Tag Archives: Grenfell

Space Quest 2.5

It is an interesting setting; the reference comes from one of Sierra-on-Line’s most famous games called Space Quest, in this game we see the hero going up against Vohaul and his evil plan: to eradicate sentient life by launching millions of cloned insurance salesmen at the planet!

That game came to mind the moment I was treated to ‘Grenfell-type cladding on London flats to be replaced at insurer’s cost‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/09/grenfell-type-cladding-on-london-flats-to-be-replaced-at-insurers-cost), in this we all might seem relieved, but the truth is hidden in the subtitle with ‘Decision over New Capital Quay could have repercussions for other apartment blocks’. This is the setting and it was never going to be a win-win situation for the house owners. We see the emotional part with “A second family, which has seen the value of its London flat slashed from £600,000 to just £90,000 because of the Grenfell-style cladding, was thrilled to learn they no longer faced the bill“, I am happy for that family, I truly am, even with the first example the Guardian gave. Yet the hidden trap is not invisible, it does not hold out in camouflage. The simplest question gets you there. How much effort have you gone through to get your insurance money? I have been through it twice in my lifetime and in the end it costed me more than the premiums ever did. When it comes to insurances (beyond third party insurance) you tend to never ever win, or break even.

You see, getting an insurance firm to part with money is a bit of an issue. So when I see that they are footing the bill, all kinds of red flags went up. In Victoria (Australia) we saw in 2015 “Victorian Building Association (VBA) conducted an audit of 170 building permits following an Melbourne apartment fire that climbed 13 floors in November 2014, causing $2 million in damages, due to combustible wall cladding used in construction“, and until you get the headline ‘cladding hazard may nullify claims‘, you might not get the essential one. This is not any different in the UK. In addition there is (from another source) “However, a good number of policies stipulate that if you’ve told your insurer you have fire alarms, they must work. If an insurer finds that a home’s fire detectors weren’t functioning correctly at the time of a fire, they might reduce the claim pay out, or even turn it down altogether“, as well as “Did we have working fire alarms? Did we have a fire blanket in the kitchen and extinguishers in the house? Was there an up-to-date electrical inspection report? Luckily, we complied, but similar issues apply to almost any policy“. Now consider these parts with the Grenfell like issues seen in: “The Guardian has learned that another deficiency notice from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) was issued on 25 January in relation to all 11 blocks in the complex. It identified 16 fire safety issues, including a lack of arrangements to evacuate vulnerable and elderly residents, an ineffective maintenance regime, a broken firefighting lift and a broken fire hydrant outside one of the blocks. It found that “the procedures to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger to relevant persons are inadequate”, raising residents’ fears about being trapped in the event of a fire“, which is given to us (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/15/further-defects-discovered-at-housing-with-grenfell-style-cladding).

So in these cases, we have an insurance problem, the building is not up to specs, and any fire voids the insurance, in most cases the home insurance is also affected, yet the insurers are covering it all this time. This is not merely the Grenfell setting, all the buildings are covered. Yet what we are likely to see is that this is a quick return on investment from the insurers. You see, there is every chance that the premiums will go up between £120 and £360 a year next year onwards. Now consider that this is not merely handed to those buildings fixed, it will most likely be an overall premium increase of 1%-1.5% for every building in London, which will give the insurance companies an expected £12m-£36m per year for the next 5 years at least. So the quote “Residents, who were facing a share of a bill estimated at between £25m and £40m for cladding and millions more for round-the-clock fire wardens, were elated with the news” gives us that the insurers will take an optional short term hit with the turning point in year 2 and large profits after that. It seems like a nice business deal for them, and in light of the avoided costs most will not blink at being happy, even when the new bills arrive.

Part of that danger is seen in things like “Common buildings insurance exclusions may include: Damage from general wear and tear & wilful neglect of the property“. That part matters, because the failing fire doors, non-working water pipes for firefighting as well as other elements. Now add the quote from the Conversation (at http://theconversation.com/yes-the-grenfell-tower-fire-is-political-its-a-failure-of-many-governments-79599), which was: “Worse, it has been reported that the London Fire Authority actually wrote to all boroughs as recently as April, advising them of their concerns on the use of some kinds of cladding panels. A number of expert reports have argued in favour of revising the building regulations, notably following the inquiry into the 2009 Lakanal House fire in Southwark in which six people died. The fact that the Lakanal House fire was eight years ago and building regulations have still not been updated demonstrates a complete failure to learn the lessons from previous disasters and take speedy corrective action“. We now see a clear path to both ‘Damage from general wear and tear‘, the fire doors and ‘Wilful neglect of the property‘ optionally the fire doors, the writing of the Local Fire Authority and the non-actions on the cladding. In these cases as well as most other buildings the insurance companies can basically walk away, leaving the tenants with a nightmare scenario. They did not and there is decades of evidence that insurance companies are in a black letter law cold environment in the heat of pretty much every fire. So this is about more than merely ‘a helping hand‘. This is about the SWOT where their position was in strength; the building cooperation as well as the local government were in a place of Weakness, the Opportunity is a nice premium rise giving them many millions a year more, with one year as optional collateral loss and the Threat is close to none, optionally the initial builders will get billed to some extend as well, making the optional losses for the insurance companies even lower than initially penciled in.

