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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:27 pm 
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Anonymous. wrote:
Anyway my original point was KCTMO had a lot less money to "play with" than they would have originally anticipated so it's not that surprising that attempts were made to cut corners here and there.


Are we sure they used these flammable panels to save money? Was there a more expensive, fire-proof panel rejected by the contractor on cost grounds?
Was this change of panel decision communicated to the housing association?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:29 pm 
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Anonymous. wrote:
Anyway my original point was KCTMO had a lot less money to "play with" than they would have originally anticipated so it's not that surprising that attempts were made to cut corners here and there.



Did they ? You have little proof of this.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:32 pm 
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TheDocForgotHisLogon wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
4 year old video from France. Cladding with the same core :( :(

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yQLIlIetDM

:shock: That goes from a flicker on the second floor or whatever to all 20 stories in one minute.


Nah, the film is stopped at 24sec and 1'15


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:34 pm 
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Sandstorm wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
Anyway my original point was KCTMO had a lot less money to "play with" than they would have originally anticipated so it's not that surprising that attempts were made to cut corners here and there.


Are we sure they used these flammable panels to save money? Was there a more expensive, fire-proof panel rejected by the contractor on cost grounds?
Was this change of panel decision communicated to the housing association?

The residents complained about the work that was being done on Grenfell Tower. I think it wasn't about the cladding but about all sorts of things from the quality of material to the quality of the work itself. Both things that obviously suffer when you cut costs.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:45 pm 
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bimboman wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
Anyway my original point was KCTMO had a lot less money to "play with" than they would have originally anticipated so it's not that surprising that attempts were made to cut corners here and there.



Did they ? You have little proof of this.

Yes bimbo you are quite right. I have no proof whatsover that with £10s of millions cut off their budget they took measures to reduce costs.

Bimbo is a WINNER


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:52 pm 
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Anonymous. wrote:
bimboman wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
Anyway my original point was KCTMO had a lot less money to "play with" than they would have originally anticipated so it's not that surprising that attempts were made to cut corners here and there.



Did they ? You have little proof of this.

Yes bimbo you are quite right. I have no proof whatsover that with £10s of millions cut off their budget they took measures to reduce costs.

Bimbo is a WINNER


Whether they had to reduce costs or not is kind of irrelevant as they still spent £8.6m on the tower block and did nothing to deal with the many safety issues. That was a decision they made regardless of funding. The safety issues should have been dealt with as the priority.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:59 pm 
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theo wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
bimboman wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
Anyway my original point was KCTMO had a lot less money to "play with" than they would have originally anticipated so it's not that surprising that attempts were made to cut corners here and there.



Did they ? You have little proof of this.

Yes bimbo you are quite right. I have no proof whatsover that with £10s of millions cut off their budget they took measures to reduce costs.

Bimbo is a WINNER


Whether they had to reduce costs or not is kind of irrelevant as they still spent £8.6m on the tower block and did nothing to deal with the many safety issues. That was a decision they made regardless of funding. The safety issues should have been dealt with as the priority.

You are right they didn't do their job and although new kitchens and bathrooms were very important (most flat probably still had originals kitchens from 1974) having a single staircase upgrading the fire performance there should have been a major priority, but it's not fair to say they did nothing. If they had not clad the building in a flammable blanket replacing all the residents front doors with self closing fire doors would probably have been enough to contain a fire as has proved to be the case many times in the past.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:03 pm 
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theo wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
bimboman wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
Anyway my original point was KCTMO had a lot less money to "play with" than they would have originally anticipated so it's not that surprising that attempts were made to cut corners here and there.



Did they ? You have little proof of this.

Yes bimbo you are quite right. I have no proof whatsover that with £10s of millions cut off their budget they took measures to reduce costs.

Bimbo is a WINNER


Whether they had to reduce costs or not is kind of irrelevant as they still spent £8.6m on the tower block and did nothing to deal with the many safety issues. That was a decision they made regardless of funding. The safety issues should have been dealt with as the priority.

I'd still like to see a breakdown of the £11.5m salary bill shown in their accounts.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:04 pm 
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Torquemada 1420 wrote:
theo wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
bimboman wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
Anyway my original point was KCTMO had a lot less money to "play with" than they would have originally anticipated so it's not that surprising that attempts were made to cut corners here and there.



Did they ? You have little proof of this.

