Tag Archives: newsletter

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

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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

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 (5 December 2018)

Background

The below is an email received from Councillor Malcom Grimston regarding water sprinklers received on 5 December 2018.

Email

From: Malcolm Grimston

To: News from Councillor Malcolm Grimston

Sent: ‎Wednesday‎, ‎December‎ ‎5‎, ‎2018‎ ‎11‎:‎32‎:‎15‎ ‎AM‎ ‎GMT

Subject: Sprinkler Update

Dear All,

Inevitably there has been something of a lull in activity after the case management hearing in mid-October for the Tribunal process concerning the sprinklers. Not that anything is any clearer – the Council for example said it will put sprinklers in all its sheltered housing schemes, then discovered that some of them share blocks with standard units. So they were suddenly were faced with either introducing a ‘two-tier’ regime with respect to sheltered housing (which they have told us would be awful if it were applied to our 10+ storey blocks); or just putting sprinklers in the sheltered units in these blocks but not the others (which again they have ruled out on principle with respect to the tower blocks); or imposing sprinklers on the leaseholders and tenants in these blocks even though they are only 3 storeys high (which is against the policy too). In one sense it is frustrating that the Council is stumbling from one error to another, changing the story almost every week – some officers are now saying that ‘no decisions have been taken’ about sprinklers while others are saying ‘nothing has changed’, for example – but it does mean that their overall case to the tribunal is bound to be weakened. Still, as far as I can tell the Council is now saying it will wait until the Grenfell Inquiry report (which could be a very long time in coming, at least with respect to Phase 2 which covers actual causes and recommendations) and of course the Tribunal finding before deciding whether and how to go ahead.

MEETING ON NOVEMBER 4

There was a well-attended meeting in Wandsworth town on November 4. Councillor Claire Gilbert (who is a lawyer and has been extremely valuable to the campaign) makes the following comments. She can be contacted at clairegilbert77@gmail.com.

“The speakers at the meeting included (1) Mark Eaton, the solicitor and Amanda Gourlay, the barrister who represented 11 Leaseholders at the Case Management Hearing on 16th October, (2) a representative of the Leaseholder Advisory organisation LEASE, (3) myself and the Labour speaker on Housing, Councillor Paul White, and (4) West Hill Independent Councillor Malcolm Grimston. The lawyers spoke about their view of the case and explained how they could assist anyone who wanted to join the 11 Leaseholder Group whom they represent. They also took questions from the floor. LEASE explained their services and Councillor Grimston and I spoke about the hearing which took place on 16th October. Anyone who would like to be put in touch with the lawyers mentioned above is welcome to contact me to do so. Equally, I have given details of other expert advisors in this area to residents in Roehampton, so again please let me know if this would be useful to you. However, you do not have to engage any lawyer or representative and the Tribunal must ensure that all Leaseholders are able to participate.” If any of you are prepared to consider chipping in to the next stage of the campaign let me know and I will pass your details on to the organisers.

FIRE RISK ASSESSMENTS

After a suspiciously long wait and a Freedom of Information request I now have the 2016 Fire Risk Assessments for all of the 100 blocks affected. I should be able to send you yours if you have not had it.  

GRENFELL INQUIRY

The BBC is podcasting the proceeding from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry every day it sits – see https://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts?q=Grenfell. It is very thought-provoking and often very distressing to hear the stories of the residents and families of those who survived and those who didn’t.  The first phase of the Inquiry covers what actually happened on the night of the fire and will be laying out its findings next week. Phase 2, next year, will then look at the events which led up to the fire and lessons to be learned. It is therefore unsurprising that sprinklers as such have had very little mention so far. Perhaps the two things that have really jumped out at me as I have listened to the podcasts are just how damaging the Fire Brigade advice on the night was – they were actively turning residents who were fleeing the building back into their flats. That the Commissioner of the LFB, Dany Cotton, said that she would have done nothing different in hindsight has caused enormous distress and anger among those affected, and I do wonder the extent to which LFB can be trusted to set policy when it comes to major fires like this. Secondly, even given the limited remit of Phase 1 the central cause of the fire seems to be emerging loud and clear. The basic fabric of Grenfell Tower, like other social housing blocks from the time or earlier, was very sound – it was the decision to mess about with it that led to the tragedy. In Grenfell’s case the worst aspect of this was wrapping the building in a flammable plastic bag but there was more to it. For example, the standard of workmanship was poor, for example leaving gaps round the windows where fire could enter the space between the aluminium sheets where the flammable material was. One matter that has been mentioned more than one was the drilling of pipework ducts (for new boilers) through the concrete walls which are such an important element of ‘compartmentalisation’, the mechanisms whereby fire is prevented from spreading from one room or flat to another. The pipes often did not fit the holes, leaving a gap through which smoke and fire could pass. Given the quality of the workmanship that we have come to expect from Wandsworth major work projects this is highly worrying – in my view we should do all we can to leave the buildings in their original, extremely safe state rather than threaten their integrity with frankly unproven schemes which experience suggests will not be carried out well but I do not have the technical expertise either to know if that is right or to put it in the most effective way.

GOVERNMENT STATISTICS

I have been corresponding with the fire statistics department of the Home Office about their interpretation of the data in the Hackitt Report. They have confirmed that they took no account of the fact that the safety of 10+ storey blocks pre-Grenfell was improving considerably more rapidly than safety of lower rise residences and that the numbers are so very small (itself of course a cause for celebration) that it is hard to justify any comments such as the black-and-white “the risk in buildings of 10 storeys or more was already larger than the risk in lower buildings prior to Grenfell”. This was not true in the 5 years before Grenfell, as far as I can see. I am still pressing the point.