For this and the previous government it is a quick fix as well as a nice setting where everyone walks away without an invoice, the only thing that this government has to agree to is the coming premium rise and as the amount seems small, they will not oppose it, the one thing that bites is that all home owners will be likely to get that increase, cladding or not. And as we get bad news management through optimistic news, we see messages like “Flood Re confirmed that the announcement comes on the back of its decision not to pass on the annual increase to premium thresholds in April“, yet later this year we will with a decent measure of ‘most likely’ get news like: ‘The added risks as well as the additional costs of upgrading the buildings that have Grenfell like cladding have forced us to add a short term increase to all premiums, so that there will be no dangers to those currently in hazardous setting of coverage against fire’, yet I personally feel certain that all those not in those buildings, where the rule “Common buildings insurance exclusions may include: Wilful neglect of the property“. Those people will still take a hit on their claim if they have one.

I admit that a lot of it is based on personal experience (not fire based though) and in light of thousands of complaints in the past, my vision in what is likely to happen, might be correct and even conservative in the projected changes. Even as I am willing to grant the response that we see with: “Then we arrive and we are the big bad wolf, because the claim is not covered“, I personally see this as the people expect a spirit of the insurance setting whilst insurance firms see only a ‘black letter insurance policy setting‘. It is a view that the legal minds understand, but that might be the only group that does. It is an idiomatic antithesis that tends to settle in the world of laws (especially taxation laws). It is important to understand that I used to see the insurance companies as ‘white collar criminals’, but not anymore. I think that this is a deeper issue that we are all mostly ignorant to. It is almost a given that spirit of law and letter of law should be taught in secondary school. It is an important skill for anyone to have by the time they get their first house and get the insurances they need. It is an important view as this one setting in London giving us the realisation that the insurance companies are embracing the spirit of the insurance, not the letter of it; yet I personally believe that this is done to create a windfall that gives these companies millions down the track for a very long time to come. We can argue that they offer a cheaper solution for those who are faces with many thousands of pounds in cladding costs, yet others will not feel the same. I was not alone in this path, Reuters gave us last October “While they cannot change existing insurance cover, renewals, many of which fall due in Jan or April 2018, will give them a chance to adjust prices or policy wordings to mitigate their risks“, and so they already had something. The question becomes, what is the cost of mitigating risk? The people will find out when they get their news premium invoice in 2019. Then we can see just how conservative my numbers were. I do expect to see the changes being released earlier that year as it will be an option for insurance companies to poach new customers from those giving voice to higher than expected premiums.

So even as we were given “AXA had upgraded its administration so that information on the number of tall buildings it insures or the type of cladding they are using is more easily available, helping to identify risks quickly“, as well as “Zurich Municipal would work with customers “to help them manage these exposures”“, the question is what exposure?

Is that exposure to the expected risk, or to the risk of getting exposed to upgraded premiums?

 

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How to design a death trap

The Grenfell inquiry is still going on and the last testimony from Dr Barbara Lane is not just an eye opener, it shows two elemental parts. The first is that the ‘stay put’ scenario could never have worked, the second one is that the cladding itself had the additional issue of getting set against combustible materials. That does not make the person who decided on the cladding innocent, it merely proves that the people behind it all failed in spectacular ways. The first part given is “Styrofoam core panels were installed between the new windows and around kitchen vents; ethylene propylene diene terpolymer was used around the new window frames; and polyurethane expanding foam was used to fill joints in the insulation and in gaps between new windows and walls – all combustible materials. She also found combustible polymeric foam above some windows, even though there was no evidence of it being specified, and polyisocyanurate foam that was not in the design” This states that not only was there more combustible materials, there was additional combustible materials that were not even part of the design. So someone acted, someone approved those additional costs. Then we get the first killer. With “horizontal cavity barriers designed to stop fire spreading through the facade had wrongly been installed vertically. They feature an intumescent strip that is meant to expand and close the gap during a fire, but some of these barriers were installed facing into the existing concrete, rendering them useless. She said some of the required cavity barriers had simply not been installed around windows“, we see not merely a construction error, a direct flaw on parts that would stop fires, or at least largely decrease the speed was done wrong and now we see that the building had ‘vent columns‘ to allow the fire to reach maximum speed. At this point, we have issues with procurement, with the installation and construction inspection. Optionally, the architectural setting was wrong, which gives us a failing on nearly every level from the council to the person telling the man with the drill what to do and where to do it. I think that this is a first for me, to see failing to this degree. The stay put was basically a death sentence in 30 minutes. It is the additional “more than 100 fire doors inside Grenfell did not meet fire regulations” that gives the light that the corridors would have been as deadly as the apartment to stay put in, in close to 30 minutes. She gives a few more points, but at this stage, what she gives out is that the killing blow would have been close to a given when those remained inside beyond the first 15 minutes. The article ends with “The same compartmentalisation strategy was essential for firefighting internally, which relied on a working firefighting lift, protected lobbies, ways of getting water up the buildings, a protected space between the firefighting stair and the flats. All of these failed to one degree or another“, now we see that Grenfell was a death-trap for tenants and firefighters alike, the fact that no firefighter died that day is a small miracle to say the least.

