Tag Archives: flammable

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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Files on #GrenfellTower cladding ‘lost forever’ after deletion from laptop. How convenient!

Up in smoke: Grenfell Tower after the fire that killed 72 residents. Emails and documents on the refurbishment that put flammable cladding on the building has been found to have been destroyed.

Emails, documents and design drawings relating to the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower that put highly flammable cladding on its walls have been lost forever after being deleted from a laptop, the inquiry into the 2017 disaster has learned.

Design manager Daniel Anketell-Jones, who worked for cladding specialists Harley Facades until March 2016, told the hearing he erased his work computer of all files after agreeing to keep the device despite leaving the firm.

Harley managing director Ray Bailey said… “Daniel Anketell-Jones… left Harley some months before the fire.

“By that stage he had both deleted all of his Harley related emails from his laptop and had arranged with our service provider to remove his email file from our systems.”

Asked about this by inquiry lawyer Kate Grange QC, Mr Anketell-Jones said: “I don’t know what he means by that.

“I didn’t arrange for that to happen. I don’t think I would have the authority or the security to do that.”

How convenient for this firm – directly involved in the refurbishment that turned Grenfell Tower into a tinderbox – that this documentation has similarly gone up in smoke.

Email dialogues that are now lost could have cast light on whether designers were aware that the cladding was a danger to the lives of everybody living behind it (72 of those lives were lost in the blaze).

The deletion may have been entirely innocent – but it looks deeply suspicious.

And it creates another obstacle for the inquiry, that is trying to determine where ultimate responsibility for the deaths lies.

Source: Grenfell files ‘lost forever’ after laptop wiped, inquiry hears | London | ITV News

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United Nations warns UK could be breaking international law over cladding

The cladding at Grenfell Tower explained: The materials used were flammable – not flame-resistant.

What do you think the Conservative government will do about this, considering it is now three years since the Grenfell disaster and the Tories haven’t lifted a finger to replace flammable cladding on thousands of other tower blocks?

This Writer is willing to bet we’ll hear a load of flannel about the UN not doing its job properly – or misinterpreting its role in some way, and some minister – probably Robert Jenrick – will make some sabre-rattling suggestion that it should keep its foreign nose out.

You know how it would be – like the Tories did when the UN accused this country of institutional abuse of people with disabilities.

The last thing the Tories want to do is spend money on poor people who are living in firetraps.

The UN has warned Britain that its failure to strip combustible cladding from high-rise buildings containing tens of thousands homes may be a breach of international law.

The global body is demanding answers about the UK government’s delayed programme to fix hundreds of blocks wrapped in flammable panels and with other fire safety problems.

Leilani Farha, the UN’s special rapporteur on adequate housing, wrote to the government to express “serious concern about allegations of multiple violations of the human right to adequate housing, of which safety is a key component – contrary to international human rights law”.

Source: UK could be breaking international law over cladding, says UN | Society | The Guardian

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Grenfell: Meaningless announcement on tower-block cladding won’t help residents – or the Tories

This is what happens when you encase a residential tower block in flammable cladding and then allow someone to set it alight.

After more than a year of reluctance, the Conservatives have decided to make it illegal to put flammable cladding on tower blocks – in a move transparently timed to make them look good during their party conference. There’s just one problem.

The government has no legal power to force change on existing structures, meaning this will only apply to new buildings – so it won’t change anything for the thousands of people living in towers like Grenfell who have been living in fear ever since that block turned into an inferno on June 14, 2017.

So James Brokenshire’s claim to be preventing another “unimaginable horror” like Grenfell is just a lot of hot air.

Don’t get me wrong; the change is good, as far as it goes – but it doesn’t go far enough. Why doesn’t the government have power to force change on existing structures, in the name of safety? And it is reasonable to ask why there wasn’t always a ban on flammable cladding around residential blocks.

Here‘s the story, as reported by The Independent:

“Flammable cladding will be banned on high rise buildings in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

“Housing Secretary James Brokenshire will vow to have building rules changed to prevent another “unimaginable horror” like the 2017 tragedy.

“The new regulation regime will apply to flat blocks over 18-metres tall, as well as care homes, schools and hospitals, and is set to come into force in late autumn.

“But the ban will only apply to new buildings – as the Government has no legal powers to force change on existing structures.”

So not only is Craig Murray right in what he says below…

… he doesn’t go far enough.

It is because their announcement is useless for any current tower block resident that this Tory attempt at news management has reached an entirely new level of disgusting.

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The ugly politics of the Grenfell Tower fire

Grenfell Tower in flames, early morning of June 14, 2017.

People have died in an entirely preventable fire that engulfed a 24-storey tower block in west London, after landlords clad it in flammable material and council chiefs, together with MPs, failed to review safety.

Not only that, but is it significant that Grenfell Tower, in Notting Hill, is in the Kensington Parliamentary constituency that was taken by Labour in last Thursday’s election? I wonder.

The fire began on the tower block’s second storey and spread rapidly through the building, which reportedly had only one exit. People did manage to escape, but many were either trapped or jumped out of their windows to escape the flames.

