TOWER BLOCK SAFETY FEARS

Lib Dem campaigner Bob Sullivan

Following the disaster in West London, former long-serving Liberal Democrat Councillor Bob Sullivan contacted the Council to confirm that they are preparing to look the tower and high rise blocks in Waltham Forest and review the planning permissions already given to developers.

This review should include checking the cladding, fascias and building materials used and planned to be used.

It would seem from discussions in the media that many tower blocks built, and being built, may have cladding and other materials that are not completely fire proof.

Waltham Forest Guardian reporter Tom Barnes followed up Bob Sullivan’s request with the following report on the online version of the Guardian:

TOWER BLOCK FEARS: Waltham Forest council won’t tell us if its flats have sprinklers after Grenfell Tower fire

Concerns have been raised over the safety of Waltham Forest’s high-rise buildings in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Campaigner Bob Sullivan is calling for a full review into fire safety at tower blocks in the borough after the blaze in west London last week, which is thought to have killed at least 79 people.

The Liberal Democrat activist and former councillor wants a probe to ensure residents in council-owned and private blocks are not as risk, as well as reviews at towers currently under construction.

Mr Sullivan said:

It is imperative that the planning permission for new blocks being built is gone over again, we need to make sure.

I have not seen anyone mention sprinklers, you would have thought it would be 100 per cent certain we should have them now.

I would have thought nobody would move into any tower block now without asking questions, I certainly wouldn’t.

I am hoping the council decides to review tower block safety, I am very concerned about Waltham Forest and we should be on the forefront of this.

We need action to do something about every block above six or eight storeys, I would even class those types of buildings as a small tower blocks.

Although several council-owned towers, such as Redwood and Hornbeam Towers in Leytonstone, have been demolished in recent years, some, like John Walsh and Fred Wigg Towers, remain standing.

A host of plans for new high-rise blocks have also been approved, including a 16-storey block in Dunedin Road, Leyton, and four blocks between 10 and 16 flights in Wickford Way, Walthamstow.

Campaigner Bob Sullivan wants action to ensure tower block safety

The catastrophic fire at 24-storey Grenfell Tower, in North Kensington, broke out at around 1am last Wednesday (June 14) and is likely to become Britain’s deadliest blaze in more than a century.

The speed at which the fire spread is believed to have aided by new cladding fitted to the building, while sprinklers had not been fitted inside the flats, despite calls from residents.

Waltham Forest council says no blocks in the borough use the same cladding as was installed at Grenfell and all high rise homes either have fire risk assessments in place or currently underway.

The local authority also confirmed sprinklers will be installed at the 10-storey Lea Bridge House hostel redevelopment in Leyton.

However, the council has not responded to requests by the Guardian to reveal how many of its blocks are fitted with sprinkler systems.

Council leader, Clare Coghill, said:

All of us were horrified to see the tragic events unfold at Grenfell Tower. Our thoughts and sympathies are with those affected by this terrible disaster. 

We understand that residents of Waltham Forest will be shocked following this incident, and concerned about the safety of their own homes and properties.

We want to let residents know that their safety is always our main concern.

We are looking at what further checks may be needed in the light of recent events.

We will work with the fire brigade and our colleagues across London to implement any changes recommended after this terrible fire.

 

Tom Barnes posted an update on 22nd June:

Waltham Forest council confirms no sprinkler systems have been fitted in any of its tower blocks

Fred Wigg and John Walsh Towers

John Walsh and Fred Wigg Towers in Leytonstone are owned by Waltham Forest council

No council-owned tower blocks in Waltham Forest are currently fitted with sprinkler systems, it has been confirmed.

Concerns have been raised over safety at high-rise blocks in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in Kensington last week, which is now thought to have killed at least 79 people.

The speed at which the fire spread is believed to have aided by new cladding fitted to the building, while sprinklers had not been fitted inside the flats, despite calls from residents.

Do you live in one of the council blocks? Get in touch by e-mailing thomas.barnes@london.newsquest.co.uk or call 07795507440

Waltham Forest council has now confirmed to the Guardian none of its blocks are currently fitted with sprinkler systems.

However, the local authority said it planned to fit sprinklers in three towers used for sheltered accommodation.

A spokesman said:

Although none of our council blocks have sprinklers fitted, we have secured funding from the London Fire Brigade to install sprinklers in three sheltered blocks this year.

Although several council-owned towers, such as Redwood and Hornbeam Towers in Leytonstone, have been demolished in recent years, some, like John Walsh and Fred Wigg Towers, remain standing.

