council has (inevitably in my view given the wording of the leases) not said that it is doing this to save lives, just to save money and inconvenience in the vanishingly unlikely events both that a fire would consume an entire Block (which has never happened in any block without cladding or, in one case, wooden balconies) and that if fire did break out in such a way sprinklers would prevent its spread (which we know they wouldn’t because of the fire e.g. at the Address Downtown Hotel in Dubai in 2015). However, the leases, remember, say that recharging is only allowable if the work in question is necessary to ensure the efficient maintenance and administration of the Block – not that it might under some extremely unlikely circumstances make it a bit easier. So on the face of it the Council needs to show that without imposing sprinklers on you all it will be unable to administer the Blocks (i.e. send out bills, charge the rent, put letters round asking you not to throw rubbish out of your windows or leave bikes in the stairwell) or to maintain them (e.g. carry out programmes of redecoration, mop the floors. However, it is precisely points like this which need a professional legal viewpoint.

Incidentally, the Prime Minister made the Government’s position clear in October 2017 (see https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-sprinklers-money-grenfell-promise-broken-accusations-a8007501.html). “It is not the case that sprinklers are the only issue that needs to be looked at or addressed, nor is it the only solution to ensuring the safety [of tower blocks]. In specific rejection of Wandsworth’s request for £30 million funding the Prime Minister said: “[Government financial] support will not include general improvement and enhancements to buildings.”

WHERE WOULD THE MONEY GO?

I am concerned about the cost of the programme and especially the management fees that would go on top of the actual costs of installing the sprinkler systems. Mr Ian Stewart, Assistant Director of Housing Management, tells me: “We will employ a consultant to put the programme together and prepare specifications and then run the contracts. This work will be fee tendered so I’d expect fees of 3-4.5%. Council officer time is a percentage on top of the consultants fees and will reflect the additional work that various officers will have to put in around consultation and billing costs for example. The fee structure is transparent and also challengeable but generally the fees for Wandsworth major works projects fall below the industry average of around 10%. We aren’t intending to employ more staff or pay bonuses in relation to this programme of works.

So the Council will be charging something like 5% to leaseholders and the HRA for its own time but will not be paying anything extra as there won’t be any more staff employed or bonuses paid. So where will it go? (Mr Stewart did not know.) As I understand it the programme will take £24 million from the Housing Revenue Account (I am not sure if leaseholder contributions are on top of this), presuming no big problems with asbestos etc.. 5% of £24 million is a tidy £1.2 million, or £300,000 a year over the four years of the programme. That would buy a huge amount of officer time – if any extra officer time were needed. But we are told it isn’t. Obviously if officers are going to devote time to this instead of doing what they would otherwise be doing then you should all get a rebate of exactly the same amount as the surcharge to reflect the fact that you weren’t getting what you would otherwise be paying for.

THE LETTER TO LEASEHOLDERS

A few comments on the Council’s propaganda letter which has also been published on the website:

Fire safety

Proposal to fit sprinkler systems to high-rise residential blocks

Following the fire at Grenfell Tower last June, we proposed that sprinklers should be fitted to all properties in blocks of 10 storeys or more – bringing fire safety up to the same standard that would be found in a similar newly built block. (If you lived in a private block of the same age as the Council ones you would have nobody coming to impose this on you – the Council is not comparing like with like.) Fire safety experts including the London Fire Brigade Commissioner, the Royal Institute of British Architects and, most recently, a cross-party select committee of MPs have supported the retro-fitting of sprinklers to high rise residential buildings. (The Select Committee says sprinklers should be fitted and paid for by the government. The Fire Brigade, coming under a lot of criticism for its response to Grenfell, is arguing that sprinklers should be fitted in all 6+ storey blocks. I have seen nobody who supports the Council position as it stands.)