So in all this, when we consider the Telegraph article a day earlier (a clear reason for a second Leveson), we see a different side. The article job is a hatchet job by Hayley Dixon, a person who should not be allowed in journalism (a personal belief on mine due to this one article). So when we get back to the title ‘Grenfell survivors question why it took 15 minutes for firefighters to tackle initial blaze‘, and as Hayley Dixon published this at 21:30 local time the previous day. Was this the result of writers block? Was this a mere emotional writing of 104 words to meet a deadline requirement? If so, how irresponsible is the editor? When we put the Telegraph article next to the Independent, the Guardian and the testimony of Dr Barbara Lane, we are confronted with the emotional push of some kind? You see, the setting we see now, the videos that are online and the pictures clearly show that there was nothing normal about the fire and that Grenfell was a constructed death-trap in the shape of a Roman candle. Additional views (from the Independent) gave us “One survivor reported that building’s dry risers – vertical pipes used by firefighters to distribute water to multiple levels of a building – were not working“, so in all this, how was the Telegraph article not merely a waste of space and existence?

This entire fish gets another flavour when we consider an earlier BBC article (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40330789). In this we see “Four ministers – all from the Department for Communities and Local Government – received letters but did not strengthen the regulations. Ronnie King, a former chief fire officer who sits on the group, says the government has ignored repeated warnings about tower block safety. “We have spent four years saying ‘Listen, we have got the evidence, we’ve provided you with the evidence, there is clear public opinion towards this, you ought to move on this’,” said Mr King.”” we would expect that at least some move would be made and even as the cladding and other issues now showing would not have stopped anything, better regulations might have at least delayed enough for people to reconsider getting out. So who gets to be on the front page? Yes it is Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams – who was then a minister in the department – replied: “I have neither seen nor heard anything that would suggest that consideration of these specific potential changes is urgent and I am not willing to disrupt the work of this department by asking that these matters are brought forward“. This can be countered by the BBC (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40422922, where we see “London Fire Brigade warned all 33 councils about the potential risks of external cladding on tower blocks in May this year, the BBC has learned. It followed tests on panels from a high rise that suffered a fire last August. The insulation panels were made up of polystyrene and plywood, and tests concluded they were the likely cause of the fire spreading up the outside“, so there was clear evidence from May 2017 (after his ‘reign’), yet the issues had been clear put forward in 2014 when he was there. He remains in our sights when we realise that this had been going on since 2009, as it was highlighted at the coroner’s inquest into a fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell in 2009, which led to the deaths of six people, including three children. So at that point, the words of Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams become a statement of falsehood the moment he spoke them in 2014. When we hear ‘I am not willing to disrupt the work of this department by asking that these matters are brought forward‘, whilst there is a clear coroner’s inquest regarding 6 people, including 3 children, when did ‘disrupt the work of this department‘ become an accepted answer?

I am not sure if we could blame the London Fire Brigade from walking away in the future and let 100% of London burn down, you know, they would not want to ‘disrupt any department‘ by caring, now would they?

The fact is just slightly too dark when we consider that there was ample evidence up to 9 years before the Grenfell blaze. If there is one positive, we might see a change where councils need the office of Dany Cotton, or the office of her previous post where she was the Director of Safety and Assurance at the London Fire Brigade, to sign off on any refurbishment before allowing it to happen. It would optionally stop every council from seeking a ‘short cut’ to adhere to the wishes of rich investors. I am mentioning this, because it will have to be said again and again that the refurbishment and cladding was added “a low-cost way of improving the front of the building – was chosen in part so that the tower would look better when seen from the conservation areas and luxury flats that surround North Kensington, according to planning documents, as well as to insulate it” (source: The Independent). So as luxury flat owners nearby thought Grenfell was too yucky, it ended up being upgraded from apartment building to Roman candle.

I believe that the testimony of Dr Barbara Lane is one of the most damaging to the council, the constructors and decision makers in the refurbishment of Grenfell we have ever seen, the question will turn soon enough into: ‘how many death-traps are there in London?’ It is merely my personal view that there is a level of complacency to set the economic values of London in a way that might be way too dangerous for the people living there. If we see these issues in North Kensington and Chelsea, what would we find if there was an actual serious look at a council like Islington? The fact that Islington is overcrowded, it is growing in the sparkling area for socialites and professionals, so the visibility is high. Even as the London Metropolitan Police is working hard to lower the rising crime number, the impact of a Grenfell like event in Islington will do more than merely burn a building and the people in there. now, let’s also realise that Islington is nowhere near the worst, Also, the high rise situation seems a lot better, yet the overcrowded part seems to give ‘rise’ to other considerations and whilst we all focus on high rises, there are other ways for fires to propagate. Another reason to raise Islington is that so far its housing strategy (2014-2019) looks nice (as all brochures are), we also see that house prices are close to 50% higher than the London average, so the damage is a lot bigger if things do go pear shaped. I also raised it as I know it decently well, yet the brochure on page 29, who gives us all the acts and strategies and legislation gives no voice to the fire dangers. The Housing Act 2004 does give two mentions, ‘Consultation with fire and rescue authorities in certain cases‘ as well as ‘miscellaneous repeals etc. in relation to fire hazards‘, yet there is more. You see even as the brochure might look less sexy by mentioning an issue like: “Depending on the type of property and how it is occupied some or all of the following will apply:

  • the Building Regulations 2010 Part B
  • Housing Health & Safety Rating System
  • The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The issue we see with Grenfell is the lack of fire prevention focus, the Housing Strategy for Islington 2014-2019 shows that there is a mere reference to the Housing Act 2004, yet housing strategy is a lot larger towards tenancy and Asset management, and in a place as overcrowded as Islington it could become a problem. Now we understand that Grenfell is only a year old, yet there is additional evidence on several levels that this is an issue that had been going on since 2009, so even as we ‘brand’ Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams by his extremely poorly chosen words. He is not alone in not having a much larger fire safety focus. The question becomes if the councils were much stronger on fire prevention, would Grenfell have been prevented? My personal believe is that this would be an absolute certain. The failings that Dr Barbara Lane gave testimony on reflects the failing on nearly every level, so as more levels need to mandatory look at certain hazards, issues would have been brought to light (a personal belief), in this London (not just Kensington and Chelsea) have a much larger workload to content with and these changes would require a reflection on a multitude of levels in the coming year. Even as we accept that voices from Islington stated “Fire safety in Islington. We are the landlord/freeholder for over 35,000 households, and we take our responsibility for your safety very seriously“, we accept that this is a response to Grenfell, yet the housing strategy also shown that there was not enough focus in the past. One additional page in that brochure on certain (read: specific) hazards could have given light that the Islington council had that focus, we now merely see (read: expect) that this is not entirely the case.

London and a lot more metropolitan areas like London mind you will have to adjust their current course on actions and considerations when it comes to fire hazard, because we do not want the London population to wake up looking at the speculative sights shown below from a distance.

Rotterdam 1940

 

OR

Hawaii 2012

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This bull and a red flag

We all have issues that tend to work like a red flag on a bull. We all have them; there is not one exception to that rule. Whether this is good or bad is not a given, it differs for everyone. In my case it seems to be Grenfell. The level of unacceptability, the sheer levels of incompetence that were clearly visible a mere 10 minutes into reading the facts, the evidence and the presented documentations makes this entire situation beyond belief. So when I see ‘Fire brigade faces police inquiry over Grenfell ‘stay put‘ order‘, my nostrils start fuming steam, no kidding! Now, I get that the detectives have to investigate; it is not with them that I have the issue. I understand what needs to be done, yet my anger towards Det Supt Matt Bonner, who is leading the police investigation, will not subside soon. You see, I have seen apartment block fires, well one exactly. Across the street, early morning, I heard screaming, I saw smoke and then the windows frame and all exploded outwards. We stayed put (except those in the burning apartment and their neighbours), the fire was stopped soon thereafter. The issue is that all the tenants in the building were not underfoot for the fire brigade. It makes perfect sense, there was no immediate danger, so running outside when you are not in danger makes no sense. A nice old fashioned building from just past WW2. The damage was limited to the apartment and the charcoaling of the stones and window frames of the people one floor up. That was the damage. So when I see “whether the order could have breached health and safety law“, I am wondering whether Det Supt Matt Bonner is off his bloody rocker! OK, I get it, he has to do this, but when we see that certain parties signed off on the combustible cladding, and according to some sources in the inquiry with additional wrongful installation. I think that focussing on the combustible side is a lot more important than wasting time on the Fire Brigade who might not have been up to scrap on the information that combustible cladding was installed meant for buildings up to 12 meters high according to the Reynobond PE brochure, it states it in there clearly, it also states two parts that should have set the fire hazard warning lights in the heads of EVERY person directly involved in the decision making process of what to install in the Grenfell tower, so that the buildings around it had a better view (I likely will never get over that part of the equation). These levels of failure seen within the first hour, and the London Fire Brigade is treated to ‘the order could have breached health and safety law‘, there is something utterly unacceptable to that. In all this, the council people involved, are any of them in Jail, or getting their nuts roasted in a training fire? We will just tell them to stay put, the fire brigade will be there to save THEM after lunch!

I reckon that this has not happened yet!

