Tag Archives: David Lammy

Delusional taxation

The Guardian gave us a piece that is just too unequal for words (at https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2018/jul/07/its-time-for-britains-millionaire-pensioners-to-pay-up). Not only is the stage wrongfully set by Phillip Inman, he hides behind the emotional drive and gives no consideration of the historical facts. So even as he ‘treated’ some people to ‘The Financial Crisis: How Did We Get Here‘, we need to see the right setting on how the inactivity of some got us to this place. He starts right of the bat with ‘The retired are having a great time at the expense of young families thanks to generous pensions and property wealth‘. You see, the property boom is fictive, artificial and pushed because some council’s needed to look good for investment, the prices are driven upwards. The fact that three governments have been totally ignorant of the housing situation and that is shown with an utter lack of social housing is one piece of this evidence. In addition, some of these places have been taxed again and again, in some cases up to four generations. Phillip does not notify the reader on that part. The bigger and even more deafening blow of injustice is given with: “A two-year investigation by the Intergenerational Commission, a group sponsored by the Resolution Foundation think-tank, has found that what it calls the “contract between the generations” is at breaking point. It warns that society risks dumping a disproportionate amount of the costs of an ageing population on their shoulders. It’s been going on for some time and now the situation is acute“, you see I was largely aware of that part in the 90’s, when I was not in the UK. Several people notified their governments of this danger (Netherlands, Germany, UK and Austria), yet those governments were all about sailing in good weather, it was not on their plate, so they ignored it. Several players in these places warned of the dangers and in the end too little was done, until it was too late and now everyone is crying on the hardship that comes. The largest portions of those people now getting a pension worked, they worked every day and more hours than ever compensated for. All the elected politicians who remained asleep, optionally on Viagra or at parties ignoring the long term effects as they would no longer be in office (which is a speculation on how they used their time). Now those in office are set in a stage where they cannot unset the rights that these people acquired. Now it is all about “54-year-olds and above – are making increasing demands on an economic and social system that, after the 2008 financial crash, can barely cope with existing commitments“, yet those are demands that they were entitled to. They were taxed, often taxed too high and whilst some politicians made really poor decisions on how to invest these surpluses, they never considered that the losses would remain to bite everyone and now there is almost quite literally hell to pay for these people, and in this case these people are not the retirees, they are the former elected politicians, the economic advisors and the consultants that were hired at a much too high overpriced setting.

When we see “subsidised deposits: that just sent house prices spiralling upwards“, we should take the home owners that live in their home, all paid off out of the equation, should we not? In that same setting “It’s because they have a generous occupational pension and property wealth beyond anything they might have considered when they bought their first home“, you see, as long as they live in that house, it is their home, not wealth, not something they eat. Those caught in the bubble should not get taxed because they merely want a roof over their heads. Yet, in the eyes of those economists that does not count. Yes, those economists who have been setting the stage in their own advantage for decades, they are all ignored in this, are they not?

I do however like the setting that Phillip gives with: “Baby boomers had no idea that the overly generous pensions, failure to deal with the overspill from dirty industries and nimbyism would build up costs for the young“, yet in all this, he does not mention that since 1996 certain changes were needed, because the greying population issue was already well within the scope of everyone (everyone with any level of intelligence that is).

So when we see: “The commission and IF say working pensioners should at the very least pay national insurance. We should go beyond this policy and force the retired to pay income tax under a separate regime. This would set the 40p rate at £20,000 (compared with £43,000 for workers) and the 45p rate at £40,000 (against £150,000 for workers). A new regime for property tax is also needed that taxes more wealth at a lower rate, spreading the load and making it less avoidable, capturing the rich and middle-income earners alike

We need to change the setting. We need to make it very clear that this is not just wrong; we should demand that these people come out in front of it all. Not hide behind the word ‘commission’, but we are entitled to know the people and they need to be held accountable for their actions in this.