A host of plans for new high-rise blocks have also been approved, including a 16-storey block in Dunedin Road, Leyton, and four blocks between 10 and 16 flights in Wickford Way, Walthamstow.

The catastrophic fire at 24-storey Grenfell Tower is likely to become Britain’s deadliest blaze in more than a century

WILL WALTHAM FOREST TENANTS GET A REFUND OF THE WATER CHARGE?

In March of this year Southwark Council lost a High Court case on water charges which could affect councils all over London including Waltham Forest.  Councils collect payment for water and sewerage services from tenants on behalf of Thames Water and in return the councils receive a commission fee.

The High Court found Southwark Council should have passed on any savings to tenants, as they were technically reselling water services. Southwark has already announced that they have “decided not to appeal the decision,” and are refunding current and past tenants up to £700.

Waltham Forest should do the same.

Waltham Forest Council say they accept that establishing the legality of a practice is a matter for the Courts. Yet instead of refunding people straight away, they are still ganging up with other councils to hire “an external firm and a barrister” to give them legal advice on what to do.

The local Liberal Democrats believe that Waltham Forest Council should follow Southwark’s example and refund their tenants without further delay.

 

HOW HIGH CAN WE ALLOW DEVELOPERS TO BUILD?

Focus has previously reported on the massive high rise flat developments in Waltham Forest.

Forest Ward Focus Team members were with residents at the Planning Committee when the Council agreed the over development of buildings, of up to 18 storeys, in Lea Bridge Road.

Only recently Leyton Focus Team member Bob Sullivan and residents spoke against the 16 storey block at the end of Dunedin Road.

It appears that developers are having a field day as the Council continually agree the building of unaffordable multi high rise flats in the borough.

The latest plan submitted by the owners of the Mall shopping centre in Walthamstow is to build four blocks including one of 27 storeys!  Currently local residents have presented a 2,000 plus petition to the Council in protest against the plans. If you would like to support the local residents then contact ‘Save Walthamstow Town Centre’ on line: SAVE OUR TOWN CENTRE

Focus says:  In our experience the Labour Council never listens to residents and carries on agreeing the over development of every bit of land for multi high rise unaffordable flats.

OLYMPIC PARK – PLANNING APPLICATIONS UPDATE

This is an update on the Olympic Legacy item

In one month exactly the committee in charge of reviewing the Concrete Batching applications is scheduled to convene and make its decision, which is likely to affect tens of thousands of East London residents.

The plans have generated a massive and highly justified public uproar: nearly 10,000 citizens have signed this petition, and Objection Letters are pouring in to the LLDC website from developers, borough representatives and members of the public alike.

OPCRD has also submitted this week their own *OFFICIAL* Objection Document – in the name of everyone affected and everyone that have signed this petition. It is a 40-page long review of all of the projects’ momentous documentation. The objection document summarizes and pinpoints all the many procedural improprieties, data omissions, implausible assumptions and shabby ‘survey’ work that was handed in to the LLDC by the applicants.

Read OPCRD’s objection, and see for yourself just what a mockery the applicants have made of the application process: https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/opcrd/objection.pdf

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (who’s office has informed us that he “doesn’t have the authority to get involved”), was elected on a wave of big promises about ‘Clean air for Londoners’, and the need to clean and strengthen the weaker boroughs, more affected by pollution than other. So we thought he might want to see this video, shot 27 August afternoon – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlSdvBm7MKk (also at www.opcrd.org)

This is not a massive fire or the aftermath of an explosion – it’s simply a gigantic dust cloud spreading across Newham, carrying huge amounts of harmful particulate matter (PM. This concrete batching plant in this video is located less than 50 meters from where the additional 3 (!!!) are planned to be located…

Now is NOT a time to become complacent about this – share, engage and support, or these plans WILL become reality in exactly 1 month!

 

PROTECT SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH POST BREXIT

PROTECT SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH PETITION

Finding a cure to cancer. Saving the planet from climate change. Sending Tim Peake to space. All of these depend on European funding and co-operation.

But Brexit will seriously endanger cross-European science co-operation – a disaster for British science, and a disaster for so many of the projects that will bring us a better future.

Sign the petition ▶

The Liberal Democrats are fighting back with a petition to save our science research from the blow of Brexit, by campaigning for guarantees to continued European funding and co-operation.

But, we don’t have long to get as many signatures as possible before our scientists take our petition to David Davis.

