Tag Archives: Kensington Town Hall

Flames of the blame game

The Guardian gave us a story on Wednesday and it was a story. Now, we can argue that there are more than a few markers in place, So when we see “The British system for fire testing building materials is utterly inadequate and underestimates the ferocity and spread of real blazes, a study commissioned after the Grenfell Tower disaster has claimed“, that might be good and proper (still debatable), yet the part that seems to be skated over, the icing of denial so to say is the facts that I had were a given in June 2017. They were in the Reynobond PE brochure. It has two important messages. The first being ‘This test method measures flame growth on the underside of a horizontal test specimen, using the Steiner tunnel test‘, that is interesting as we know that cladding tends to go vertical, so why not do a vertical test? The second was “It’s perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high“, these two alone should have stopped the dangers in its track. A request for a vertical flame test for the Grenfell building, as well as the need for a written confirmation that Reynobond PE was in fact the acceptable option for this building. Merely the application of common sense in the entire matter and the article by Robert Booth should have reflected that. So when I get to read “But they fail to reflect how materials burn in the real world, according to a highly critical report published on Wednesday by the Association of British Insurers (ABI)“, I start wondering who the stooge is that is taking the heat for the massive blunders that got 71 people charcoaled. I saw that within 5 minutes whilst reading up on the basic facts on the matter that basic issues had been negated, or merely ignored. So it is not what the ABI is suddenly preaching on how systems were outdated, it was the mere application of common sense and the lack of it within the council (or is that the KCTMO) to sign off on these matters got 71 people murdered, because when we consider the absence of common sense, they are not people, or victims that were killed, they ended up being the collateral damage of a mass murder, that is how we should see it, and that is how I personally regard that to be. When we consider “a building is significantly more flammable than the British Standards Institution test BS8414 shows“. When we consider the Evening Standard in August 2017, where we see “Alison Saunders said that although investigations were at a “very early stage” gross negligence manslaughter was among the offences that prosecutors will consider if police find enough evidence“. The mere documents I found (product brochures), seem to hold that part of the evidence, unless proper fire testing was done and Raynobond had given a written guarantee that Raynobond PE would suffice for the additional 21 storeys, there is a first setting of evidence that ‘gross negligence manslaughterwould already be an option that seems to fit (for now). Yet the Guardian also had important goods on June 16th 2017. With company director, John Cowley stating “Omnis had been asked to supply Reynobond PE cladding, which is £2 cheaper per square metre than the alternative Reynobond FR, which stands for “fire resistant” to the companies that worked on refurbishing Grenfell Tower“, so as we move from Omnis Exteriors to Harley Facades, where was the council in all this? So when we see “the Fire Protection Association (FPA), an industry body, has been pushing for years for the government to make it a statutory requirement for local authorities and companies to use only fire-retardant material. Jim Glocking, technical director of the FPA, said it had “lobbied long and hard” for building regulations on the issue to be tightened, but nothing had happened“, we see that the law had been inadequate for a long time, yet in addition to this This against the latest article where we see “The BS8414 test is overseen by the BSI, a private company appointed by the government as the national standards body. The panel that drew up the rules for the test include representatives from the plastic foam insulation industry. The BRE, which carries out the tests, is the former government building research station that was privatised in 1997“.

You see, these two statements are the actual ballgame now. When we consider that: “as the UK’s National Standards Body, the BSI is also responsible for the UK publication, of international as well as European standards. BSI is obliged to adopt and publish all European Standards as identical British Standards (prefixed BS EN) and to withdraw pre-existing British Standards that are in conflict“, so when we accept that and also accept that “Frankfurt’s fire chief, Reinhard Ries, said he was appalled at the fire at Grenfell Tower and said tighter fire-safety rules for tower blocks in Germany meant that a similar incident could not happen there. US building codes also restrict the use of metal-composite panels without flame-retardant cores on buildings above 15 metres” a statement that the Guardian gave in June 2017, we see that there is a massive amount of systemic failures. With ‘withdraw pre-existing British Standards that are in conflict‘, there is an implication that whilst the BSI was ‘privatised’ it never ended up doing its job (a speculative assumption that seemingly holds water after reading several accounts). The massive requirement for much higher fire protection levels imply just that and in all this, people hid behind a veil of insecure assurances and in all this ignorance is not a defence, not by my standards and not in court.