Yes bimbo you are quite right. I have no proof whatsover that with £10s of millions cut off their budget they took measures to reduce costs.

Bimbo is a WINNER


Whether they had to reduce costs or not is kind of irrelevant as they still spent £8.6m on the tower block and did nothing to deal with the many safety issues. That was a decision they made regardless of funding. The safety issues should have been dealt with as the priority.

I'd still like to see a breakdown of the £11.5m salary bill shown in their accounts.

That's a lot of people....


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:08 pm 
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Anonymous. wrote:
bimboman wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
Anyway my original point was KCTMO had a lot less money to "play with" than they would have originally anticipated so it's not that surprising that attempts were made to cut corners here and there.



Did they ? You have little proof of this.

Yes bimbo you are quite right. I have no proof whatsover that with £10s of millions cut off their budget they took measures to reduce costs.

Bimbo is a WINNER



Stop being silly, it's more about the ludicrous conflations back to central funding and that being directly to blame for the tragedy.

None of this denegrates the losses or suffering. But they'll have been decisions made that we learn from.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:16 pm 
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theo wrote:
Torquemada 1420 wrote:
I'd still like to see a breakdown of the £11.5m salary bill shown in their accounts.

That's a lot of people....

OK. Got it.

y/e 31st March 16
- average no of employees = 218
- total staff costs (incl pension) = £11.5m
- average of £53k per person.......
- £1.3m on agency staff = 10%

Staff split
> 79 in housing
> 88 in technical services whatever TF that is because it seems they contract repair work out to............ Kensington And Chelsea TMO Repairs Direct Limited (nothing like open tender eh?)
> 51 in support services

Looks pretty much like the usual clusterf**k of greed and wastage that is the public sector playing at being the private sector.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:18 pm 
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Torquemada 1420 wrote:
theo wrote:
Torquemada 1420 wrote:
I'd still like to see a breakdown of the £11.5m salary bill shown in their accounts.

That's a lot of people....

OK. Got it.

y/e 31st March 16
- average no of employees = 218
- total staff costs (incl pension) = £11.5m
- average of £53k per person.......
- £1.3m on agency staff = 10%

Staff split
> 79 in housing
> 88 in technical services whatever TF that is because it seems they contract repair work out to............ Kensington And Chelsea TMO Repairs Direct Limited (nothing like open tender eh?)
> 51 in support services

Looks pretty much like the usual clusterf**k of greed and wastage that is the public sector playing at being the private sector.


Yea, that looks questionable. I bet this model is replicated across the country. So much waste.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:22 pm 
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Anonymous. wrote:
Yeah right. Put it this way. K&C were expecting a lot more money to spend on their properties. However as soon as the Conservative government came in they cut the money councils were to receive. So clearly each project had less to spend on it. Including Grenfell Tower.
I appreciate that the Grenfell refurb was a couple of years back but if K&C genuinely felt strapped, you'd have thought they'd increase council tax by the the max 5% this year. They haven't, they've gone for around 2%. Looks like they feel their finances aren't too bad.
And seems to be a third less that the average for England,
Quote:
Local authority, Band D 2017-2018
Kensington & Chelsea 1,078
England excluding parishes 1,563


Last edited by dantedelew on Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:28 pm 
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bimboman wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
bimboman wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
Anyway my original point was KCTMO had a lot less money to "play with" than they would have originally anticipated so it's not that surprising that attempts were made to cut corners here and there.



Did they ? You have little proof of this.

Yes bimbo you are quite right. I have no proof whatsover that with £10s of millions cut off their budget they took measures to reduce costs.

Bimbo is a WINNER



Stop being silly, it's more about the ludicrous conflations back to central funding and that being directly to blame for the tragedy.

None of this denegrates the losses or suffering. But they'll have been decisions made that we learn from.


Agreed. This ill informed political name calling over budget is unedifying and distasteful.

Silver has copped a lot of flack on this thread, but he didn't stoop to these depths.

This is what happens when an example is so badly set by someone in a position of responsibility like corbyn, who entered into the political name calling guessing game on the very day of the disaster. Sadly, his followers do just that.