NEW TRIBUNAL DEADLINES

Again from Claire Gilbert: the Tribunal issued new Directions on 5th November, which you should have received already in hard copy, and which are available via this link: file:///C:/Users/TLA%20-%20CGil/AppData/Local/Packages/Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/Downloads/Tribunal_Directions_5_November_2018%20(1).pdf. In brief, the new directions say the following key things:

  • all respondent leaseholders (i.e. those living in the 100 “tall” blocks) are entitled to take part in the proceedings whether or not they have already returned a reply form to the Tribunal office;
  • leaseholders are encouraged to work together in groups and seek representation but this is not obligatory;
  • by 19th November you should have been sent a hard copy of the following documents:
  1. the directions dated 5th November;
  2. details of the website where all electronic copies can be seen;
  • by 11th December the Council must give the Tribunal a full “statement of its case”, i.e. a better explanation of its position and what it is asking the Tribunal to decide. This must include explaining the reasoning it says should be used by the Tribunal

(a) to decide whether or not there is an obligation or right for the council to carry out the specified works in each flat;

(b) to decide whether or not there is a right of access to each flat for the purpose of undertaking the specified work;

(c) to decide whether or not there is a right to claim a proportion of the cost of the works as a service charge payable by each leaseholder; 

  • the Council’s statement should also give full detail of the decision-making process and decision or decisions by the Council to provide the proposed sprinkler systems;
  • the statement should include details of the matters taken into account by the Council in reaching its decision which has been described as being on a “global” basis and append block by block lists of all long leasehold addresses, the date of the lease for each address and the type/category of lease;
  • by 5th February 2019 the respondents (leaseholders or their representatives) must have made it clear if they intend to take certain steps; i.e.
  1. if they intend to apply to’ strike out’ the Council’s application (i.e. if they think the Tribunal can decide that the Council’s application should not be allowed to go any further because it’s wrong in law) and/or;
  2. if they intend to make a request to transfer the case to the Upper Tribunal (‘Lands Chamber’) – in effect to say that the issues are so important that the Frist Tier Tribunal does not have the powers to deal with them effectively;
  • if the leaseholders’ legal team does not intend to take either of the above steps they must give their statement of case in response to the Council’s case by 19th February 2019.  

Although the emphasis is on leaseholders since the legal proceedings are restricted to them, we have taken every opportunity to point out that the majority of tenants, certainly those who have contacted us, are also against this imposition.

 OTHER COUNCIL TENANTS 

I have been struck by how few of the Council’s tenants who do not live in 10+ storey blocks have had the implications of this scheme explained to them. The Council seems to have made little effort in telling them that over £10 million of the rent money of tenants across the Borough (through the Housing Revenue Account) is going to go on this scheme rather than, say, to deal with the chronic damp and mould problems that are found in so many of our medium-rise blocks.

FINANCE

I am working with leaseholders in one of the estates in my Ward at the moment who, two years after major works were carried out (not particularly well) have suddenly received another very substantial bill for works they were not made aware of. There is a lot of scepticism about the Council’s initial cost guesses, especially as the removal of cladding from Castlemaine and Sudbury House is costing about twice as much as the original estimate.

COMMUNICATIONS

Claire Gilbert explained to the Case Management Hearing how bad communication on the issue has been and asked the Tribunal to note the importance of communicating clearly and regularly with residents on this important case. The Tribunal noted the request and has agreed to establish a Leaseholders Communications Group which will assist the Tribunal in ”seeking to ensure that communications are effective”. It will also liaise with the Council which I am told has agreed to assist in the task of communication. Claire is sitting on the Leaseholders Communications Group and it will met last Friday (30th November) at the Tribunal’s office in Goodge Street. To date the Council has been telling residents that they must look at the WBC website regularly for updates – not good practice even with respect to those who have access to the Internet, which is by no means all residents who will be affected by this scheme. We have been asking for a slot in Homelife or Brightside to keep residents informed of what is (really) going on, or at least for a list of the addresses of leaseholders, but the Council is as always very resistant to allowing anything except its own propaganda to get to affected residents. We hope the Tribunal will help but if you have any ideas please contact me or Claire. By the way, I ma pursuing a formal complaint against the Council implying that a parliamentary lobby group on fire safety (funded in part by the sprinkler industry) was in some way an official Parliamentary body.

Incidentally I wanted to raise the matter of the near-impossibility of getting through to anyone at the Council past the automated switchboard to ask any question that does not neatly fit into the menu you are given. The Conservatives used a procedure known as the ‘guillotine’ to prevent me from doing so but I am going to try again at this evening’s meeting, as whatever happens the ability actually to question the Council if (heaven forbid) this scheme does go ahead is going to be very important.

WHAT NEXT?

I suggest three actions.

First, could you let me have any horror stories about major works not being carried out properly and not being put right? Clearly given the potential damage that drilling through the concrete structure of our blocks could do the quality of the work will be crucial, yet it will presumably be done at a time when the sprinkler industry is under great pressure to get huge numbers of jobs done as quickly as possible.

Secondly, does anyone have the technical expertise to put together some more detailed words on the dangers of drilling through the concrete for the new water pipes etc.? My instinct is that there might be at least two potential problems – the holes themselves, acting as a potential conduit for fire and smoke; and the effect that the vibrations caused by the drilling process affecting a whole block might have on the structural integrity of the whole

Thirdly, any more petitions? Councillor Maurice McLeod and I are putting together a definitive block contact list which should help us to identify where we could be offering support.

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 (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


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