So when we take a look at that fire test that the BSI has (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4KA8S4yLoI), I personally get the feeling that Raynobond PE was never properly tested in this way (or any way for that matter), not before the fire at least, so when we look at the mess of interactions, I wonder what it will take and that too was covered by the Guardian when we see the quote “Cressida Dick, said on Wednesday that detectives were a long way from passing files to the Crown Prosecution Service and that she had asked for extra government funding over several years to help cover the costs of the inquiry“, I think that it goes further than this, the entire sales trajectory, the entire consultancy path from deciding on the parts to be ordered and the implementation of it all shows to be a clear factor and all the documents give rise to a much larger problem. When we see the mere interaction that the BSI is claiming to have and what we get as response from Germany (a EU nation) implies that the foundation of fire protection is just not there. The statement by the Fire Protection Association (FPA) bears this out.

The final part is the impact of choice. ITV gave us “The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation – which managed and maintained the council’s housing stock – decided to put the contract back out to tender and Rydon ended up agreeing to take it on for £8.7 million“, which puts the KCTMO in the hot seat, almost literally. You see the cost cutting had influence on several fronts and there is no way that it was all personnel. They also gave us “On Thursday night Rydon repeated its assertion that all the refurbishment work carried out at Grenfell Tower met both building and fire regulation standards and was signed off by the council. Grenfell Tower was built in 1974. The refurbishment project was, in theory, an opportunity to retrofit the building with a sprinkler system but it wasn’t taken. I’m told the idea wasn’t even discussed“, so which ‘fire regulation standards‘ were signed off on and who signed off on it? As we see that there is a huge discrepancy on the fire regulations at all, we can make the assumption that the council, or their representatives will now need to rely on large levels of ‘miscommunication‘, to avoid having to stand in the dock. More important, there is a desperate need to get these documents collected and soon, before they accidently go missing through the use of ‘Miss Filing‘ and her alleged ability to conveniently place documents, that poor lady does get blamed too often for too many things, ain’t that the truth!

In this I will end with the setting that Huw Evans, the director general of the ABI opened. He gives us the quote: “This latest research is yet more evidence that fundamental reform is needed to keep our homes and commercial premises safe from fire. It is a matter of urgency that we create the right testing regime that properly replicates real world conditions and keeps pace with building innovation and modern design“, yet as the director general of the Association of British Insurers he should have been aware, clearly aware that is that the task of the BSI, The British Standards Institution is to ‘withdraw pre-existing British Standards that are in conflict‘, and with the quotes seen, as well as presented settings regarding the prohibition panelling which we got from Frankfurt’s fire chief, Reinhard Ries regarding ‘tighter fire-safety rules for tower blocks in Germany meant that a similar incident could not happen there‘, we need to wonder how cladding is set (if it is set) in Europe as per the European Committee for Standardization. Yet none of these spokespeople seems to make reference to that did they? That is the setting we see and we see it from several sources, which now gives the question in all this, what is Huw Evans actually targeting, because it is not merely the overhaul of BS8414. The mere lack of mention in the cladding process because when we see the mention of the Hackitt review (independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety by Dame Judith Hackitt, at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/668831/Independent_Review_of_Building_Regulations_and_Fire_Safety_web_accessible.pdf), that part is not merely showing parts of the entire matter to be a joke, the findings on page 67 of that report “Contributors believe products are marketed with specification data presented in ways which can easily be misinterpreted. Indeed, individual elements are often used as part of compound systems that are not fully tested as systems“, the findings I had from one brochure (Raynobond PE) shows that the cladding should never have been used in the first place. In addition on that same page we see “The standards of workmanship for the installation of some safety-critical products (e.g. cladding) is not made explicit in the Approved Documents“, which is odd to state the least, I get that it is in the report, yet the fact that the KCTMO might not have set minimal levels, whilst approving a party for £2.5 million less should have been foremost on their minds. In addition, the application of: ‘the Approved Documentsmight be valid, but it leaves me with a whole range of additional questions. Here is that report: Attached

And we need to consider on page 6 “I am aware that some building owners and landlords are waiting for direction from this review on what materials should be used to replace cladding that has been identified as inadequate“, shows that whilst the Europeans have settings for standards on fire prevention, the BSI has not set the target that high, even as we saw ‘withdraw pre-existing British Standards that are in conflict‘, giving us more questions regarding the BSI, as such it seems that the tenants are in a much more dire situation, because there is every chance that Huw Evans, the director general of the Association of British Insurers is all about the insurance part and what he sees so far could spell that the overall insurance of apartments in high rises are prone to larger insurance premium increases than one would usually expect and there is a precedent for Huw to do just that, even if we do not grant insurances any consideration in the most optimum of times, they do have the right to up the premium if the risk warrants it, so in that regard, well over 350 buildings are loaded with tenants that will see their premiums spike as per next year’s insurance bill, that is, if the ABI is willing to wait that long, because that is at present not a given. Not when you tailored yourself for the Financial Times interview on April 25th.