Sign the petition ▶

If we succeed, British scientists will stay at the front of international spaceflight, combating climate change and curing cancer.

OLYMPIC PARK – SO MUCH FOR LEGACY!!

Last year a planning application was submitted for the creation of London’s largest concrete and asphalt factory – right at the centre of the Olympic Park, and in the middle of a dense residential area.

This development would have a dramatic impact on the local area and residents, creating 3 concrete batching plants and an Asphalt production plant adjacent to a heavily used green space.

The proposed plants, which will be next door to London Athletics and the new UCL East campus, are to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with an estimated 900 heavy vehicles coming and going daily.

This will create an industrial blight on the area by introducing significant air, dust and noise pollution to what is otherwise a fast regenerating part of the city.

The planning applications have been submitted as four (4) wholly independent operations, without consideration given to their cumulative effects on an area now defined by new residential communities, pedestrian and cycling routes, recreational zones and athletics venues. There is a serious risk that hazardous chemical dust from concrete and asphalt manufacturing activities and associated vehicle fumes will raise air pollution to dangerous levels, resulting in asthma and other respiratory issues for the populations of Newham, Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

The full applications can be found on LLDC’s planning website at http://planningregister.londonlegacy.co.uk/swift/apas/run/wphappcriteria.display : PA Refs: 15/00368/FUL / 15/00400/FUL / 15/00414/FUL / 16/00194/SCRES].

The proposal is scheduled for review before the London Legacy Development Corporation’s (LLDC) planning committee as early as September 27th 2016. The LLDC was given special powers and a remit directly from the Mayor’s office to manage the Olympic Park area regeneration beyond 2012.

The LLDC is not directly accountable to local residents in the same way that the councils of Newham, Tower Hamlets or Hackney are. Consequently, the decision making of the LLDC will not always be in the interests of local residents. And it is the LLDC alone that has the final decision on whether this concrete batching development goes ahead.

The proposal of the concrete works is completely incompatible with the Mayor’s office ‘Clean Air for London Policy‘ or the current direction of residential and other developments planned for the area.

In order to protect the integrity and future development of the community, it is of paramount importance that a concerted effort be made by local residents and businesses to oppose this planning proposal NOW.

Please sign the petition today.

RESIDENTS PROTESTS IGNORED

Residents gathered outside the Town Hall to protest about road closures in the ‘Mini Holland’ scheme

Residents protest ignored!

The recent protest by over 1,200 residents against the road closures in Walthamstow and Leyton showed that the Council’s Mini Holland plans, including closing local roads, does not have the support of all residents despite the Council saying that they had.

Protesters not against the scheme or cyclists, but against road closures
The protesters went out of their way to say that they were not against the scheme or cyclists, but against the road closures. The Council’s plans have succeeded in causing division and anger across the Borough. The closing of roads has forced vehicles onto the already congested main roads like Lea Bridge, Hoe Street, and Leyton High Road and has resulted in a massive slow down of traffic, increased congestion and increased pollution.

Congestion and pollution bad for all
All of this is detrimental to residents, cyclists, pedestrians and bus users. Focus Team member Bob Sullivan, who was in the Town Hall listening to the Mini Holland debate, was appalled by the Labour Council restricting residents from hearing the debate, as they only allowed 12 protesters in, although the chamber can hold over a hundred. He was shocked by the arrogant, illiberal attitude with which Labour Councillors treated residents’ concerns. They were not prepared to review the Mini Holland plans despite residents’ requests and their own Labour MP’s request.

Council continues to ignore residents
They are, in fact, going to ignore residents and continue to put in similar divisive plans across Leyton, Leytonstone and Chingford!

PADDY POWER WINS APPEAL

Paddy Power appeal victory paves way for sixth bookies in high street despite public outcry

7:00am Thursday 23rd April 2015 – Waltham Forest E-Guardian

Paddy Power has won the right to open a sixth betting shop in a high street despite public opposition.

The company was successful in appealing against a decision by Waltham Forest council’s planning committee to deny a change of use at 620 High Road, Leytonstone.

Paddy Power was granted a premises licence in October despite more than 1,200 people signing a petition against the move.

Yesterday, a planning inspector, appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities, ruled in the betting giants favour in a move a council spokesman described as “another example of an inspector not supporting local concerns regarding the clustering of betting shops.”

The betting shop will operate under the condition that it will not be open to customers after 10pm on any day of the week and CCTV is installed to deter criminal activity.