Firefighters arrived at the scene within six minutes of being called but were unable to reach the higher parts of the building where flames had already taken hold.

Members of the local Conservative-held Kensington and Chelsea Council, their officers, and government ministers all knew that the tower block was a danger to life – but did nothing about it.

Already concern has been raised that these public representatives were too keen to bury complaints – because they would have required expensive remedial action by landlords, both here and in 4,000 other blocks around the UK?

Here’s David Collins of the residents’ association:

According to the Evening Standard:

Residents had warned that the building – which has around 120 flats reportedly served by a single main entrance – was a fire hazard last year when rubbish piled up in a communal walkway.

The Grenfell Action Group raised their concerns in a blog post last January, saying: “The potential for a fire to break out in the communal area on the walkway does not bear thinking about as residents would be trapped in the building with no way out.”

It was given a £10 million refurbishment a year ago, with the installation of insulated exterior cladding, double-glazed windows and a communal heating system.

But it seems the cladding was, in fact, flammable. Here’s The Guardian:

Another man who fled from the 17th floor said he was alerted to the danger by the arrival of fire engines.

The man said he only saw fire when he stuck his head out of the window.

“I went back inside the house, looked out the window. I started looking down the window – I had to really pull myself out to look down the window, from the 17th floor, and I see the fire blazing, and coming up really fast, because of the cladding – the cladding was really flammable, and it just caught up like a matchstick.”

Here he is. See for yourself:

Some of us have already drawn the logical conclusion. Here’s journalist and broadcaster Sonia Poulton, on Facebook:

The Grenfell Tower fire is ‘unprecedented’ in scale according to a London fireman with almost 30 years experience.

“We have been shouting on social media for years about how unsafe it is,” say the action group who tried to get real support from the local council, Kensington and Chelsea.

I don’t need to tell many of my friends on here that it was going to inevitably end in catastrophe. And it did last night.

Huge fire. People dead. People in hospital. People changed for life.

That tower block is in one of the wealthiest areas in the UK and, in these increasingly gentrified times, it would’ve been earmarked for ‘development’ – almost certainly by private landlords – years ago.

Councils around the UK – cash-starved by Government – are, in turn, cash-starving local services, including social housing, and mostly until they fall apart. – In one way or another.

Here is the unpalatable truth: those casualties – mums, dads, baby bear, pets, etc. – are cheap to those who are running our public services. Truly, they are collateral damage. There is no sugar coating this. The wealth divide has never been bigger. Enough is enough.

My thoughts are with all those who lost their lives and with those who are detrimentally impacted by this inferno. Thank you our fire service, also cash starved, you are the salt of the earth.

It seems the concerns of Grenfell Tower residents were buried by a committee of Kensington and Chelsea Council that consists of eight Conservative members and two from the Labour Party:

https://twitter.com/Wirral_In_It/status/874910417386188804

Former London Mayor Boris Johnson (Conservative) spent his term buying pointless water cannons and cutting vital fire engines:

The de-funding of the Fire and Rescue Service has already been blamed for fire crews’ inability to reach the 27th floor of the building.

And Theresa May’s new chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, was the last in a string of Tory housing ministers who did nothing at all – for four years – about a report warning that high-rise blocks like Grenfell Tower were vulnerable to fire.

According to the Mirror:

Gavin Barwell, who was housing minister until losing his seat in last week’s election, promised to review part B of the Building Regulations 2010, which relate to fire safety, but the review never materialised.

A coroner’s investigation into the blaze at Lakanal House in South London in 2009, which claimed six lives, found panels on the exterior of the block had not provided the required fire resistance and insufficient fire risk assessments had been made.

The coroner made a series of recommendation following the tragedy, but while some have been taken up, a full review of building regulations has yet to take place.

Ronnie King, honorary administrative secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fire Safety and Rescue and a former Chief Fire Officer, told LBC Radio this morning they had “strongly recommended” installing fire suppression systems and sprinklers in 4,000 similar tower blocks across the country.

He said: “We were strongly recommending this because the fire at Lakanal House spread within four minutes and came into the flat above and then went on to kill six people, regrettably.”

Mr King said it was likely similar failings existed in West London’s Grenfell House.

Well, we know there was no communal sprinkler system, thanks to the testimony of the unnamed escaped resident (above).

We may conclude that the Grenfell Tower fire was a tragedy waiting to happen, in which everybody responsible for ensuring the safety of residents failed in that duty.

But there is the even worse aspect of this – that it might have been politically expedient for this to happen now that the Kensington constituency has a Labour MP. After all, what better way to smear a people’s representative than to present them as someone who cannot protect the people?

I know. It’s just a thought – but a disturbing one.

Remember the words of Ms Poulton, above: ” Those casualties… are cheap to those who are running our public services.

“Truly, they are collateral damage.”

https://twitter.com/JinxMinx82/status/874902562369044480

ADDITIONAL: I’m told officials have now stated that six people have died.

And it seems Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tried to pass a law to make homes safe – last year – and the Conservatives rejected it.

 

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