So,

  1. David Willetts, Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation (chair)
  2. Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI
  3. Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI
  4. Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC
  5. Geoffrey Filkin, Chairman of the Centre for Ageing Better
  6. John Hills, Professor of Social Policy at the LSE
  7. Kate Barker, economist and former MPC member
  8. Nigel Wilson, Group Chief Executive of Legal & General
  9. Paul Johnson, Director of the IFS
  10. Sarah O’Connor, Employment Correspondent at the Financial Times
  11. Torsten Bell, Director of the Resolution Foundation
  12. Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change

All commissioners of the Intergenerational Commission (at https://www.intergencommission.org/), in addition to this, all the economic advisors where bad advice can be identified, those economists, need to get taxed for the losses that their advice caused out of their own pocket. You cannot tax one population twice over, whilst these people get richly rewarded for not doing their job correctly in the first place. The UK was far behind, when the BBC gave us in 2007: ‘The UK is going through the biggest pension shake-up in 50 years’, they were already a decade too late, this is not news, this issue has been slowly growing for over a decade and now we get highly priced think tanks giving out reports on how to solve stupidity and inaction. So when we see “In an attempt to improve the state pension prospects of women – who often take time out of work to look after children – the number of years of National Insurance Contributions (NICS) it takes to earn a full state pension will be cut from 44 to 30. This will mean millions more people, mainly women, will be entitled to a full state pension. The government has also tried to tackle the issue of vanishing workplace pension provision, as firms move to cut staff pensions” (at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6937301.stm), we see a level of inactions from a failing setting. Instead of giving a clear change of more payments into the pension system, we see a feigned ‘the number of years of National Insurance Contributions (NICS) it takes to earn a full state pension will be cut from 44 to 30‘, so not only is there an issue of shortage, the setting that a full pension could be earned was set to 68%, so 30% is close to gone, because all the late starters now suddenly get a full pension. When you realise those levels of close to insane stupidity, will the hearings show that economic advisors told them that it would work? So who were these consultants? We want full disclosure of these people. Should we not be allowed those facts? And when we confront these people will their reply be: ‘it was slightly more complex than I comprehended‘. So can we foreclose on these highly paid consultants and auction off their belongings to make up for the losses?

If that sounds unfair, consider the unfairness of taxing a group after a lifetime of service (or at least 68% of the time) again? Most these people had to bend over backwards to keep their place, keep their job and when it is finally retirement time, we hit them again. I think that this is beyond acceptable.

So when we see the end “The millionaire no longer just lives in the squire’s house. Times have changed. The retired teachers of Beverly in Yorkshire, and former BT engineers in Tunbridge Wells, are having a great time at the expense of young families” then my response is: ‘It is a fucking lie!‘ They are living of funds that they were taxed for their entire lives, the fact that they live in places that they made liveable is because they worked on it most of their live and suddenly that value is because no one was willing to contain the housing bubbles as it call in the foreign investors. That is the truth of the matter and whilst we all consider that truth, also consider the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/04/anger-over-glut-of-posh-ghost-towers-london), where we see “London councils have granted property developers planning permission to build more than 26,000 luxury flats priced at more than £1m each, despite fears that there are already too many half-empty “posh ghost towers” in the capital“, the Battersea Powerhouse, where social housing was cut after agreements were ‘adjusted’, and as we see in addition: “Politicians and housing campaigners said the figures show councils are prioritising the needs of the super-rich over those of hardworking young Londoners“, we start to see how the entire setting from Phillip Inman is just a load of bollocks, the flawed London setting is showing that the infrastructure will collapse sooner rather than later, it is a simple setting because empty places do not fuel the needs of groceries, butchers and supermarkets. They are merely empty plots that have only value for the investor and only for as long as profit can be made. Not only is the pension setting a travesty, when seen against the backdrop that David Lammy,  the Labour MP for Tottenham gives “Just 6,423 affordable homes were built in London during the 2016-2017 financial year (the latest figures available), a 5% decline on the previous year and a big drop from the 19,622 built in 2014-15“, labour is not innocent here either, the previous labour governments were no help in any way and whilst we see how 26,000 luxury flats are added to the London region driving prices even further up, the setting of: ‘to generous pensions and property wealth‘, is merely a facade on inflated egos and the need to find taxation for those houses to be vacated so that they get upgraded too. Some people should be ashamed of themselves and until those names are out in front in the open and those who failed get prosecuted, until that day is fact, there is not acceptable setting where the pensioners are to be taxed in any way.

It just ain’t cricket!

Oh and whilst we are at it, can someone please sack the entire Wandsworth council? When we need to set to the forefront “Only 9% of the homes will be affordable, far below London mayor Sadiq Khan’s 35% affordability target for all new large developments” again (I already did that last year), we need to make sure that those who allowed that drop will never be allowed to work anywhere in government ever again, let’s face it, they could still become barber or Uber driver.