Even I had not predicted the Grenfell situation to be a mess so complete that one might actually wonder how anyone has any value regarding safety or quality, it seems that there are many tainted sides to all this and that just like the blogger who in 2013 got the Metro to give us (at http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/14/council-threatened-blogger-with-legal-action-over-grenfell-tower-warnings-6708453/) “A local blogger who highlighted the danger in Grenfell Tower was sent a legal letter by lawyers working for the local council – accusing him of defamation and harassment” as well as “The letter, which was allegedly sent in 2013, was sent by a solicitor working for Kensington Town Hall. The local group behind the blog alleged that there had been serious failings on fire safety“, this was published Wednesday 14th Jun 2017, whilst the letter was from 2013, if the Grenfell Action Group can produce that letter for the media, we have the partial evidence of a much larger issue, the issue that certain dangers were optionally, optionally because the refurbishments were not completed until 2016, an actual danger. If any of the elements of the blog are shown to be there at the night of the fire, we see more than a systemic failure, we see clear Kensington Council acts that were in place to minimise exposure of dangers. And in that I will state that it only holds grounds if the letter and the 2013 blog show elements that were a true fact after the fire. The mere fact that the council struck out to a blogger is an actual concern as well. This is not about freedom of speech, it is the fact on what was written, but I need both to ascertain whether the Metro had anything viable at that time.

With so many fingers in several pies and so many ‘considerations’ of the pastries that is set on a large table named Grenfell, there is the danger that any interaction and any connected evidence will delay official acts, investigations and proceedings more and more is now a serious consideration whether in the end prosecution of any party remains viable. It would upset so many players but the question is realistic enough and that is not a good thing, not in this time and place.

 

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Physical vs Virtual (part1)

The Guardian has two elements today; they are not connected, not in any way. Yet they are both important and they do connect in other ways and that part is actually a lot more important than you think, let’s take a look at part 1.

Physicality

To upset the reader, I will start with ‘On 14th June 2017 there was a clambake in North Kensington!‘ 71 people lost their lives and an almost equal number of people were seriously injured. I have written about it in previous blogs in both June and September 2017. It was renovated and that job was completed in 2016. Now, I can give you all the names, but the names actually do not matter at present, the issue of renovation was however more important. An interesting and slightly more important part is ‘the then housing Minister Gavin Barwell, refused requests for meetings‘, we will look at him later. You see there is an even larger issue, not the obvious ones, the ones I gave in June 2017 showing that there was published evidence that the entire choice of purchase was already a hazard by the selling company. No, it gets worse ‘Cladding added to Grenfell Tower to ‘improve view for nearby luxury flats’‘, this is what the Metro gave on June 14th 2017. Charles White had the scoop. We can also take the view “Grenfell Tower was built in 1974 and housed low-income families in Latimer Road, North Kensington“, so the cladding was added to make their presence less sickening to those around them. Well, as Roman candles go, those rich neighbours really had one ready for the victims of Grenfell didn’t they? In all this, and all the fuck ups that were saw, witnessed and in equal measure saw the media partially avoid, did no one see the brochure where we saw “It’s perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high“, the mere setting in the brochure and these highly paid individuals never bothered to ask the question and get on paper the certification for a 24 storey building? So how about the extension of 21 floors? It would be on top of my mind, but then I am not a graduated civil engineer. I merely don’t trust anyone trying to sell me ‘a great deal‘, not without proper investigation. So when I read ‘Leaseholders of flats face £40,000 bills over Grenfell type cladding‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/19/leaseholders-of-flats-face-40000-bills-over-grenfell-type-cladding). I wonder who should pay for all this, the luxury flat neighbours (implied that they pushed for a ‘better view’, they certainly got that whilst the fire brigades required 60 hours to fully stop the fires and close to 48 hours to remove the charcoal cadavers that used to be tenants in that building. Is this description upsetting you and making you angry? Good! I want you to be angry, because there is a systemic failure in the London boroughs when it comes to housing and it is still there. So whilst we see that Gavin might be all about ‘How to Win a Marginal Seat: My Year Fighting For My Political Life‘ and less about meeting with people who have genuine concerns on the safety of their lives, a person who was Minister for London as well as Minister of State for Housing and Planning seemed to have been in the middle of it all AFTER the renovation. So, even as his reign was flawed by not acting, we equally need to put Brandon Lewis, now the Chairman of the Conservative Party, as well as Kris Hopkins, who is now Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Northern Ireland Office in the spotlight. Even as Gavin has the gavel of dumbness, he was not there when it started and that has to be acknowledged in equal measure. The entire cladding issue is a mess from a civil, an engineering a political and a legal aspect. It is rare for something like that to fail on pretty much every level. That and a few other matters give rise to a much larger investigation, because if I can get angry and demand investigations into the EU gravy train, my anger on this mess needs to be even greater. And there is a growing number of pieces of evidence. With the ‘2009 Lakanal House fire, in Camberwell, South London, six died and at least twenty injured‘, the Guardian reported (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/24/southwark-council-admits-safety-failings-tower-block-lakanal-house-blaze), in February 2017, LONG BEFORE THE GRENFELL FIRE, reported ‘Southwark council pleads guilty over worst ever tower block fire‘, that alone should have pushed Gavin Barwell into action, yet there we see ehhh… nothing. There was a big nothing done, even a blogger who got told “The council had threatened the Grenfell Action Group with legal action in 2013 in a bid to prevent the group criticising the council, saying that such criticism amounted to “defamation and harassment”.” Again it is the Metro who gives us “The letter, which was allegedly sent in 2013, was sent by a solicitor working for Kensington Town Hall“, so can we please see the name of that solicitor published as well as the people he was representing? You see, that letter was in response from someone and we should be told who that someone was. In addition, me, myself, I and a whole range of people, including family members of the charcoaled tenants will have some loud questions for that person. In this we end up with even more questions as ‘Robert Black, the Chief Executive of KCTMO, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation responsible for managing Grenfell Tower on behalf of the council‘, which the Independent gave us is according to the Coventry Telegraph. You see, when we consider the mess already in place, and we accept that Retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick is the appointed legal person to lead the public inquiry. How can anyone accept “The board wishes to ensure that KCTMO remains best positioned to fully co-operate and assist with the inquiry and so it has agreed with its chief executive, Robert Black, that Mr Black should step aside from his role as chief executive of KCTMO in order that he can concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry“, in this the quote “The welfare of the residents of KCTMO remains the primary concern of the board” reads like a joke, 4 years of inaction, 4 years to miss what I saw in 5 minutes and three more facts of endangering the people living in Grenfell, which I found within the 30 minutes after that. In all this there is every chance that Robert Black is all about making sure that some questions are not asked and that some pieces of evidence are ‘not to be shown to the prosecution‘, the last part is merely speculation on my side, yet I wonder if anyone will be able to prove me wrong in the end.