I understand the job that Det Supt Matt Bonner has, so when he gives us “The LFB would, as any other organisation involved, have an obligation to conduct their activity in a manner that doesn’t place people at risk. It doesn’t mean that at the moment they have or they haven’t, but that’s where the legislation is most likely to arise if that was an eventuality“, I get that he is doing his job and it is not a nice job to have in this particular part of the entire track, but we all have those moments. Yet, the setting that this is now set into the shackles of the legislation on health and safety law, whilst we see that the construction, unknown to the LFB at that moment was pretty much an actual Roman Candle is not something they were aware of or signed up for. I cannot find the legislation that sets a proper scope for members of the Fire Brigade (I am not saying it does not exist, merely that I could not find it). Yet when I look at the Fire and Rescue Service Operational guidance [attached], we see a few parts (at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/5914/2124406.pdf). Yet that document gave me the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004. So that is now out of the way, we see (not in the act): “Fire and Rescue Authorities must make arrangements for obtaining necessary information for the purposes of: extinguishing fire and protecting lives and property from fires in its area (Section 7); rescuing and protecting people from harm from road traffic accidents in its area (Section 8)“, this is important, because when we go back to the timeline, we see: ‘Emergency services received the first report of the fire at 00:54‘, it started on the fourth floor and the first Fire brigade teams arrived 6 minutes later (source: the Guardian). The first thing we learn is that firefighters had put out the fire in the flat within minutes. When the crew were leaving the building, they spotted flames rising up the exterior of the building. (source: the Independent), so (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-how-fire-spread-graphic-a7792661.html) we also see that the setting of stay put was sound, the initial fire was stopped, yet the flames had now gone from inside to outside (between the walls and the combustible cladding), at this point we get to ‘others were told by emergency services over the phone to put towels around doors and stay put until help arrived‘, who were still informed on the one apartment, not the Roman candle scenario. So academically there is clear logic to the setting. The next part is actually important, more important then you realise. The setting is in my personal opinion that the fire brigade was in the dark on what they faced and the scope they faced at the scene. With “A man on the 17th floor, who left his flat at 1.15am, said the fire had reached his window by the time he got out of the building“, this implies that it took 20 minutes for the fire to get from the 4th to the 17th floor. A utterly preposterous setting in any apartment building under normal condition, even under less than optimal condition this would never happen. We know that a room in any apartment can be ablaze in 3-5 minutes, considering that, the apartment itself it not yet ‘all’ in danger. I personally saw the training video for my firefighting accreditation (It’s a Marine Rescue thing). We also know that fire moves upwards, so even as the fire increases in speed and intensity, under normal conditions, it would have taken 5 minutes for any fire to move from the fourth floor to the fifth floor, yet within 6 minutes the initial fire was under attack and stopped. So now you need to realise that it was merely 00:01-00:03, when you realise that it took 12 minutes for the fire to grow from floor 4 to floor 17 that is the unnatural setting, it is pretty much unheard of. We can go with the fact that the fire was never stopped, but the initial stopping would have subsided heat and flammable material becomes a factor too. the fact that this fire was now out of control and in the end there were 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines on the scene. A setting so large, I have never seen any force actively that large on any one building in my life; these are merely a few elements in the setting that we should (respectfully mind you) hit Det Supt Matt Bonner over the head with. It is my personal belief that whoever signed of for the cladding, I do not care for what reason needs to be arrested and should be kept in jail until the entire investigation is completed. You see, I covered it in my article ‘Under cover questions‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/23/under-cover-questions/), where I also added the Reynobond PE brochure. Yet Arconic, the original source has now removed that brochure from their site, is that not interesting [attached]. Yet I kept a safe backup of the brochure, so we will have that. This gets me back to the page 5 information on the brochure “It’s perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high“. Now it is important to realise that I am not attacking Arconic, the brochure gives clear light and it is probably a very nice and affordable upgrade solution for small office buildings and modern houses, 40 feet, 12 metres, 3 floors. It makes sense that those that do not have the funds and basically are willing to run the smallest of risks are all fine. Grenfell was 800% larger, higher and in that regard it becomes a much larger risk and in equal regard that product should never have been selected for Grenfell. So who signed off on that part of the equation, because someone approved it. It is my belief that this person needs to get the 4th degree from Det Supt Matt Bonner, not the members from the London Fire Brigade (yes, he is only doing his job, I know!). That setting is still completely (read: largely) uncovered by the media at large. It is not about all the other parts, all the complications that the people behind the screens need to feel that they can get away from it, the simple clear one part that is shown. Who signed off on the use of Reynobond PE for THIS building, it is in my personal view that simple.

So when we see the one time when those exaggerated headlines from places like the Daily Mail are valid, we see ABC giving us (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-20/firefighters-hold-back-tears-at-grenfell-tower-fire-memorial/8633348), the setting ‘Video reveals disbelief of firefighters heading into ‘Towering Inferno’‘. So when you watch that video, also consider that these firefighters did not stop, they did not turn back, they all headed straight towards, and some into a roman candle. It might be a small miracle that none of the firefighters lost their lives. The video also showed that whilst the 39 fire engines were on route one filmed the setting where the entire building was already engulfed in flames. So whilst we are hearing the focus on the ‘stay put’, a proven logical, rational and acceptable order for high rise buildings, we need to consider how this could have gone out of control in less than 20 minutes, a setting (as far as I know) never seen before. So as you can see that the setting on the cladding is clearly given with mere common sense. we need to accept that Det Supt Matt Bonner is doing his job, yet from my point of view, the entire setting on looking at optional breaching of health and safety law, the London Fire Brigade is a lot lower on my list regarding the priority in looking on who did what wrong, there are several much higher on the list and perhaps I would not ever have chosen to question them at all. It might be the wrong call for several reasons and I accept that, yet the clear given setting that videos, photos and eye witness accounts give us, I would merely call the LFB in to buy them a beer and congratulate them for not getting themselves killed for working right next to a 67 meter Roman candle for up to 60 hours. Even as the fire was under control after 24 hours, it took another day and a half to fully stop the fires, that is never ever a normal fire, a fact that should be made open and public to a lot of people in the hope that they get angry enough to ask a few elementary questions and make sure that those who signed of on it answer them in front of dozen cameras and microphones.