In addition, in a flair of social justice when we see “The Coutts figures, compiled by housing data service LonRes, show that developers are pushing ahead with the vast number of expensive new flats despite failing to sell more than half of the 1,900 luxury homes they built in London last year“, these developers should not be allowed to continue, unless the unsold apartments are leased for social rentals to the council at £1 per year, whilst 80% of the rent goes to the pension funds fuelling it and 20% is for the developer (for their cooperative trouble). So, I solved the entire issue for the next 5 years without having to tax the pensioners and getting almost 1,000 additional social homes. There was not need to get 12 commissioners involved, we merely need Mayor Sadiq Khan to set the London legislation to that solution. I do believe that the lord mayor owes me a large cappuccino with two sugars and a warm blueberry muffin. That’s not too outrageous a fee, is it?

 

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A hanging matter

In light of all the news we see, from North Korea who is gracing the planet with tectonic shocks to HSBC who now heralds “the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) entered into with the Department of Justice (DoJ) had expired – lifting the threat of further penalties“, yes these are the parties you simply care about. But the fact is that the issues seen should be regarded as trivial, even as most board members of HSBC should be hung from a lamp post by the neck, mainly because the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/05/hsbc-chairman-douglas-flint-interview-profile-profit-growth-scandal) states that the bank that is ‘too big to manage, too big to fail and too big to jail’, could be instantly solved by 19 pieces of rope each around 15 feet in length (about $175 in total). Yes, some solutions are actually that simple. Yet in all this, how does this go over for those who survived Grenfell? That is the actual issue. Jeremy Corbyn might take advantage on the matter with “failure to rehouse Grenfell Tower survivors a disgrace“, yet if his party had done a lot more between 1990-2010, the disaster might have been less. In this the conservatives have been equally guilty, because after the Iron lady (Thatcher 1979-1990) the housing matter had been going downhill. We see the news on all these over the top events of buildings, investors and places that are impossible to afford, the people end up not having any kind of housing option and that is where the people of Grenfell are. In nowhere land, with nothing to look forward to and no one is picking up the axe to chop down whatever is set against them. Yet HSBC with its $4.6 billion pre-tax profit is up and surging to surpass its $13 billion annual profit and they no longer have to fear further penalties. Yes, the jurisprudential engine is failing the people to the largest degree at present.

So when we look back to September 14th (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-41262914), did we get answers? As the investigation did split we get “Sir Martin said the inquiry would be split into two phases – with the first examining how the blaze developed and the second looking at how the building became so exposed to the risk of a major fire.

The fact that the report is still well over three months away does not help. Even as the media focusses on what is happening now (makes perfect sense), the Guardian gives us (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/dec/11/homeless-because-of-a-tragedy-struggle-to-rehouse-grenfell-survivors-continues), ‘‘Homeless because of a tragedy’: struggle to rehouse Grenfell survivors continues‘, this is truly an issue in these days as we go towards the festive season and there is no real solution for this. The politicians that short changed the need of the people from 1990 onwards is showing to be a centre piece in all this. Yet at http://newlondondevelopment.com/ we see that 1318 projects are in play with the quote “New London Development showcases significant commercial and residential development across London“, yet how much of that falls in the affordable living category? So consider the Battersea Power Station. In May the amount of affordable houses as stated under the initial deal got cut by 40%, there is a larger issues and as councils rubber stamp options for developers as they cry to the song ‘losses in my life!‘, the larger issue is that this might be the most visible one, it is not the only one. In all we do know that a lot of the 1318 projects are commercial and corporate projects, plenty of them are housing and how many others have been slicing affordable houses on the list? In all this the quote “However, the project headed by a Malaysian-led consortium is on course to make profits of £1.8bn” and that is the larger problem, Lord Mayors past and present had done too little to stop councils from proceeding the way they did in regards to the Battersea Power Station. We see this in the quote ““If these numbers are accurate, they seem to suggest that the council have had the wool pulled over their eyes – allowing themselves to be hoodwinked into cutting affordable housing while the developer’s profits remain strong,” Khan told the Observer.” As I personally see it, they treated their ego as it was their penis and played for it slightly too long, instead of getting the guidance they needed. They weren’t hoodwinked, they were merely ego driven and they got played as stupid people tend to get played. That latter part is seen in the quote “the council failed to provide us with this information before deciding to send the application to planning committee for decision“, in my view it shows intent, it shows that they valued their ego above all else and as such they should not be allowed to be in the position that they are in. The fact that they have no short-list of houses for people like those facing the Grenfell issue is further evidence still. This is not new information, these are details that have been known for 5 months, in all this, the Grenfell people are in hotels, or better stated close to 80% of the survivors are. In this the papers give us “from Theresa May’s unachievable commitment, made in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, to get them into new homes within three weeks, to the current promise that everyone will be rehoused within a year“, which might have been realistic, yet with councils catering to developers profit, there is a decent indication that housing them all within a year might not be achievable at all. Yet it could have been worse. Grenfell could have been without victims and 71 additional houses would be needed. Can you imaging the coldness of this statement? This is seen in “There’s something about the language that feels transactional, that feels like the local people are consumers” and that is just the larger issue. The councils have become mere spread sheet users where the budget is the bottom line. From cladding savings to developer catering, the bottom line is profit and the ‘mishap’ called Grenfell towers is not an acceptable situation for any of them, yet for them it is not about the victims, or the aftermath, it is about the spread sheet needing to adjust for houses that are not there, not foreseen and not anticipated. In all this to help these people councils should be less emotional and in that regard the transactional pose might apply or be acceptable to some, yet the hardship cannot be set in some value, it is set in the heart of the matter and that heart is bleeding. Now that we see ‘Human rights commission to launch its own Grenfell fire inquiry‘, we need to ask different questions. You see, I get it, it needs to be done, yet when there are two enquiries and as one is published a lot sooner, will they hinder one another, or more important, will the official investigation get hindered in all this, because that could enrage the population in the UK at large.

