Tag Archives: Grenfell

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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The new Monopoly game

Do you remember playing monopoly? Did you ever play it? I grew up loving it. I am not some realtor, some real estate dreamer beyond the dream of having my own place. Most of us are like that. Just the time when I was young and the family played that game, or plying it with a couple of friends. I ended up having several versions, including the replica original with coins, in a wooden box, just a cool thing to have. So when we consider this game, as the prices of the streets were shown in those days; we knew that blue was the highest an always out of our reach. I lived in a green property for some time, so life felt good, yet today, Yellow, Red, Orange, Purple and light blue are no longer in my view of affordability, in the best case, I might be able to get one of the brown coloured properties. This is how the market changed in a mere 22 years. From an optional 80% of the map to a mere 2 out of 16, that is all that was left to me. So when I read ‘Total UK wealth tops £10tn thanks to City and property boom‘ by Larry Elliott (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/aug/08/total-uk-wealth-city-property-homes-inequality-saving), I just had to laugh. I understand that he might be trying to have a sense of humour about it. Yet when we see “A booming City and rising house prices provided a double boost to Britons holding assets in 2016 as they pushed the nation’s wealth through the £10tn mark, according to a new survey“, the question becomes: ‘How much of that is NOT owned by foreign investors?‘ Is that a weird question or what? Even as we see “Since the better off held a greater proportion of these assets, 40% of the gains of rising share and bond prices went to the richest 5% of households“, is ‘households’ correct or should it read clients represented by British law and accountancy firms, representing foreign interests in the UK? With “The £3.9tn increase in the value of residential property and financial assets owned by UK residents represented a 59% rise, whereas prices rose by 39% and gross household income was up 37%“, we see again the ‘UK resident‘ part and when we take a look at the government (at http://www.ukimmigration.com/investor/uk_investor_visa.htm), we see that basically any person investing in any property (as the London bulk is well over £1 million, the threshold for foreign investors is reached), which beckons the call, when we start digging into UK residents versus UK citizens, how will this all end? Lloyds shows even more sense of humour with “Lloyds said its figure excluded non-residential property and assets held by charities and other non-profit institutions“, which clearly includes all the foreign investors and they are always in it for the profit. It is the final part that gives the new consideration “However, a continued low mortgage rate environment, combined with an ongoing shortage of properties for sale, should help continue to support house prices over the coming months“. This now gives the premise, have the current and previous governments been guilty of betraying the British people by setting the stage of ‘ongoing shortage of properties for sale‘, in this we see the historic part that former Prime minister Margaret Thatcher was the last of the prime ministers giving a rising and clear need for social housing. We see this in the 2015 article from the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-14380936) where the amount of social housing went up in the beginning of her ‘reign’ to the highest ever recorded surpassing 150,000 right-to-buy, it took a small dive and in 1987 it got back to around 140,000, after she was succeeded in 1990, social housing took a steep dive to below 50,000 and from there it just went down and down. At the end of the labour reign in 2010 it was at the lowest stage ever, only now is there a small increase visible in that graph. Yet in the BBC article we also see a problem, even as it compares to 1918 where owner occupied is a mere 23%, the 2012-2013 part where 65% is owner occupied is as I call it ‘misrepresented‘ at 65%, because how much of that is empty and what part is foreign invested? You see, plenty of places in London are not offered for rent, but for lease, so who is the owner in that case and where does this fit in that graph? If we add the privately rented, we see that socially rented is a mere 16% (way higher than 1918), yet as we see the Thatcher numbers, who got the people there and how were the people kept out of affordable housing by not making that available. In Australia it might be as bad as the valid people in NSW housing are on the lists for a time in excess of 6 years. So how is that a solution to solving housing issues? And let’s not forget, when the housing is set and forced to become a larger contributor to social (read affordable) housing, what then remains of this ‘£10tn UK wealth‘ housing side? The fact that both sides of the political isle have been in denial and remiss to get any of that solved and Jeremy Corbyn claims to have a solution by pushing the UK in even deeper debt, deeper by the better part of a trillion pounds. So how does that help anyone?