It's frankly disgusting.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:29 pm 
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And these are the people who should be answering questions:

Board of Directors
Ms Fay Edwards BEM - Chair
Mr Tony Annis - Vice Chair
Ms Mary Benjamin
Ms Anne Duru
Mrs Maria Escudero
Mr Kush Kanodia - Vice Chair
Ms Deborah Price
Mr Brendan Tracey
Councillor Maighread Condon-Simmonds
Councillor Judith (Ed. surname missed in records)
Ms Paula Fance
Mr Jeff Zitron
Mr Simon Brissenden
Mr Peter Chapman
Mr Anthony Preiskel

Senior Management
Mr R Black
Mrs B Matthews FCMA
Ms S Jevans MCIH
Ms Y Birch

Turnover is phenomenal. Something like 110 directors and co secs since the company started. Maybe they all got enough to retire early?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:29 pm 
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dantedelew wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
Yeah right. Put it this way. K&C were expecting a lot more money to spend on their properties. However as soon as the Conservative government came in they cut the money councils were to receive. So clearly each project had less to spend on it. Including Grenfell Tower.
I appreciate that the Grenfell refurb was a couple of years back but if K&C genuinely felt strapped, you'd have thought they'd increase council tax by the the max 5% this year. They haven't, they've gone for around 2%. Looks like they feel their fnnaices aren't too bad.


It's a Tory council. Providing fewer services and cutting costs is part of their mantra. Increasing council tax to replace money that was taken by a Tory government is not something they were likely to do. Any plans to do so would make headlines.


Quote:
Surrey council abandons plan to raise council tax by 15%
7th of Feb


Quote:
Theresa May accused of doing 'sweetheart deal' with Tory Surrey council to stop embarrassing tax rise
8th of Feb

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday Jeremy Corbyn produced leaked texts apparently from the flagship Tory council’s leader to a central government civil servant which suggested a “memorandum of understanding” had been reached to find a “solution”.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/po ... 68831.html


Last edited by Anonymous. on Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:30 pm 
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Torquemada 1420 wrote:
And these are the people who should be answering questions:

Board of Directors
Ms Fay Edwards BEM - Chair
Mr Tony Annis - Vice Chair
Ms Mary Benjamin
Ms Anne Duru
Mrs Maria Escudero
Mr Kush Kanodia - Vice Chair
Ms Deborah Price
Mr Brendan Tracey
Councillor Maighread Condon-Simmonds
Councillor Judith (Ed. surname missed in records)
Ms Paula Fance
Mr Jeff Zitron
Mr Simon Brissenden
Mr Peter Chapman
Mr Anthony Preiskel

Senior Management
Mr R Black
Mrs B Matthews FCMA
Ms S Jevans MCIH
Ms Y Birch

Turnover is phenomenal. Something like 110 directors and co secs since the company started. Maybe they all got enough to retire early?


In fairness some of them may not have been on the Committee/Board when the decisions on the Grenfell refurb were taken.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:36 pm 
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theo wrote:
Torquemada 1420 wrote:
And these are the people who should be answering questions:

Board of Directors
Ms Fay Edwards BEM - Chair
Mr Tony Annis - Vice Chair
Ms Mary Benjamin
Ms Anne Duru
Mrs Maria Escudero
Mr Kush Kanodia - Vice Chair
Ms Deborah Price
Mr Brendan Tracey
Councillor Maighread Condon-Simmonds
Councillor Judith (Ed. surname missed in records)
Ms Paula Fance
Mr Jeff Zitron
Mr Simon Brissenden
Mr Peter Chapman
Mr Anthony Preiskel

Senior Management
Mr R Black
Mrs B Matthews FCMA
Ms S Jevans MCIH
Ms Y Birch

Turnover is phenomenal. Something like 110 directors and co secs since the company started. Maybe they all got enough to retire early?


In fairness some of them may not have been on the Committee/Board when the decisions on the Grenfell refurb were taken.

:lol:


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:37 pm 
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?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:39 pm 
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theo wrote:
In fairness some of them may not have been on the Committee/Board when the decisions on the Grenfell refurb were taken.

These are the acting ones and that decision was quite recent. Anyway, as "in office" board members, I think it's not unreasonable to expect them to know what key projects their business has been involved in recently. Grenfell was their flagship.

More info:

During the year £6.5m of the £10m total investment completed the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower .....although the project was delayed because two sub-contractors went into liquidation. The project has been delivered within budget.

Setting aside the usual procurement f**k ups in failing sub-contractors (how do you fail in an overheated property market....?), getting within budget despite 2 subbies crashing and running past schedule bears some scrutiny too.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:40 pm 
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armchair pundit wrote:
bimboman wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
bimboman wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
Anyway my original point was KCTMO had a lot less money to "play with" than they would have originally anticipated so it's not that surprising that attempts were made to cut corners here and there.