Part is seen in the independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/grenfell-tower-fire-latest-updates-police-manslaughter-misconduct-charges-criminal-hearing-deaths-a8103346.html) where we see a mere 17 hour ago: “Police considering manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and misconduct charges“, which is interesting as I voiced in agreement the term ‘corporate manslaughter‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/27/betrayed-by-government/) like the Labour Tottenham MP, David Lammy. Yet I went a step further. Is there enough evidence to consider murder? If the evidence shows ‘cutting costs at any expense‘, does that show reckless intent? Can we go from Manslaughter to full scale murder? Would that constitute a larger scale of targeted killings and as such there would be no defence for the accused?

In the end we will see what was and what should have been, yet in all this, the HSBC link should be clear to all ‘too big to manage‘, London housing is beyond normal managing and the 1318 projects in London are further evidence still that a massive overhaul is needed to get a much better view of all of the building and overhaul projects. The coffers are empty and such an overhaul as would be required might be wishful thinking from the current Lord Mayor, the direct simplification of reality is that such changes will take too long and will be too dramatic to be allowed to happen as such. ‘too big to fail‘ shows us that the status quo will be partially maintained and the influx of investors is crucially important and as such proper change is even less likely to happen. Finally there is ‘too big to jail’, in this there is a need to get it done, but in the end will there be enough evidence to allow for serious prison time? That will soon be the matter at hand and as the most senior QC’s in the business will oppose one another in the fine print of the law, we need to realise that this would in the end amount to an institutional failure and as such the likelihood of any of these senior players going to jail is less and less likely. It is within the law and we need to adhere to the law. The played ones become the players to not go to jail. I have no idea if it happens, whether they escape the noose or escape the ridicule, what is a clear given that it could have been settled with one piece of rope per neck. Should we do so, than we would be breaking the law, which is something we do not want to do, but in the end, the most likely outcome is a fine, just like with HSBC, it would be a large one, so the council would try to get some kind of deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), which would be the delay they need to get some kind of expiry date after which no one is held liable or accountable for the entire mess. In the end, whatever fine is paid, is paid from the empty coffers of government. Implying that the next wage freeze for nurses and Emergency Staff, the staff of the London Fire Brigade and the London Metropolitan Police will in the end pay for the stupidity of the local council and Grenfell building management.

I wonder how correct I will be in the end. If I end up being 100% correct, I feel sorry for whomever will have to deal with the rage of the public, because this could still get really ugly over the next 4-5 months.

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Betrayed by government?