Now, we might accept and understand that life in London is never affordable ever again, yet the political isles must equally accept that this change could constitute an infrastructure collapse. This gets us to some old news. In August 2014 we saw (at https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/aug/07/london-gets-24-times-as-much-infrastructure-north-east-england) the mention ‘London gets 24 times as much spent on infrastructure per resident than north-east England‘ which is a nice title, yet the dangers are shown soon thereafter. With “more than half of that total was down to the decommissioning of the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria – necessary, doubtless, but hardly an infrastructure ‘improvement’ as most people would understand it” we see only part of the danger. The quote “New analysis of public infrastructure spending by IPPR North lays bare the gap between how much capital expenditure there is in the capital than the rest of England” shows another part, yet the actual issue is not what is spent, but what is required to get something done. When we paraphrase it into “analysis of public infrastructure spending by IPPR North lays bare the gap between how much is required for the same amount of work in London compared to the rest of England” we see the dangers, when the infrastructure maintenance is 2400% of the rest of the UK, there is a danger, yet is it the correct one? In February this year, we see a partial repetition of the old Guardian article, yet with updated numbers it shows (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/20/more-than-half-uk-investment-in-transport-is-in-london-says-study) that London requires 50% of all the funds. In all this we are not given any reliable numbers, because in all this I do not see the comparison of £ per mile of rail serviced. Consider that London has 20 times the amounts of rail that most places have and he London rail when stretched can get a person from Waterloo station to Glasgow five times over (OK, slight exaggeration). Yet the message should be clear. As the infrastructure has less options with in addition less people being anywhere near it, the city of London is facing all levels of collapse. Another part was shown on July 17th in the Independent. The title ‘More than half a million social homes in England do not meet basic health and safety standards‘ is the first indication that social housing and infrastructure are beyond collapsing. With quotes like ‘almost one in seven of all social homes in England‘ are below standards, we see a dangerous escalation. So in this we see a mention of 224,000 houses where the most dangerous safety hazards (category one) is seen. It includes “exposed wiring, overloaded electricity sockets, dangerous boilers, leaking roofs, vermin infestations or inadequate security“, yes, the right and proper place to get your partner pregnant and start a family, would you not agree?

Even as we now see that the Grenfell disaster is a first step in looking into cladding, they all seem to forget that the cladding was done to appease the houses around Grenfell, in addition, the other failures and dangers are basically the non-cladding issues, so the mess is a lot bigger. when we consider the quote “Local authorities have a legal duty to act if a category one hazard is discovered, but hundreds of thousands are going unreported or ignored” we see a much clearer situation where government and city council members could be held accountable towards the transgression of ‘reckless endangerment‘ of lives, so in all this, what is the CPS doing? Has the Crown Prosecution Services made any start on taking a look at this, because these 244,000 houses would in theory represent 300,000 people working to some degree for the London Infrastructure, being it the underground, busses or other civil offices, if even 10% falls away, what happens then? How much pressure, increased costs and non-functional infrastructure remains for London at that point? It seems that the City of London has no way of dealing with such dangerous terms. As I see it, Lord Mayor Sadiq Khan has his work cut out for him. We should all agree that he did not cause this, but he can equally agree that it is on his plate at present and his success will be weighed against his ability to lower that danger and remove the hazards within his largely leased London city.

So as we look at the wealth boom, how exactly is it benefiting the UK and specifically London? As London becomes less and less affordable, as its ‘status’ as premium investment location continues, we might soon see a London that even the tourists can no longer afford. This is not a danger at present with the dropping pound against the Euro, so London is a great place to visit for Europeans. Yet the reality is that this benefit is merely short term, the dangers as the UK turns its economy around, which they will for certain, gives dangers that the dangers I predict are merely 5 years away. When that happens the tourism part will drop, not by a small part, but by a phenomenal amount (In my speculative view well over 20%), so whoever is investing now needs to get that part back in 4 years, they might be facing deadly competition for the few remaining tourists after that. The Time in 2015 talked about the tourism bubble and set it to greed, I think that it is not merely greed; in all this the infrastructure that is dangerously close to a collapse would be a much larger contributing item in all this. So as we see that the infrastructure is in a dangerous place, we need to wonder how the UK government will be addressing this. It is not like it is not a clearly visible issue. It is merely one of several critical issues that the UK faces. Yet in this, the housing part is also the contributing factor for other sides of infrastructure as well. We saw 3 weeks ago that the NHS has 86,000 posts vacant. Not only can they not be filled, even if there was a person available, the reality is that for nurses life in London has become largely unaffordable, which hits social housing as well as infrastructure, a clear visible item known for the better part of 3 years. As a conservative I would be willing to blame my political party, yet the BBC chart clearly shows that as the conservatives came back into office the social housing curve was moving back up (to the smallest degree). Now, there is part that was done by the previous labour government, but only to an even smaller degree. In this I will end with an article that the Business insider has in 2015, in it we see the minimum income per area, when we take a look is that only the cheapest place was affordable for NHS nurses, 54 miles from the hospital, anything nearer would require double the income they presently have, some places are forever out of their reach. Even whilst I know of some places in Swiss Cottage, Southwark and West Brompton, it is shy of the 86,000 places, it will not even give aid to 1%, or 860 places to live in. So, as some people are shrugging at the £10tn wealth value, or the imaginative issue that the NHS problem will solve itself. We need to realise that a few of these issues were interconnected and have been for many years. In this Labour and Conservatives are both to blame, they achieved nothing in stopping, or decently reducing the danger. So when you look at the Monopoly board consider the 22 places and which of these streets you cannot afford a place to live in. So how was this UK wealth any help in resolving the quality of life for those not in the top 5% wealth part, which amounts 98.85% of the UK population, foreign investors excluded.