How sprinklers can help 

High rise buildings are built to ensure that fire is contained within an individual compartment but there remains a risk that fire can spread and there are recent examples of this happening. (In almost every case that the Council has been able to provide where fire has spread the problem was with flammable cladding, except for one where wooden balconies were involved. There is no evidence at all that fire can spread if there is nothing to spread it and many examples in Wandsworth blocks and elsewhere where fires have indeed been restricted to the property of origin.) Sprinklers are considered the single most effective method of suppressing a fire at the point of origin. It is a matter of fact that sprinklers protect buildings (the many fires in multi-storey hotels, such as the Address Downtown in Dubai, show that the presence of sprinklers does not prevent fire spreading throughout a building when it has flammable cladding) and save lives (the clear evidence is that, with the unique exception of Grenfell, you are least likely to die as a result of a fire breaking out in your property if you live in a 10+ storey block compared to lower properties, and that the imposed sprinklers may save one life in Wandsworth in the next 25 years. By contrast, spending the same sum say dealing with the chronic damp and mould that residents have to put up with would have huge health benefits) and we believe that these works are necessary to ensure that the risk to residents from fire is kept to a minimum. (If you live in a private house or block the Council thinks you are clever enough to be able to take a decision over how best to use your money, but if you are a Council tenant or leaseholder you are too stupid and need the Council to protect you from yourselves.)

Undertaking the works 

For a building to be fully protected, sprinklers must be fitted in every property (the Council’s view is that if you live in private housing you are clever enough to make decisions and we have taken legal advice to establish if the standard lease will allow us to undertake these works to leasehold properties. Our advice (paid from out of the Housing revenue Account – i.e. with residents’ money – but which the Council is still refusing to allow the residents to see) is that we can proceed but before we commit funds to developing a sprinkler programme we have chosen to make an application to the First Tier Property Our advice is that we can proceed but before we commit funds to developing a sprinkler programme we have chosen to make an application to the First Tier Property Tribunal to ensure that it has the authority to undertake and charge for the works.

Best wishes,

MALCOLM GRIMSTON

Councillor (Independent), West Hill Ward

Attached – http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/downloads/file/13625/preliminary_directions

____________

From: Malcolm Grimston <malcolmgrimston@btconnect.com>

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

Sent: ‎Monday‎, ‎August‎ ‎20‎, ‎2018‎ ‎12‎:‎40‎:‎54‎ ‎AM‎ ‎BST

Subject: Tribunal special – extra

Sorry to contact you again but I have had several expressions of concern about the way the document the Council sent out (and which I attached to the newsletter yesterday).

The document has been presented in such a way as to cause confusion and to worry people that they are being charged up to £300 to take part. I do not know if this was deliberate or just thoughtless. However, to be clear, you do not have to pay anything to be registered as being ‘involved’ in the process or to attend on September 27th.

Pages 1-3 of the document are the Tribunal’s preliminary directions.

The fourth page (not numbered as such) is the Reply Form – it is only one page and that is all that you have to return to be registered – you do not have to pay anything.

Page 5-16 (numbered 1-12) are a copy of the application form that the Council has already submitted to the Tribunal. It contains practically nothing of any value to residents. The £100 and £200 sums mentioned on numbered page 9 are the one-off sums the Council has already paid to set the judgment process going (using your money of course). This was a separate document from the First Tier Tribunal and did not have to be put side-by-side with the Reply Form.

Best wishes,

MALCOLM

_______________

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 Malcolm Grimston’s 10+ storey block update (10 August 2018)

The latest update from Councillor Malcolm Grimston was received on 10 August 2018 with regards to the proposed retro-fitting of water sprinklers in 10+ storey blocks in the Wandsworth Borough Council ward.

 ______

From: Grimston, Malcolm (Cllr)

To: Grimston, Malcolm (Cllr)

Sent: ‎Friday‎, ‎August‎ ‎10‎, ‎2018‎ ‎02‎:‎55‎:‎05‎ ‎PM‎ ‎BST

Subject: 10+storey news update August 10 2018

Dear All,

Please pass this on to anyone who might be interested. If you wish to unsubscribe please drop me an email.

CONTENTS

  • Tribunal on the sprinklers – latest information.
  • Cross-Borough opposition.
  • Legal advice.
  • What it means for Council tenants.
  • A range of views.
  • More petitions needed – the Council says that only 18 of the 99 blocks affected have lodged an objection, either directly or through a Residents’ Association.
  • Potential protest – Council committee meeting at the Town Hall, Thursday September 13 2018.

LEASEHOLD TRIBUNAL

Wandsworth submitted its application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (now known as the First Tier Tribunal or FTT) a couple of weeks ago. The Tribunal has written back with directions and the Council has to write out to all affected leaseholders by 17th August with a copy of these directions, the council’s application and the response form. A case management hearing is to be held on September 27th and the full hearing may be in November. I have asked the Council to copy me in on the letter to leaseholders so I can also keep Council tenants and others informed but am not sure if they will do so.