So now we get back to the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, where we see in section 7, the part that I mentioned earlier, with one difference. You see the Fire and Rescue Service Operational guidance is missing one small part. We can agree that it is not an issue for the guidance, but when we see in section 7 part one ‘A fire and rescue authority must make provision for the purpose of extinguishing fires in its area, and protecting life and property in the event of fires in its area‘ we also need to see part 2 in all this. It is there where we see the smallest issue. We see: ‘In making provision under subsection (1) a fire and rescue authority must in particular secure the provision of the personnel, services and equipment necessary efficiently to meet all normal requirements‘, there is more, but this already covers it with the setting of ‘normal requirements‘. I hope we can all agree that there was nothing normal about the Grenfell tower fire. Should we bother to look at part d where we see ‘make arrangements for obtaining information needed for the purpose mentioned in subsection (1)’ as well as part e where we also see ‘make arrangements for ensuring that reasonable steps are taken to prevent or limit damage to property resulting from action taken for the purpose mentioned in subsection (1)‘ we are shown that neither point would have been possible to adhere to, 39 fire engines and 250 London firefighters. None of them would have been alerted by anyone that they were dealing with combustible cladding, they would have realised when they got there, but by then it was far too late to get anyone out alive. An abnormal setting in a place where normality seemingly was thrown out of any window when refurbishment choices were made, a view we get from the Guardian with “But fire-resistant cladding would have raised the cost for the whole building by an estimated £5,000“, a mere £70 per life lost. So when you follow the enquiry (at https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/evidence), I will be most curious to see what Arconic will have to say, you see, even as they (as far as I can tell) had done nothing wrong, the question remains whether the Arconic sales team knew all the facts on the sale of Reynobond PE, you see a building the size of Grenfell needs a lot of panels and when we consider the brochure, ref flags should have appeared in the mind of the salesperson (optionally). When we do look at the opening statement document from Arconic, we get :

  1. The material supplied by the Company for use at Grenfell Tower comprised the following:

(a) Reynobond 55 PE 4mm Smoke Silver Mem) lie E9107S DO 5000 Washcoat — the Arconic order acknowledgements and associated CEP purchase orders confirm the total area of this product purchased for Grenfell Tower as 6586 m2(note that this product was supplied in five different lengths and three different widths); and

(b) Reynobond 55 PE 4mm Pure White A91 10S DG 5000 Washcoat — the Arconic order acknowledgement and associate CEP purchase order confirms the total area of this product purchased for Grenfell Tower was 1 80m2.

  1. In 2015 the translucent ACM PE core was substituted with a carbon black core. This was achieved by adding a small amount of carbon black material to the existing core, which provided greater UV protection for the core at exposed panel edges. The change was not related to fire performance.

So, would carbon be an issue? Now, I am not a firefighter, so I am a little out of my depth here, yet when we look at the thermal conductivity of materials and we see:

MATERIAL CONDUCTIVITY DENSITY
Aluminium 210 2.71
Graphite (pyrolytic, some planes) 300-1500 1.3-1.95
Graphene (theoretical) 5020 n/a
Carbon Nanotube (theoretical) 3500 N/A
Carbon Fiber 21-180 1.78
High Modulus MP Mesophase Pitch Carbon Fiber in fiber direction 500 1.7

So for the most, heat conductivity goes up by a lot when carbon is introduced. I am not accusing of Arconic of doing anything wrong, merely that as UV protection went up, so did the heat conductivity as my personal consideration speculates (a clear assumption from my side at this point). The fact that this happened in 2015 long before the refurbishment, we see an additional danger factor. Even as Reynobond PE was never an acceptable solution according to their own brochure, the fact that over 6500 square meters of the stuff was ordered, did no one question the maximum 12 metres part?

So again we get to the part, who approved the installation of well over 6500 square meters of combustible material turning a high rise building into a 67 meter Roman candle?

I might be the bull and Grenfell is the red flag enraging me to the core, I accept that, I merely wonder why not more people apart from the family of victims are not equally enraged. Part of that makes no sense to me at all, because the next building might have you, your children, your grandchildren or other family members in them.

How would you feel then?

