Tag Archives: block

Tories announce new scheme for buildings with ‘Grenfell’ cladding – while taking millions from builders who used it (allegedly)

Inferno: Grenfell Tower went up like a roman candle because it was covered in flammable cladding – killing an official total of 72 people.

The wrongness of this should be evident for all to see.

Firstly there’s the wrong of the new scheme to replace Grenfell-style cladding on tower blocks.

If you live in a block that’s taller than six storeys, your building will get a share of a £3.5 billion government fund to get rid of the flammable death stuff.

If your block is smaller – four to six storeys, then the government will stuff you with a loan, so you have to pay to strip off your own cladding. You get to pay it back at £50 per month, for “many years”.

Okay, they’re “low interest” but they’re also “long term”. Okay, they’re attached to the property – not the occupier – but that just means anybody in an affected block of four-six storeys is hammered with negative equity for – as good as – ever; new buyers would factor the loan into any decision on whether to buy and it is likely to lower prices.

Secondly, there’s the wrong of the £2.5 million allegedly donated to the Conservative Party – the political organisation running the government that has introduced these cladding replacement schemes – by the builders who installed the terminally-flammable cladding in the first place.

That’s right. The Tories stumped up £3.5 billion for one scheme, knowing they’ll tax that money right back*, set up a second scheme that takes cash direct from the people affected – and the people responsible for all the trouble, gave the Tories £2.5 million (allegedly).

*Apparently there’ll be a £200 million a year tax on the property industry to pay for all this – but you know the top bosses will just pass the cost on to clients rather than pay any of it themselves.

That’s great value for money – for the (allegedly) builders!

And that’s especially true when we remember that the firm that sold the cladding used at Grenfell Tower knew about the risk of fires in 2013, but continued to offer a flammable version of it.

And there’s even more wrong!

There was no announcement … for people in buildings of three storeys or less, who it appears could still be hit with eye-watering cladding bills by their freeholders.

There was also no new answer to who will pay for expensive “waking watches” – wardens who patrol buildings to check they are not currently on fire. Mr Jenrick referenced a £30m fund to replace waking watches with fire alarms, that was already open.

We also don’t know when the new support will launch or when we will get more detail about it.

And we don’t know if the £50-a-month loans for people in low-rise blocks will ever be written off. If they’re not, the announcement indicates a flat that faced a £50,000 bill could be paying it off for more than 80 years.

Some have condemned the Tory government’s behaviour as “incompetence” but let’s try to be honest about it, shall we?

If they really did take money, it’s corruption.

Source: Fury at new cladding scheme – how it works and why it ‘betrays’ flat owners – Mirror Online

Tory plan to save tower block residents from cost of fixing unsafe cladding is to charge EVERYBODY

The ruin of Grenfell Tower: thousands of other tower blocks are covered in cladding that is just as flammable, endangering many thousands of people’s lives. Their owners bought it because it was cheap. Now, it seems the same owners will dodge the cost of rectifying their potentially fatal mistake. Why should they?

What spectacular stupidity.

Many thousands of flat owners and tenants are facing huge bills for fire safety work to replace cladding on their buildings, after the Grenfell Tower blaze of nearly four years ago.

Despite the fact that they did not commission the unsafe cladding, residents are likely to have to pay to have it removed and replaced – at huge cost – under current conditions.

The cost is likely to run to billions of pounds.

The Labour Party rightly said that leaseholders and taxpayers should be protected from the cost, and the government should pursue those who were actually responsible for the “cladding crisis”.

Its Commons motion to that effect passed unopposed because the Tories didn’t turn up. We may conclude that Boris Johnson feared another public relations disaster if he opposed it. The result is not binding on the government.

But the last thing the Tories want to do is force businesses to pay for the problems they have caused. They have spent more than three years trying to protect them from that.

So now the plan is to force the taxpayer – everybody in the UK – to pay for the fatal cost-cutting of a few greedy businesses by stumping up government money for the work.

The government has decided to allocate extra funding, possibly running into billions of pounds, to speed up the removal of unsafe cladding.

An announcement is expected within weeks as negotiations between the housing ministry and Treasury are reaching a conclusion.

Something needs to be done, obviously. People have been living in unsafe housing for three and a half years since the Grenfell fire killed so many people – and other fires caused by flammable cladding have happened in the meantime (fortunately with no fatalities).

But we have a government that simply won’t lay blame where it is due.

Instead, these gutless Tories would rather force everybody else to pay the price, even though we never incurred it.

Unjust.

Source: Ministers plan extra cash to remove unsafe cladding – BBC News

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If the Brexit deal is so wonderful, why are Tories like Jacob Rees-Mogg blocking scrutiny of it?

Jacob Rees-Mogg: not only does he look shifty – he’s acting shifty too.

It seems the Tories set up a committee to examine their Brexit trade deal, before it was signed – no doubt in a bid to reassure the nation that we would have a chance to check whether it is any good.

Now we see them reneging on that promise.