A CROSS-BOROUGH CAMPAIGN

I went to a meeting of Residents’ Associations from the east of the Borough that was held in Battersea on Tuesday, which was also attended by one of the Labour councillors for that area, Maurice McLeod. There is similar anger there to that which I have seen in West Hill and Roehampton. The same six general areas of concern arose there as over here, viz.:

  • the need – when those fires which have spread in high rise blocks have almost all been because of cladding tiles (the only exception the Council has managed to come up with involved wooden balconies, not a common feature of our blocks) then why do we need sprinklers in blocks without cladding?
  • the cost – directly to leaseholders and indirectly to tenants (through the Housing Revenue Account) – the Council estimates the cost to the HRA will be a whopping £24 million though it could be higher if the sprinkler trade cashes in and if asbestos is an issue in any of the blocks;
  • possible problems with accidental or vandalistic triggering of the sprinklers;
  • the disruption the works will cause – both while they are being carried out and to the decoration in the properties – and the poor track record of the Council in doing major works properly;
  • the sense of homes being ‘invaded’ against residents’ wishes – one person told me they felt like they were going to be ‘burgled’ (not literally);
  • the right to choose – why are Council estate residents regarded as being too stupid to take decisions like this for themselves when the Council would never dream of retreating people in private houses or properties in this way even if they had the powers to do so.

Battersea Park Estate is starting up which should be worth a look and present a chance to share ideas. See https://sites.google.com/view/wandsworth-ra-forum/.

LEGAL ADVICE

All the above are good points around which to develop a publicity and political campaign but the issue for the Tribunal will be a legal one. Does the Council have legal powers to recharge leaseholders for the works under the clause in the lease that talks about ‘the security of the block’ as in effect an excuse for imposing whatever costs it chooses on leaseholders. I have already raised the request for the Council to fund residents to the same level that it will fund its own case to the FTT and been rebuffed but the Labour Party at the Town Hall takes the same view as I do and we will be bringing a paper to the Thursday September 13 Housing Committee meeting to that effect. However, if we fail – and we should remember for example that the Council used your money to get legal advice in the first place and then refused to let me or any resident even see the questions which were asked despite my Freedom of Information request – it may be necessary to crowd fund some legal advice. If it comes to that I will let you know details.

COUNCIL TENANTS

Inevitably, since the law gives better protection to leaseholders than to Council tenants the focus will be on the FTT case. However, in a real sense the leaseholders are going in to bat for the many tenants who are equally opposed to this imposition. I have had it confirmed by the Assistant Director of Housing that if the residents’ interests are supported by the Tribunal then the whole scheme will be abandoned.

DIFFERENT VIEWS

Although the impression I get is of an overwhelming opposition to these proposals among leaseholders and tenants alike, it is important bear in mind that there may well be people with the opposite view and their voices need to be heard and respected as well. My position, which I believe is now shared by the Labour Party, is that each block should have its own fire risk assessment done based on whether or not any cladding was used and other factors and then should be consulted (I mean proper consultation, not the Council’s version of the word, i.e. the result will matter) as to whether it wants sprinklers, with residents having the final say.

ACTIONS

Three proposed actions came from Tuesday’s meeting.

  • More petitions from those blocks which have not yet expressed a view – the Council says that only 18 of the 99 blocks affected have lodged an objection, either directly or through a Residents’ Association –but I am waiting for conformation from the Town Hall. Either way, the Council still seems to believe objections are just coming from a few leaseholders and we need evidence to challenge this if it is indeed wrong.
  • A cross-Borough protest outside the Town Hall on THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 13, the date of the next Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting – a chance for members of the Committee to see if it is indeed just a small number of leaseholders who are opposed to this project. This could serve as a springboard to a publicity campaign (it may be an issue which attracts national interest as we seem to be ‘in the lead’ – or first in the firing line, depending on how you look at it – with this type of policy).
  • Feelers on what appropriate legal advice might cost, who might provide it and how it could be funded.

Best wishes,

MALCOLM GRIMSTON

Councillor (Independent), West Hill Ward

——-

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