Did they ? You have little proof of this.

Yes bimbo you are quite right. I have no proof whatsover that with £10s of millions cut off their budget they took measures to reduce costs.

Bimbo is a WINNER



Stop being silly, it's more about the ludicrous conflations back to central funding and that being directly to blame for the tragedy.

None of this denegrates the losses or suffering. But they'll have been decisions made that we learn from.


Agreed. This ill informed political name calling over budget is unedifying and distasteful.

Silver has copped a lot of flack on this thread, but he didn't stoop to these depths.

This is what happens when an example is so badly set by someone in a position of responsibility like corbyn, who entered into the political name calling guessing game on the very day of the disaster. Sadly, his followers do just that.

It's frankly disgusting.

I said you can't blame them for cutting corners when their budget was cut. It was cut by £10's of millions I might add. That's political name calling :(


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:45 pm 
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I'm guessing we all hope they get to the bottom of this and lessons that had already been learned from previous fires are acted upon so this sort of thing does not happen again.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:45 pm 
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Torquemada 1420 wrote:
And these are the people who should be answering questions:

Board of Directors
Ms Fay Edwards BEM - Chair
Mr Tony Annis - Vice Chair
Ms Mary Benjamin
Ms Anne Duru
Mrs Maria Escudero
Mr Kush Kanodia - Vice Chair
Ms Deborah Price
Mr Brendan Tracey
Councillor Maighread Condon-Simmonds
Councillor Judith (Ed. surname missed in records)
Ms Paula Fance
Mr Jeff Zitron
Mr Simon Brissenden
Mr Peter Chapman
Mr Anthony Preiskel

Senior Management
Mr R Black
Mrs B Matthews FCMA
Ms S Jevans MCIH
Ms Y Birch

Turnover is phenomenal. Something like 110 directors and co secs since the company started. Maybe they all got enough to retire early?

How does a Board of that size make any decisions at all?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:47 pm 
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Anonymous. wrote:
I'm guessing we all hope they get to the bottom of this and lessons that had already been learned from previous fires are acted upon so this sort of thing does not happen again.

One wonders how many councils up and down the UK are scurrying around trying to get their houses in order whilst trying not to attract attention to the fact that they don't have their houses in order?

I've not kept up on the news on this after day 1 so has there been any comment on the possibility of sublets? Especially illegal because if any existed, some people might simply disappear.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:06 pm 
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Torquemada 1420 wrote:
And these are the people who should be answering questions:

Board of Directors
Ms Fay Edwards BEM - Chair
Mr Tony Annis - Vice Chair
Ms Mary Benjamin
Ms Anne Duru
Mrs Maria Escudero
Mr Kush Kanodia - Vice Chair
Ms Deborah Price
Mr Brendan Tracey
Councillor Maighread Condon-Simmonds
Councillor Judith (Ed. surname missed in records)
Ms Paula Fance
Mr Jeff Zitron
Mr Simon Brissenden
Mr Peter Chapman
Mr Anthony Preiskel

Senior Management
Mr R Black
Mrs B Matthews FCMA
Ms S Jevans MCIH
Ms Y Birch

Turnover is phenomenal. Something like 110 directors and co secs since the company started. Maybe they all got enough to retire early?


I thought they looked after buildings housing almost 10,000 tenants? There's a good chance they would have had quite a lot of building reps/tenants as directors. As any knob knows - director doesn't necessarily equal shareholder or someone who makes any money.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:11 pm 
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fatcat wrote:
Torquemada 1420 wrote:
And these are the people who should be answering questions:

Board of Directors
Ms Fay Edwards BEM - Chair
Mr Tony Annis - Vice Chair
Ms Mary Benjamin
Ms Anne Duru
Mrs Maria Escudero
Mr Kush Kanodia - Vice Chair
Ms Deborah Price
Mr Brendan Tracey
Councillor Maighread Condon-Simmonds
Councillor Judith (Ed. surname missed in records)
Ms Paula Fance
Mr Jeff Zitron
Mr Simon Brissenden
Mr Peter Chapman
Mr Anthony Preiskel

Senior Management
Mr R Black
Mrs B Matthews FCMA
Ms S Jevans MCIH
Ms Y Birch

Turnover is phenomenal. Something like 110 directors and co secs since the company started. Maybe they all got enough to retire early?