The inspector approved the application despite it adding an ‘obvious’ third betting shop to the immediate vicinity.

Following the closure of Leytonstone police station, the inspector also heard local concerns that the police presence in the area had been reduced, but said “The Metropolitan Police’s crime prevention officer did not raise this as a concern when consulted.”

The inspector continued:

I do not consider that an additional betting office within the immediate area would result in a significant alteration to the balance [of being a retail-led high street], or result in a clustering effect that would be detrimental to the retail attraction of the immediate area or wider centre.

The appellant operates a chain of betting offices, and although the use would not make a large contribution to local regeneration or have a significantly positive effect in tackling social deprivation, its corporate responsibility policies are clear and links with the local community are encouraged.

The FOCUS Team says:

Local people will be wondering what is the point of the Council spending time and resources securing changes to planning regulations, if they are going to be over-ruled by inspectors who choose to ignore local opinion.

POOL AND TRACK PETITION UPDATE

Multi-million pound plans to demolish and re-build a ‘state of the art’ sports centre have been axed from the council’s agenda for next week.

Campaigners, parents and budding sports stars had been preparing to protest at the town hall in Walthamstow, on Tuesday, as plans for the Chingford Road Pool and Track were to be debated for a second time.

A petition which has been signed by over 1,500 people was started two weeks ago, calling on the council to consult local people.

The plans, the second ones to reach the planning committee, have been slammed as the new centre will not include a 5m diving board, dive pit and will alter facilities for disabled people.

Waltham Forest council’s contractor, GLL Ltd, said the board is too expensive but are putting spa facilities and a BMX area in the plans.

In September the first plans were rejected over the proposed loss of amenity for local residents.

Today, it was revealed that the meeting has been deferred until March, where the will be a dedicated meeting over the facility.

In a letter to campaigner Ian Capes, a council officer wrote:

Due to the amount of interest in the plans it is important that we can accommodate as many members of the public as possible who wish to attend the meeting and play their part in the decision making process.

The decision comes on the same day the chairman of the planning committee was suspended from the Labour group over a Facebook rant over the words of the Prophet Mohammed.

The petition can be seen here:

https://www.change.org/p/london-borough-of-waltham-forest-lbwf-greenwich-leisure-limited-gll-aka-better-withdraw-planning-application-2014-2399-23m-pool-track-rebuild-and-consult-with-all-local-user-groups-about-the-design-specification

LONDON ASSEMBLY LIB DEM PROPOSALS

Improving London’s environment for everyone, building more homes, and making fares much fairer

Improstephen_vince_small.jpgving London’s environment for everyone, building more homes and making fares much fairer are at the centre of a radical set of proposals put forward by the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group in their amendment to the Mayor’s budget.

Speaking ahead of today’s meeting at City Hall where the London Assembly will consider the Mayor’s draft budget Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group said:

There are real social and environmental pressures facing London as our population rapidly grows. Our proposals are firmly rooted in meeting these challenges.

Our Lib Dem plan will deliver cleaner air and less congested roads. It will deliver a better environment for every Londoner.

Our changes to the Mayor’s budget will also provide more affordable homes, helping to address London’s chronic shortage of homes for people on low and middle incomes, helping to keep families living in the capital.

We will also make London a fairer city. We would reverse the Mayor’s harsh fare hike facing off peak travellers who live in outer London. And in every part of the capital we will drive up the adoption of the London Living Wage and ensure real action is taken against rogue landlords.

Key aspects of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly budget amendment include:

  • Tackling London’s appalling air pollution and also reducing congestion on our roads, which is currently a huge burden for London’s businesses. Specific proposals include smart congestion charging; the introduction of a workplace parking levy in central London and real action to reduce diesel vehicles entering central London.
  • Reversing the immense fare hike on off peak travel for people in outer London. Other key fare changes include the introduction of a one hour bus ticket and lower fares for people travelling on all Tube, DLR and TfL Overground services before 7.30 am.
  • Making London a more attractive city to travel around by foot and on bike, including expanding the cycle hire scheme into south east London and better provision for cyclists across the whole capital
  • Creating a new £2 billion housing investment fund – funded by prudential borrowing – more than doubling the number of affordable homes delivered across London
  • Cutting waste in the Metropolitan Police Service such as the provision of chauffeur driven cars and flats for senior police officers, but strengthening Safer Neighbourhood Teams and putting extra resources into the teams that investigate rape and sexual assault against children.
  • Making London a fairer place through real action against rogue landlords and the wider adoption of the London Living Wage.