That is how you should feel in the UK. This is not some issue with the conservatives, I myself am a conservative. The issue is on both sides of the isle. That issue was shown to be very much the case yesterday in an article by Robert Booth titles ‘Tower cladding tests after Grenfell fire lack transparency, say experts‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/26/tower-block-cladding-tests-after-grenfell-fire-lack-transparency-say-experts). Yet, Robert is skating around a few issues, and he should be confronted about this. You see, I covered a few of them three days before that and it took less than an hour to get those facts, they are out in the open. I published them (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/23/under-cover-questions/), with the actual brochure. You see, the Arconic brochure, which I had in the article as well. Stated: ‘it is perfect for projects less than 40 feet high‘. So please give us the name of the project manager who allowed for this cladding to be chosen, please give us his/her name. So when I read “The communities secretary, Sajid Javid, announced on Monday that samples of aluminium panels from all 75 buildings that had been sent for fire retardancy testing had so far “failed”“, I am not that surprised as the Arconic brochure states on page three ‘a polyethylene or fire-retardant compound’, so which is it, because polyethylene is a combustible element, so there must have been two options here. And there is, you see whoever made the choice chose the Reynobond (PE), which is the combustible edition, that is what earlier news gave us. So in that case, who signed off on that idea?

The actual Arconic leaflet gives you this information BEFORE purchasing. So when Robert gives us “The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) asked councils to cut samples of at least 25cm x 25cm from the cladding of towers and send them to the Building Research Establishment (BRE) at Watford for testing but has not said if the tests show whether they meet a British standard test” I wonder who are they kidding here. My question would be ‘Did the DCLG know that they were enabling their buildings to become Roman Candles with the option to kill anyone inside that building?‘ it is not really the same question, yet with Grenfell, we have the ‘evidence‘ to the better extent. The next part is even more hilarious, although not on the side of Robert Booth. The quote “Experts have warned that far more comprehensive tests on the entire cladding system are needed to establish if buildings are as at-risk as Grenfell was, including the insulation and design details such as fire stops. The shadow housing secretary, John Healey, told the House of Commons that “cladding is not the whole story”.” You see, here John Healey is as I personally see it the joke and it will be on him. There is indeed more than Cladding, yet the Celotex RS5000 seems to hold water as there are comprehensive fire tests, as one would expect and the brochure does not beat around the bush. They are giving the reader the test names, what and how it was tested. Unless specific combinations crop up (which is possible), the French firm who resides in Saint-Gobain did a decent job. Although in the last days there is an update that they are withdrawing their materials for any project on buildings that are taller than 18 metres. That is a fair step to take, yet with the possible impact this offers, certain parties could under common law now find themselves in a torts case for loss of economic value and losses, which could be a very large amount. This is what a lack of transparency gets you and Robert Booth does point that out. And yes, after my article, Celotex gives us “Celotex is shocked by the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this devastating human tragedy. We have been supplying building products for over forty years and as a business our focus has always been to supply safe insulation products to make better buildings.” I find that acceptable. Their brochure is to the point, gives us a lot of good and the architects should have had the info they needed as well as a handle what else to ask for or what else to test for. At present, unless there are inconsistencies or misquotes, the work of Celotex is all above board and all good (me speaking as a non civil-engineer). The second person now under scrutiny should be Barry Turner as we read: “Barry Turner, director of technical policy at Local Authority Building Control, which represents council building control officers also asked: “I would like to know just what tests these panels are failing.”“. You see, in opposition I would ask, what tests were performed, how was testing done and who signed off on that? Again Arconic gives us in their own brochure: “the ASTM E84 test” and it passed with a Class A. Yet, that test involves a horizontal test sample’, so how horizontal was the Grenfell tower when people were living in there? Perhaps a vertical test would have been needed. I am merely going for broke with the questions. Of course the press will soon focus on the ‘savings of £1.5 million‘ yet I wonder if there is a real story there. It could be, but I am not convinced. You see, the directive to choose away from the initial builder as to the why, and the shown facts beyond the mere cost saving that will impact it all. In addition, the fact that the cladding was done to appease the luxury flats around that building is another matter for discussion. You see, when a building was safe enough, adding a fire hazard means that those requestors can also be interviewed very visibly now. They wanted a better view, so how was that view on June 14th? Yet we see little of that in the article. At this point, Robert gives us a gem, one that is interesting. The quote “The London Borough of Hounslow, where the Clements Court tower failed the DCLG test, panels are being “swiftly” removed, but the council stressed: “The insulation material behind this outer cladding is a ‘Rockwool’ material which is a non-combustible product, unlike the case of the Grenfell Tower, where the insulation was a combustible type“. You see, when we look at the RS5000, we see “Due to its excellent thermal insulating efficiency at service temperatures ranging from -297°F to +300°F, polyiso foam has become the standard for low temperature insulation applications“, this is the information we get on ‘Polyisocyanurate Foam‘ which is what is used in RS5000. So who are the members of that council, can we get names please? With the encountered allegations that go nowhere, we do not seem to get any names, so shall we get all the members of the Borough of Hounslow in the dock and ask them some questions? The fact that the insulator seems to fail is that vertically burning polyethylene (Raynobond PE) tends to go beyond 300F really fast, and we can agree that under normal weather conditions, the temperature of 150 degrees would never be met, would it? The final quote to look at is “One architect responsible for some of the projects where cladding has been ruled to have failed, asked: “What are they testing to what standard? This could be a massively costly and disruptive error to thousands of residents.”“, what standard? Well the one that does not burn people to a crisp would be nice. And if it is a costly, does that not make the test still valid? Also the given term “’costly and disruptive error’ to thousands of residents” by that architect? Perhaps his comment was taken out of context to some degree, but it still leaves me with questions. The disruptive error we see now is that those people who died do not complain, the ones burned and still living will complain as will their family members. The fact that I as a non architect, with limited firefighting expertise (a remnant of my merchant navy and marine rescue days) was able to question the validity of choosing Raynobond PE the moment I had gone through their 7 page marketing brochure. There remains an option that there are questions regarding the Celotex RS5000, yet with the massive failure that the cladding was, the insulator has no real way of proving itself. All this was obtained from merely watching 30 seconds of news film and one product brochure. In that we see that over half a dozen councils need to reassess their values and choices as we now see that changes made in haste are done in Liverpool, London, Plymouth, Salford city and Camden. I reckon that a few more are to follow before the week is out. In all this I love the BBC radio 4 quote the best: “Cladding is being removed from three tower blocks in Plymouth, which were found to have the lowest possible fire safety rating“, how does one consider going for the LOWEST possible fire rating? It almost sounds like a Victorian advertisement: “Pay rent until the day you die, we offer both in our places of settlement!