 

 

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The Update

This is not about specifics; this is about the latest updates on a few sides. First we get back to ‘The successful and the less so‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/04/26/the-successful-and-the-less-so/). We had the rundown on the Marvel movies and Spielberg’s Ready Player One. My view remains the same, the three movies were awesome and there is no denying that. What is however a shift is the impact that the Avengers: Infinity War had, I knew it was going to be big, but a 3 day global total up to April 29th of $640,000,000 (rounded down) is beyond what I would have ever expected (read: imagined). The total revenue of Ready Player One was surpassed in 3 days with 20% to boot. It will get worse (depending on your point of view). You see, I am hearing all around me that people want to see it again. There was so much to see. So not only will it surpass the one billion dollar marker in a 10 day stretch, the revenue of Infinity war on 4K and Blu-ray will surpass most records to date. It could even spell a drive for people to look for a 4K TV and a HD 4K player merely for this movie alone. So if there is a Christmas release planned, it will likely be a $999 deal for the 4K TV, the 4K Player and the movie, all neatly gift wrapped. Those who do not have a 4K TV at that time might leap at the option offered. Techspot gave us “the movie’s Sunday box office performance – Infinity War reportedly raked in a whopping $69.2 million, breaking yet another domestic record“, implying in part that the movie is set to break the records that the number 3 top placed movie has, as Infinity war is likely to surpass it. I don’t think that it will make the current number three sad, it took three years for a movie to do that and records were always meant to be broken at some point.

The second update is on ‘Flames of the blame game‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/04/27/flames-of-the-blame-game/), you see, the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/c532579a-416d-11e8-803a-295c97e6fd0b) has an issue with data sharing and the Kensington and Chelsea council has been fined £120,000. Now we can have all kinds of thoughts yet the quote “the perception that a large number of properties were left unoccupied by wealthy foreign owners — provoked greater scrutiny of the borough’s housing situation amid calls for empty homes to be used to house evacuees, and criticism of the approach of the Conservative-run council to public housing provision and maintenance” implies that there is a much larger issue in Kensington and Chelsea and that certain steps are being taken. They got an opening to make a shift and the Grenfell disaster gave them an option. The interesting part is that this goes back to 2017. The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/aug/02/revelations-about-empty-homes-in-grenfell-area-simply-unacceptable) reported “Labour has condemned as “simply unacceptable” the 1,652 unoccupied properties in the London borough where the Grenfell Tower fire took place, calling for government action to bring them back into use“, which is as I see it, hypocrisy at best. You see the previous Labour government under Tony Blair was very eager to call in the investors, yet down the line no one wants to pay for the fallout. This did not start recently, this has been going on since the late 90’s, the EU reported in a paper  (at http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/events/2003/workshop/woodetal.pdf) by Forrest Capie, Geoffrey Wood and Frank Sensenbrenner by the City University, London: “confirmation is provided by the complete absence from mainstream political discourse is the notion that “multinationals” have somehow taken over, or impeded the actions of, national government. All this exemplifies, we conjecture, the relaxed attitude of a major foreign investor. At least at present levels, no-one much worries about “who owns” British industry, so long as British residents have savings somewhere. Foreign ownership is a non-issue in Britain“, a non-issue? Really? This was given in February 2003, so this has been going on for a while and yes the short term gain was clearly seen, millions upon millions, yet the long term play starting 5 years ago, when we see that 1650 unoccupied properties in one council alone is costing the infrastructure, 1650 households not needing energy, not needing food, not needing services, so those services in place is one thing, the fact that this group should be supporting half a dozen shop chains is now off the table. The UK did this to them self when they forgot basic math. So when we learn the setting of ‘a man’s home is his castle‘ and ‘trespass is actionable per se’, we see that these people have painted themselves in a corner. So even when we saw last year “London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said he would make proposals this year to find a more effective way to tackle the issue” he basically doesn’t have a leg to stand on and now the council might have given it to the press, so that the journalists, in the light of the Grenfell disaster can up the ante by emotional reporting, and it only costs the council £120,000 to allegedly start using the press as a tool of convenience. This allegedly setting is seen in the Financial Times quote ““at the time of the security breach, the feeling of social inequality was running high in this wealthy borough. Such disclosures therefore required guidance and oversight,” the ICO said“, it seems to me that someone decided to play judge and jury on a setting that the government, especially the previous Labour government enabled in the first place. It is not a fluke; there is a whole range of insurances that are covering this. UKinsuranceNET is merely one of many examples. Most are immediately covered by ‘Owner is working away‘, ‘Non-UK residents are accepted‘ as well as:

  • Ensure that you have a friend or family member inspect the property regularly. A minor continual escape of water left for a period of months can devastate a property. This is why escape of water is not usually covered with unoccupied insurance policies without terms and conditions applying.
  • Home emergency cover, should a plumbing or electrical fault occur the person who is looking after your house will appreciate this. Remember standard home insurance will not provide cover as extensive as an unoccupied insurance policy.
  • Speak to your local council; you may be eligible for a reduction in your council tax.

So there is not just an issue, it is a much larger market, you see Huw Evans director general of the Association of British Insurers could have told them that when he had that large issue on the Grenfell building when he was talking about inadequate fire testing.