Are we to draw the logical conclusion – that is isn’t any good and we really need to examine it, line by line?

The government has been accused of undermining parliamentary scrutiny of Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal after Jacob Rees-Mogg ordered the shutdown of the cross-party committee examining Britain’s relations with the EU.

The move blocks a planned six-month inquiry into the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), grilling key players in televised evidence sessions at parliament before producing an authoritative report assessing the merits and flaws of the deal in rigorous detail.

And it means there is no Commons committee with a specific remit to monitor the implementation of the deal and the activities of the plethora of partnership councils, committees and working groups which it has created.

Committee member Joanna Cherry said the 21-member panel was being disbanded because “the government don’t want to hear the truth” about Mr Johnson’s deal.

Source: Government accused of undermining scrutiny of EU trade deal, as Jacob Rees-Mogg shuts down Commons Brexit committee | The Independent

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MPs from all parties say failure to release Russia report is ‘affront to democracy’

Bosom buddies: Boris Johnson with Russian industrialist Alexander Temerko.

If a week in politics is a long time, how would you describe eight months? An eternity?

That’s the length of time Boris Johnson has been sitting on the report into Russian interference in UK democracy.

He says it cannot be released because the UK’s Intelligence and Security Committee has not been reconvened since it was dissolved for the December 2019 general election and has no members.

But this is a feeble excuse when one realises that the only reason for this is, Boris Johnson nominates everybody on this committee – and he hasn’t bothered to do so.

It is the only committee that Parliament has yet to appoint, and it is extremely unusual for a Parliament to fail to appoint it for six months – one-tenth of its term.

If Johnson wanted, this committee could meet on Monday and the report could be out on Tuesday (June 23).

He simply doesn’t want to – and now a cross-party group of MPs have slammed his inaction as an affront to democracy. They’re absolutely right:

MPs on Tuesday wrote to the UK prime minister to tell him it “is untenable for you to continue to block the publication of the Russia report,” adding that “the situation is an affront to democracy.”

The letter… tells Johnson “your refusal to allow publication of this crucial document raises serious concerns and questions about the transparency and integrity of our democratic process.”

Johnson faces fresh pressure to publish the report after the Electoral Commission last week published new data showing continued financial support for the Conservative party from the wife of a former minister in Vladimir Putin’s Russian government.

The letter to Johnson says this new information highlighted “the party’s deep connections to Russian oligarchs,” and “further questions as to why you are so reluctant to reconstitute the Intelligence and Security Committee.”

Source: Boris Johnson failure to release Russia report an affront to democracy – Business Insider

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Coronavirus: homeless families moved into unsafe buildings. What good will THAT do?

Unsafe: these tower blocks on the Ledbury estate, Southwark, are in danger of fire or collapse – and the council has put 60 homeless families into empty flats there.

What’s the thinking behind this? If the disease doesn’t get them, the building might collapse on them instead?

Southwark Council (Labour-run, God help them) has moved homeless families into an estate of tower blocks that require major works to make them safe from fire or collapse.

The four towers on the Ledbury estate have many empty flats because they are unsafe.

They were built using the ‘large panel system’ construction method, which became notorious after the partial collapse of Ronan Point in Newham in the 1960s.

That’s more than 50 years ago! Why was nothing done about these buildings decades ago?

Families who were living in temporary accommodation with shared bathrooms and kitchens are being moved into 60 empty flats in the towers, to allow them to self-isolate during the coronavirus outbreak.

Southwark reckons it has agreed “extra safety measures” with the fire service in order to ensure the flats are safe to occupy.

What’s the last time we heard of a council making arrangements with a fire service about the safety of a tower block? Ah yes: Grenfell Tower.

What can possibly go wrong?

Source: Inside Housing – News – Homeless families to be moved into blocks with systemic safety issues amid coronavirus crisis

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Is coronavirus panic buying going to block up our drains?

Mrs Mike tells me about an unfortunate side-effect of the coronavirus epidemic, due entirely – it seems – to stupidity.

The panic-buying of toilet roll that has emptied supermarket shelves has, apparently, forced people to use other items, which they are then flushing down the toilet.

These items include kitchen rolls and wet wipes.

Have these people not realised that those items will block up their drains, causing huge problems?

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Paper highlights government-created barriers to work for people with disabilities

Brick wall: Wheelchair-user Abbi Brown may have felt that using public transport was like running up against a similarly-impenetrable barrier.

This is a pleasant surprise.

I had expected an article in The Express about the way people with disabilities are kept out of jobs to be an attempt to pressgang them into inappropriate positions; it isn’t.

Instead, it highlights the problems faced by people who want to work but are hampered by attitudes to their disabilities.

So we read the story of the woman behind the Maltesers “disability” advertising campaign, whose journeys to work took twice as long as anybody else’s because rail operators have failed to make their journeys accessible for people with disabilities.

We learn about the man who struggled to get job interviews until he stopped mentioning that he is almost totally blind.

He works in information technology using adapted software and magnifiers that mean the quality of his work is not affected.