Grenfell is showing clearly that the focus of the government failed, not just this one, both Labour and Conservatives are equally guilty here. Having seen the paper trail as a foundation of non-clarity for far too long, I wonder how this was not brought to light a lot earlier. The complaints from the people in Grenfell can be used as evidence in this case. This time it got a lot of people killed and as he Tottenham MP, David Lammy stated the term “corporate manslaughter“, it leaves me with two things that you all should consider carefully. The scope implies that it is not just corporate and there is every chance that MP’s and council members could share the dock here in court. The second one is that when the evidence shows that it was about cutting costs at any expense, we see that with the BBC4 radio part. Is it still manslaughter, or does it become murder? Is leaving people in death-traps, with such intend manslaughter, or should we call it the way it is “casualties for the sake of profit margins“. There is no common law part in law or in UK cases to make this an actuality, but perhaps it should. Perhaps it is time to make that change, if only to stop greed to some degree, because 149 victims in one building would sanctify such a change in law. The government that does not give that honest consideration in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords during at least two sittings each is betraying the trust you bestowed upon them. This is now becoming a job for the Law Lords and as the blogger Lawlordtobe I call upon them to make the UK a safer place to be.

 

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Under cover questions

Yes, it has been a week. When the fire was first reported I steered clear. It was a fire. What was weird was the ferociousness of the fire, I had questions from the moment I saw the fire, but I waited. I had no Intel, I had no facts and it was a fire after all. Fires happen. Yet, those who saw the limelight seeking photos from the Telegraph might have noticed a thing or two. You see, the fire was like a fire that Hollywood could not do. The Towering inferno was not that intense. The fact that the fire had a casualty list that is massive is also an odd part in all this. So I decided to wait, I would not be the one shouting arson on something that was not that. The consequence is a little too unsettling. Yet now, a week later I found myself collecting what I could. It started with the noise on cladding.