Yet in all this, these people will not learn. Now, I will accept that Mayor Sadiq Khan cannot be blamed in any way for the latest issue, oh yes, you see with: “London Mayor Sadiq Khan has already given his approval for the scheme“, yet the clarity (that in a very rare instance, the Sun brought), by giving us “Chelsea stadium plans hit by £1b sale of England home to Fulham and NFL owner Shahid Khan“, so even as we accept that ‘Shad Khan, is a Pakistani-American billionaire and business tycoon. He is the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League‘, he is still a foreign investor and whatever happens next (besides the setting that if the sale goes through), billionaires tend to be modestly serious people and spending £1,000,000,000 on a building implies he can do with it what he wants. If he wants to turn it into a fabulous new Mosque (merely a speculative thought), there might be little to stop him. You can’t play your games on whining games regarding empty house penalties, whilst you are willingly, knowingly selling to a foreign investor. It seems that the slippery legislative slope they put themselves on could be the start of a lot more court proceedings and when you have a large number, followed by 9 zero’s and only after that a decimal point, you could hire 5 lawyers and give them one clear job description: ‘rain proceedings on these councils‘ and you’ll get £400 an hour for as long as you can do that. It could lock a council in legal proceedings for decades. Now that is merely my speculation, but there is a precedent. The ICBA reported a variant in 2016 with “Unlike the patent troll problem that ICBA fought all the way through Congress, however, this new crop of law firms is relying not on flimsy patent claims, but on detailed arguments that are already making headway in the courts“, when you consider that part, how vulnerable would any council or borough be? A dozen cases per council would lock up their legal division for up to two years at least. It ends up that close to nothing could be achieved. Now this is all merely speculation, but it is not that far-fetched with the Guardian reporting on “The number of solicitors qualified to work in England and Wales has rocketed over the past 30 years, according to new figures from the Law Society. The number holding certificates – which excludes retired lawyers and those no longer following a legal career – are at nearly 118,000“, so with 118,000 of them having hungry mouths to feed and the need to get revenue, do you still think that my view is far-fetched?

The Grenfell disaster is making all kinds of issues a lot more visible, one of them has been not to rely on foreign investors and their impact to such an extent, it has been an issue for close to well over a decade and not these birds have gone home (outside the UK) to roost, or is that to roast in the sunny sun at a tropical beach?

So in this, when I saw John Healey, Labour’s shadow housing minister state ““there were about 200,000 long-term vacant homes around the country, “including those bought and left empty by speculative investors”“, as well as “Labour would allow councils to charge a 300% empty-homes premium on properties that have been empty for more than a year and ask them to prepare empty-homes strategies to bring homes back into use in each area. We would also reverse the Conservatives’ weakening of councils’ powers to introduce empty dwelling management orders to bring homes back into use“, at what point would he also state that the previous government under Tony Blair got much (if not most) of  that damage done by opening the flood doors of foreign investors? In this, the end is nowhere in sight and even the councils realise that they are fighting an uphill battle against foundational legislation as the UK has had it for generations. It was part of the sales pitch that sold it so well, unravelling that would end up being devastating to the UK economy and these players know that (read: should truly be aware of the hazards) very well.

In finality there is the update on ‘Ferrari Mario (2018)‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/04/28/ferrari-mario-2018/). This is a larger one, because Phil Spencer according to several sources is setting the stage that Microsoft is having its own JRPG on the Xbox One. This is not something to sneer at. In one set of minds it is almost ludicrous and suicidal to go that way, but it is not anyone making that play, this comes from Phil Spencer and he knows games. So there is a play and it is about to be made. Now JRPG games tend to be a real game changer, it is a niche market that has a massive following. If Microsoft pulls that off, it would be such a blow to gaming (to their benefit), one that no one saw coming to that degree, this is the kind of victory shot that Microsoft desperately needs and if they do pull it off it will be a massive one! With that one ‘rumour’, one that came in several ways from Phil Spencer, towards several medium we see that Microsoft is starting to fight back, they will still take massive damage over the coming year but as to the options that limits deadly damage to the Xbox console this is certainly one that will have a large positive impact for Microsoft. Now, I refuse to go into the ‘what if it is a bad game‘ shot, because in the first I haven’t seen it, we will in 5 weeks see either something playable or a serious trailer/teaser that could bring the house down. In the second because JRPG are a vast setting of options and they are not all alike, what is a given is that when it does come it needs to be on a level of excellence that the JRPG fan expects, in story, in user experience, in graphics and atmosphere, to pull it off outside of ‘excellence driven Japan‘ has never been seen as an option, so the pressure will be on for Microsoft. If they do, then it will be one of three essential niche victories they will need, not to stop Nintendo, because that is a lost race. What will matter that three to four of these games would allow Microsoft to optionally regain the number two spot in the future, yet my personal forecast (speculative prediction is more accurate) is that they will need 3-4 of these games to be released in the next 18 months to pull that off, if they haven’t started on the additional 2-3 games at present, they might be too late, but let’s wait to see what the E3 brings before locking that gate, it is only fair that Microsoft gets that option to present that to us.

Three updates that needed to be made as the issues I talked about earlier are getting more traction and they are showing us the change that will come, even as the hearing into Grenfell aren’t seen for close to a month, the media is looking at many sides, many issues and Grenfell will be pulled into every emotional issue these politicians need, Jeremy Corbyn seems to live off that vibe, even as his co-players are not that enthusiastic to mention the previous Labour blunders that caused some of the damage we are seeing now.

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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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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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