I thought they looked after buildings housing almost 10,000 tenants? There's a good chance they would have had quite a lot of building reps/tenants as directors. As any knob knows - director doesn't necessarily equal shareholder or someone who makes any money.


More than half of the board are residents.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:29 pm 
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fatcat wrote:
Torquemada 1420 wrote:
And these are the people who should be answering questions:

Board of Directors
Ms Fay Edwards BEM - Chair
Mr Tony Annis - Vice Chair
Ms Mary Benjamin
Ms Anne Duru
Mrs Maria Escudero
Mr Kush Kanodia - Vice Chair
Ms Deborah Price
Mr Brendan Tracey
Councillor Maighread Condon-Simmonds
Councillor Judith (Ed. surname missed in records)
Ms Paula Fance
Mr Jeff Zitron
Mr Simon Brissenden
Mr Peter Chapman
Mr Anthony Preiskel

Senior Management
Mr R Black
Mrs B Matthews FCMA
Ms S Jevans MCIH
Ms Y Birch

Turnover is phenomenal. Something like 110 directors and co secs since the company started. Maybe they all got enough to retire early?


I thought they looked after buildings housing almost 10,000 tenants? There's a good chance they would have had quite a lot of building reps/tenants as directors. As any knob knows - director doesn't necessarily equal shareholder or someone who makes any money.

6,900 freehold and 2,500 leasehold (the flats) but don't know the tenant numbers. 10k seems light based on those nos.

On latter point: I can't find whether all the directors are paid.

Anyway, the consequence of this is I'll be confident that the majority of turnover is from tenant directors. Possibly in part due to mobility of tenants. But it does mean
- tenant directors is a sham because they are rarely going to be there long enough to grasp the issues and get involved
- which means the rest of the board gets to do what it likes........ and we've seen where that ends up


Last edited by Torquemada 1420 on Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:32 pm 
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Torquemada 1420 wrote:
Anonymous. wrote:
I'm guessing we all hope they get to the bottom of this and lessons that had already been learned from previous fires are acted upon so this sort of thing does not happen again.

One wonders how many councils up and down the UK are scurrying around trying to get their houses in order whilst trying not to attract attention to the fact that they don't have their houses in order?

I've not kept up on the news on this after day 1 so has there been any comment on the possibility of sublets? Especially illegal because if any existed, some people might simply disappear.

Subletting is a huge problem. If for whatever reason you move out of a two bedroom flat in one of these blocks you can rent it out for more than the average weekly take home pay.

Former KCTMO employee

Quote:
There was a drive to let homes to the “most deserving”, principally those in work; and a sense that people on benefits were somehow less deserving. Many felt the council, like all councils, should have been building new homes but instead it was obsessed with the problem of subletting. As the casework grew in size and urgency, we were frequently drawn away from it to go out door-knocking, checking residents’ ID and asking intrusive questions about their incomes and home lives.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... wer-blocks


Councils that do not have that kind of cladding will all have already leafleted their tenants and updated their websites with the information. If a council has made no statement then assume the worst


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:47 pm 
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As someone who works in the construction industry, I am shocked that this could happen.

Even if the Architect/Project Manager f**ked up on the spec,both Main Contractor and sub contractor would have known what they were putting up wasn't fire rated, and, in my experience, both would have looked for very specifically worded letters of comfort to ensure that their arses were well and truly covered. Even pointing out the fire rating at a site meeting would have had both the civil/structural and services engineers doing a bit of digging and privately ringing the Architect to warn him he had f**ked up, followed up in writing if the advice was ignored.
I really don't understand how this could happen in any project with a professional design team.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:15 pm 
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"Jesus Christ"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-4033242 ... -the-blaze


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:20 pm 
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camroc1 wrote:
As someone who works in the construction industry, I am shocked that this could happen.

Even if the Architect/Project Manager f**ked up on the spec,both Main Contractor and sub contractor would have known what they were putting up wasn't fire rated, and, in my experience, both would have looked for very specifically worded letters of comfort to ensure that their arses were well and truly covered. Even pointing out the fire rating at a site meeting would have had both the civil/structural and services engineers doing a bit of digging and privately ringing the Architect to warn him he had f**ked up, followed up in writing if the advice was ignored.
I really don't understand how this could happen in any project with a professional design team.