He was even put off attending an interview by one firm’s illegal attitude to his guide dog! While he did take part, after reminding the company representative of their legal obligation, the experience convinced him that he would not want to work there.

Finally, we were told about the man who tried to use the Tory government’s ‘Access to Work’ scheme – only to struggle with asphyxiating bureaucracy and the short deadlines it demands.

These are real problems for people with disabilities who want to get into work, that the Tory government has done its best to ignore.

For example, nine railway operators have had the deadline for making their trains accessible extended after failing to do anything about it. What happens when they break the new deadline? Will it be extended again?

A fat lot of good that will be for people with disabilities.

And what happens to those who are blocked from work through no fault of their own?

They have to claim state benefits – and readers of This Site should know very well how badly the assessment systems are rigged against them.

We end up with a situation in which some of our brightest and best people may be thrown onto the street to curl up and die, simply because they are slightly different from the rest of us.

This is a timely article from the Express.

It reminds us that, while the UK is becoming demonstrably racist amid the controversy over Brexit, there is a terrifying undercurrent of disablism going generally unreported.

Source: How one million disabled people are shut out of employment in the UK | UK | News | Express.co.uk

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Government enacts more of its ‘out of sight, out of mind’ policy on people sleeping rough

Red light for rough sleepers: We are told the ‘night shift’ left their tunnel, which led to Elizabeth Tower, every morning at 6am and tidied up after themselves.

Parliament has installed rolldown shutters on an underpass leading to the Parliamentary estate, preventing a group of rough sleepers from staying there overnight.

The homeless people involved had been meticulous in their behaviour and saw no reason for the draconian move.

But This Writer recalls the fuss after two homeless people died within sight of Parliament last year.

Rather than act to help stop people from becoming homeless, Parliament acted to remove homeless people from the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster.

The policy has become known as “out of sight, out of mind”.

And I think this is part of it.

It doesn’t matter how well-behaved these people are; the fact that they exist is a reminder of the real effect of Conservative government policies in the fifth-richest economy in the world.

A group of rough sleepers who describe themselves as the parliamentary “night shift”, moving into an underpass leading to the parliamentary estate after MPs have left for the day, have been barred from accessing their relatively safe bed space underneath the street.

The group of about 10 rough sleepers formed a distinct community with rules of conduct. They made themselves invisible from MPs and parliamentary workers and visitors during the day and only emerged after 11pm to lay out their cardboard, newspaper and sleeping bags in the exit 3 underpass from Westminster tube station to the parliamentary estate.

None of the group were involved in begging, substance abuse or rowdy behaviour and those who joined had to abide by the group’s informal code of conduct, especially being willing to get up before 6am to vacate their nocturnal space before parliament’s daytime business begins and leaving the tunnel clean and tidy with no newspaper, cardboard or food and drink waste left behind.

Source: Westminster rough sleepers evicted from parliamentary estate | Society | The Guardian

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Lords bid to block ‘no-deal’ Brexit as OBR raises recession fears

An anti-Brexit demonstration outside Parliament on June 12 last year.

The possibility of a Tory prime minister trying to prorogue Parliament – discontinuing it without dissolving it – in order to pass a “no-deal” Brexit has been pushed back by the House of Lords.

Peers voted by a majority of 103 to ensure Parliament will sit in the weeks leading up to the October 31 deadline, making it impossible for Boris Johnson (or, indeed, Jeremy Hunt) to ensure the deadline can pass without MPs interfering.

The vote happened the day before the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) warned that a “no-deal” Brexit could trigger a recession, shrinking the economy by two per cent by 2020.

The organisation said increased uncertainty and falling confidence would deter investment and hit trade.

The decision was an amendment to the Northern Ireland (executive formation) Bill which returns to the Commons today (July 18).

Voting by MPs is likely to be tight.

Supporters of Mr Johnson are saying that concerns over the economy are fear-mongering, and that it is buoyant at the moment.

That may be, but the OBR is saying leaving without a deal would add £30bn a year to borrowing from 2020-21 onwards and 12 per cent of GDP to net debt by 2023-24.

Watch how your MP votes – and take note of the effect on the economy. There will be an election soon, and you should judge your MP on whether they are reckless about your well-being.

Source: House of Lords passes amendment to help prevent no-deal Brexit | Politics | The Guardian

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‘Change UK’ spends fortune on social media ads – but is blocked for violating Twitter rules

This is very amusing from Skwawkbox, and is more proof of the ineptness of the Change UK team. The message is clear: don’t vote for people like this.

Twitter is taking action against CUK over its paid advertising on the platform. In just the past week, two out of its three paid ads have been removed by Twitter for violating its policies.

Twitter has not stated which of these were the issue with the CUK ads.

Twitter is not the only – or apparently even the major – target for CUK’s paid advertising. The outfit is spending a huge amount on Facebook – well over £50,000 just in the last week.

Source: ‘Change UK’ spends fortune on Facebook ads – but blocked for violating Twitter rules | The SKWAWKBOX

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