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.

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.

HAINAULT ROAD – HIGHWAY REPAIRS

Damaged section of Hainaulot Road

near the junction with Leigh Road

On 24 December the FOCUS Team reported this doubtful stretch of the higway in Hainault Road near the junction with Leigh Road.

The Team has stressed the volume of heavy traffic using this stretch of Hainault Road and certain of the residential roads in contravention of the road signs.

They have continued to monitor progress and have finally been informed that it should be repaired within the next four weeks.

So far, some tarmac had been laid, but FOCUS is continuing to urge a full repair, and will continuer to watch for any further action.

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

PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN

The Lib Dems have had a massive response to our petition to get all our elected councillors to have a CRB check (now called a Disclosure and Barring Service – DBS).

Councillors are Corporate Parents to all our children in care and DBS checks should be for all not just a few.

John Howard says: If you want to click here to sign the petition. You may also see the team in the High Street collecting more signatures.

PLANNING NEWS – 620 High Road Leytonstone

620 High Road Leytonstone – site of planned Paddy Power betting shop

Council rejects Paddy Power’s planning application for change of use.

This week the council’s Planning Officers, under new regulations, refused the Paddy Power application for change oof use to class A2 (betting Office) for the premises at 620 High Road Leytonstone.

The reasons for refusal included:

  • The proposal would result in the clustering of betting shop uses within a limited section of Leytonstone High Road, which would detract from the retail appeal of the area and fail to contribute to the Council’s regeneration objectives for the area thus adversely impacting upon the retail vitality and viability of this are contrary to Policy CS14 of the adopted Waltham Forest Local Plan Core Strategy (2012) and Policy DM25 of the adopted Waltham Forest Development Management Policies (2013).
  • The proposed change of use would result in a cluster of betting shops which may lead to anti-social behaviour issues and increased incidents of street crime within the locality which could effect the health and well-being of local residents, contrary to Policies CS13 and CS16 of the Local Care Plan Core Strategy and Policy DM25 of the Development Management Policies.

The FOCUS Team queried the approval of the subsidiary applications for a new shop front, air conditioing and aerials. It appears that planning law does not allow officers to link applications, each has to be treated as individual requests, and there were no reassons for refusal.

It now remains to be seen whether Paddy Power decide to appeal this ruling.

The Liberal Democrats will keep you informed of any developments.

STOP PRESS – The gaming license for these premises is due to be heard by the Licensing Panel on 6 October.