Apparently they would just feed the crushed razer blades to the children


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:49 pm 
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cft52h89roU&sns=em


Shame on those posters that voted Tory, quite frankly .


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:51 pm 
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Panorama now :(


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:36 pm 
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theo wrote:


You know it's bad when firemen react that way.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:43 pm 
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eugenius wrote:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cft52h89roU&sns=em


Shame on those posters that voted Tory, quite frankly .



Oh dear.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:02 pm 
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It is all very well to blame budget cuts for the fire, They would of made a bad situation worse,

But it seems, the issue was caused by spending 8.5 million sticking what in effect firelighters to the outside of the building and removing fire doors from inside the building..


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:11 pm 
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Darling think of the real estate prices !

Those buildings were bloody ugly , it was millions well spent .


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:20 pm 
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In 2010, I spent six months working on a BBC investigation into concerns about fire safety in refurbished high rises. Our findings were conclusive. Fire chiefs and safety experts all agreed that the vogue for cladding old concrete blocks with plastic fascia, removing asbestos and replacing steel window frames with ones made of UPvC cancelled out all the fire prevention measures that had been built into the blocks.

In their original form, tower blocks are stacks of concrete boxes, insulated from each other. If a fire breaks out in one flat, it will be contained so long as the fire doors remain closed – that is why the advice for other residents is to stay put in their flats and place wet towels under the doors to stop the smoke.

By the turn of the millennium, the post-war tower blocks that are scattered through Britain’s cities had become rundown and ugly. So in 2000, Tony Blair’s government launched the Decent Homes Programme, a huge scheme to update the social housing stock, making it more environmentally friendly, comfortable and pleasing to the eye. For high-rises there were two options – either refurbish them, or pull them down and build new low-rise housing in their place. The slightly cheaper option was to do them up.

Billions of pounds of public funds were handed out to contractors to carry out the upgrades – £820 million in London alone. In almost all cases, the drab concrete was wrapped in brightly coloured plastic. It may look far nicer, but the material used in most cases is also highly flammable, while the tiny space between the façade and the concrete acts as a chimney in the event of a fire, sucking the flames up the building in seconds. Grenfell Tower had been clad in those plastic fascia during its revamp last year – it is looking increasingly likely that that is the reason why the fire engulfed it within fifteen minutes.

These safety flaws were not a secret. The government knew about them. Local authorities knew. Contractors knew – the tip-off that sparked our investigation came from someone working on a tower block refurb in the West Midlands. A previous blaze in 2009 that killed six people in the Lakanal House block in Camberwell, southeast London, spread because fire regulations had been breached. It now turns out that the government had produced and then sat on a report recommending that building regulations be changed in the wake of that fire.

In 2010, we took our findings to the Birmingham councillor in charge of the tower block refurbishments. He was so clueless about the project in his charge that he didn’t even know how many high-rises were being revamped in the city. When we revealed this in our report, he threatened to sue us.

There seems to be little reason for the government’s inaction other than a desire to save money and a head-in-the-sand hope that disaster would never strike. ‘I don’t feel vindicated, I feel angry’, said my colleague, who I worked on the investigation with. ‘There is a price to pay for cost-cutting and austerity’.

Is it just coincidence that the people who usually live in these blocks are the poorest, often most isolated people in our society, the ones least able to raise a fuss and force change? This morning I opened Facebook to see a post from a Syrian friend – a picture of a smiling young man. Mohammed Alhaj Ali, 23, escaped from the hellhole of the Syrian civil war three years ago. He thought he had found refuge in London, in Grenfell Tower.

‘There were so many refugees in that tower, I think the majority were refugees and migrants’, my friend said, distraught. ‘As Syrians we are used to dying. But we never thought we would be dying in London’.

Hannah Lucinda Smith is Istanbul correspondent with The Times. From 2009 to 2011 she was an investigative journalist at BBC West Midlands, where she worked on a report about fire safety in high rises


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:27 pm 
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eugenius wrote:
Darling think of the real estate prices !

Those buildings were bloody ugly , it was millions well spent .

The buildings were not clad to improve the appearance. Decent homes legislation meant the thermal efficiency had to be improved. Cladding them was the obvious answer.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:29 pm 
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c69 wrote:
Panorama now :(

Anything to the headlines on the BBC website or lots of conjecture and anomalies?


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