Consider that side when the next rent is due, and more important, even as all the papers are shouting about rent drops, in the end, the rental price is merely increasing slower for now. With the rent being on average set to £1,500, the 12 month increase is set between £22 and £35 a month depending on your condition, so when you consider that if these people are lucky, their pay increase ended up being up to £61 a month, we see that the increase only takes care of the rent, it will not hold water to take care of the increased price of groceries or heating, so the outlook for the British tenant will be gloomy this Christmas. And before you start blaming Brexit, it would not have mattered one bit. If anyone tells you different, as I personally see it, they would be lying to you.

The people in Britain are seeing a new Monopoly board. Where you start with £800 and passing start gets you a mere £100, in addition add 15% to every street in the first 5 turns and add another 15% for the rest of the game. The final changes are 40% more due for any station and set utilities to 15 times rolled, regardless if it is one or both owned. Now we get a slightly more realistic version of the game as we live it today, so how far would you get in that version of the game? I might want to add that we would need to add 4 pubs, one for each side and treat them like the stations, yet the amount due is 10 times the rolled dice. It seems that our childhood monopoly is the one we still think we live at times, even as we never had any ambitions to own hotels, we always expected to get one house in one street sometimes in our lives; the reality is that this is no longer an expected reality. The reality is now that whomever owns and keeps a place, leaving that to the children is the only guarantee that they have any future at all in the UK, a reality that was not due to Brexit, but due to a government having other commitments, one that was to spending too much whilst not having any backup in place, it is the reality all in the UK face until well over 2040. I still believe that the conservative path to diminish the debt is the only way out and when we consider the news about the £40 billion divorce bill, that is not too weird, because at present Mario Draghi is spending 150% of that every month and getting out now seems to be a lot safer than being around when that collapses, or is that explodes into the faces of EU citizens? Most disagree with me on that, loads of them with economic degrees and that is fine. As I see it, the people all over are in denial of previous debts made and seem to imply that it is not for them to solve, so at your banks when you borrow £2500 every month to pay for things like rent, do you think that you will not have to pay any of it back? Do you think that financial institutions are that philanthropically minded? So as City AM announced on July 17thEurozone inflation fell in June, the European Commission today confirmed, easing pressure on the European Central Bank (ECB) to start tightening monetary policy at its next announcement on Thursday”, yet a week later we see “Draghi struck a dovish tone at the meeting in Frankfurt, with no firm date given to an announcement on the future of the quantitative easing programme, but investors were not convinced”, which we got on Friday July 21st. So as the spenders are all in denial on several levels, we see that their impact could be a disaster for London when that hits, I have stated in personal belief that getting out of that mess sooner would be essential for the UK. A mere week ago we saw (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-03/big-investors-losing-faith-in-europe-s-ecb-fuelled-junk-rally). Now we see the first mention, not of QE, but the mentioning of ‘ECB-Fuelled Junk Rally’, Bloomberg is now speaking almost the same parts that I have advocated against for many months. With the quote “Deutsche Asset Management has reduced holdings of European junk bonds in its 100 billion euro ($106 billion) multi-asset portfolios and JPMorgan Asset Management says investors should brace for a tough second half. BlackRock Inc. says risks for European credit are tilted to the downside and Nataxis SA recommends dialing back high-yield debt exposure” the large players seem to accept (read: come to the conclusion) the dangers I warned for, for many months, this is a dangers that Brexit should avoid. So, as some players are trying to delay it all, so that the UK gets part of that additional 2 trillion (as I see it).

These matters are connected, you see, when those players try to escape the sewers they will seek other parts that give rise to returns on investment that avoids their downfall, this is where the Monopoly game comes in. Because the reality is that this mentioned UK wealth of £10tn could be the escape hatch they need, yet in that the dangers to the infrastructure would only increase, I might be wrong in that view, yet it is merely my view. So feel free to disagree, providing you do not cry when I am proven correct yet again.

 

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