The first thing I found was a similar issue in Victoria, Australia. On April 30th 2015 we see: “Testing conducted by the CSIRO in mid-April on behalf of MFB found that the Alucobest cladding material installed by building company failed to comply with high-rise combustibility requirements“, in addition there is “The external cladding material on this building did not prevent the spread of the fire as required by the Building Code of Australia,” said MFB chief officer Peter Rau“. It was a fire that happened in 2014. So these events had been happening for years. This now gets us to Rydon Ltd in East Sussex. They got the job, because they were £2.5 million cheaper. Like in the Towering Inferno, that place went down in the story because of cutting corners. So my initial thought was that this might be the case here too. The question is ‘Was that the case?‘ You see, it is all good and fine in books, but the reality is how were the materials tested, how did the makers of the original cladding present their materials? One of the parts is ‘Celotex RS5000 PIR thermal insulation‘, when we look at those specification we see: “Fire propagation ‘BS 476: Part 6′, Pass” and “Surface spread of flame ‘BS 476: Part 7′, Class 1“. It comes with the footnote “The fire performance and classification report issued only relates to the components detailed above. Any changes to the components listed will need to be considered by the building designer”

The entire issue becomes more of a mess when we consider that ITV business editor Joel Hills stated that he had been told that the installation of sprinklers had not even been discussed (at http://www.itv.com/news/2017-06-15/grenfell-tower-original-proposed-contractor-was-dropped-to-reduce-cost-of-refurbishment-project/), the ITV article focusses on the ‘cost saving‘ which is correct, yet the one part they do not raise is whether the materials were up to scrap. In addition they do mention two parts that are essential. One is “In 2013 the government wrote to every local authority to encourage them to retrofit sprinkler systems in older tower blocks. It did so at the request of a coroner who leads an inquest into a fire in Camberwell in which six people died“, the second one was “Before passing judgement on whether the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management therefore acted irresponsibly, bear in mind that, according to the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association, only 100 older tower blocks in Britain have been retrofitted with sprinklers since 2013. Around 4,000 have not“, the councils were apparently put off by the costs, which in this was about £1150 per apartment. We read more about these tests as presented by Celotax (at http://www.ecosafene.com/EN/firetesting/building/228.html), so we get some clarity here. Yet the surface flame test (BS 476-7, linked in the referred page), gives us “Extinguish the pilot flame 1 min after the start of the test“, yet these numbers will not add up, because there were no sprinklers, no dousing the flame, so the entire operation will be working on different elements. This does not invalidate the test, yet if I look at the Ecosafene site I am now looking at ‘BS 476-15Fire Tests on Building Materials for Measuring the Rate of Heat Release‘ as well as ‘BS 476-5 Fire Test to Building Material for Ignitablity‘, you see, this caught fire somehow, after that Bob is your crispy dead uncle (in this case). Yet in all this, we did not mention Celotex. Their site gives us “As with the rest of the nation our thoughts continue to be with those affected by the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower in London. On Wednesday, as soon as we were able to, we confirmed that our records showed a Celotex product (RS5000) was purchased for use in refurbishing the building. We wanted to provide an update to that statement and provide further information as we are able to. It is important to state that Celotex manufacture rigid board insulation only. We do not manufacture, supply or install cladding. Insulation is one component in a rain screen system, and is positioned in that system behind the cladding material“, It is what we now see in the Metro that kinda takes the biscuit. “Controversial cladding was added to Grenfell Tower in part to improve the view for nearby luxury flats“, which must have been a nice clambake to watch I reckon. It is the term ‘Controversial cladding‘ that now becomes the focus. You see, the Birmingham Mail and others are all about: “Grenfell Tower £8 million refurbishment ‘met all required standards’“, yet the fire does seem to tell a different story. The Guardian has another article linked to all this. The article ‘Complex chain of companies that worked on Grenfell Tower raises oversight concerns‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/15/long-builder-chain-for-grenfell-a-safety-and-accountability-issue) gives a few items a few answers and more questions. In opposition I need to give the quote “Ben Bradford, a fire safety expert who is managing director of the risk consultancy BB7, said the multiple links in the chain of contractors could cause safety problems. “There are probably multiple failings that have occurred in this particular case,” he said. “The work, in terms of fire stopping, often falls to a sub-contractor. They don’t always realise the critical nature of the components they’re installing in the overall system“, I have an issue here. It is not untrue what he is stating, yet the elements on the page give us a little clarity. You see Rydon used Harley Curtain. This setup is not unique. Rydon cannot afford the amount of people needed, hence a subcontractor is used. They would work according to the requirements of Rydon. That link is seen with the subsequent links to Celotex and Arconic. So Celotex is the insulator and we saw all those links, yet now the actual cladding remains. ‘Reynobond PE‘, in the end Rydon had to sign off on that, in clarity, at present Rydon is the responsible part (until valid defence is given). You see, when we go to Arconic, we see “Reynobond PE features a polyethylene core that adds strength and rigidity to the coil-coated aluminium panels. This maximizes its flexibility and formability, while maintaining a light weight for easy installation“, you see, when I went to High School (early 70’s) I was told that polyethylene was combustible, it is a common trait in the polymer group as they are all inflammable family members. You see, perhaps it is just me, but the brochure states: ‘building code recognition‘, is that the same as passing a test? The tests Canadian fire tests CAN S101, CAN S102 and CAN S134 are a nice mention, yet the idea that an AMERICAN company is relying on Canadian fire tests got me thinking. I have not found the answer; I am merely puzzled by it. The question is what did Rydon know on that part? They are supposed to be the expected experts, I am not!

The question still gives us a concern, you see the fact that the outside got to play the part of Roman candle is one side, at that point the sprinklers inside the building would have been pretty useless at that point. What is interesting is the mention on page 5 of the brochure: “It’s perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high” This is an interesting part because the ‘why‘ comes into play, why only 3 stories? That part becomes a point of discussion, as page three shows a 7 story high building in the images. On page 6 we see the safety rating form flames and smoke as a pass with Class A as per ASTM E84. That part revealed two elements. One is the mention ‘This test method measures flame growth on the underside of a horizontal test specimen, using the Steiner tunnel test‘, the operative word is ‘horizontal‘, the next one is shown (at https://www.astm.org/Standards/E84.htm), here we see “This test method exposes a nominal 24-ft (7.32-m) long by 20-in. (508-mm) wide specimen to a controlled air flow and flaming fire exposure adjusted to spread the flame along the entire length of the select grade red oak specimen in 51/2 min“, in addition they do not give ‘measurement of heat transmission‘, which seems a pretty important element in VERTICAL applied cladding, as flames tend to ignore gravity and move upwards adding to the temperature, for those extra crispy roasted victims. More important the ‘effect of aggravated flame spread behaviour of an assembly resulting from the proximity of combustible walls and ceilings‘ and as polyethylene is combustible, we now have an issue. From my point of view, if Rydon signed off on this there is an issue. Yet more important, the fact that there is documentation that goes back to 2014 in Australia and there are a number of buildings in London that have this issue, London Town there is a much larger issue in play. Now, we see that everyone is bashing Theresa May, and as she made me no Bundt cake I am fine with that. Yet this is a long term failure. It has an impact on several administrations on both sides of the political aisle. There is a clear call, one made by MP David Lammy in the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/grenfell-tower-fire-corporate-manslaughter-arrests-david-lammy-mp-labour-london-kensington-a7790911.html). I agree that ‘corporate manslaughter‘ is more than a fair call. As the Tottenham Labour MP states this, there is a call for the executives of Rydon to explain and show their elements in all this. They should be in defence mode and it could result in their arrest if clear evidence of negligence is found. The elements I found clearly support that and that is merely the 45 minutes getting through some of the brochures and going through the fire tests. You see, the earlier quote from the Birmingham Mail with ‘met all required standards’ does not hack it in my view. I found three issues in mere minutes, so we either have a systematic failure of government allowing this to continue (even more damning in light of the concerns from the occupants that had been going on for some time), the other side is that underlying communications might or might not exist. There is no way to tell until this is brought into the open. David Lammy might not ‘name’ anyone, but I did, and they should be named. Yet that also means that they can and should defend themselves as they might not be the guilty party, but no matter what, they are to a larger extent, the accountable party until properly investigated. And this is not because I am trying to have a go at Rydon, I want this to come out into the open. The failure that we saw burn is just one of several buildings where cladding has been applied to, and as the train wreck is pushed into the limelight carriage after carriage, only then will we see the complete extent of the failure and there is no ‘walk softly’ that option has been taken away by the dozens of fatalities. A little limelight is the least of the problems these people need to face.

Even as we saw the ‘cost saving‘ there is still going to be a backlash to KCTMO, you see, they made a call on the cheaper option, which might be fair, but why was the ‘other‘ solution cheaper? When those elements are brought to the surface there will be questions as they tend to come, fair or not. This all gets to get political soon thereafter as we saw the ‘reasoning’ of ‘improve the view for nearby luxury flats‘, you see, I am not buying a Versace suit so that I look more appealing to my neighbour. She (and he) can bloody well move to Knightsbridge and get a more expensive view there. Yet, that is just me.

rs5000_productdatasheet_aug16

Reynobond_Brochure

 

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