So as we now get back to the other building where: “Residents of 80 flats whose freeholds are managed by a company owned by David Cameron’s half brother-in-law are each facing bills of up to £40,000 because the building is clad with flammable panels similar to those used on Grenfell Tower, in London“, I am less concerned who is a family member of who. I am more interested in the entire timeline on how cladding was chosen and how it was approved. If there is one clear timeline in evidence than it is the one where it is more and more clear that those connected to Grenfell were utterly incompetent, or they just didn’t know what they were doing. So even as all these boroughs will carry the weight of the Grenfell victims, we need to see the clear timeline for each building separately and in that Dominic Raab, the now Minister of State for Housing and Planning, is handed the nightmare scenario of a lifetime. Yet in all this, if he can pull through and improve the mess we are facing now, he won’t just meet with happy tears of joy from those around him, he could show that when true justice is found and that the matters are strong set in both legislation and borough procedure, there is every chance that his ascension as a future Prime Minister is not out of the question. For one man to show the failure of years of predecessors (with Alok Sharma being optionally acquitted to some extent in all this) there will be shouts of joy. I intentionally set Alok Sharma in that light because even as the surviving tenants of Grenfell have been failed in several ways, we need to be honest and fair and assess what resources Alok Sharma had available. I actually do not have those details or access to that data. As such I refuse to paint him in the same colours that his predecessors deserve. And the mess is still not over, that is seen (at https://www.lgcplus.com/services/housing/kensington-and-chelsea-too-slow-to-rehouse-grenfell-survivors/7023801.article) where we get the following parts all together making the mess even more severe.

  • Mr Raab said: “[There are] 208 households that require housing – of which, 59 have accepted temporary accommodation and 60 are in permanent accommodation.” That is up 16 since 25 January.
  • Ms Dent Coad said: “In November, we were told there were 209 displaced households, but I was given the true figures from the council’s housing department which was 376. “There’s just a total mismatch, originally we were told displaced people made homeless was 863 so these figures have been washed, let’s just put it like that.”
  • “There’s just a total mismatch, originally we were told displaced people made homeless was 863 so these figures have been washed, let’s just put it like that.” Housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid responded saying Ms Dent Coad’s statistics referred to the wider estate and not the Grenfell tower and walkway alone.

So we have Emma Dent Coad, the MP for Kensington, Dominic Raab, now Minister of State for Housing and Planning and Housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid needing to explain in the Local Government Chronicle that on one matter Emma Dent Coad and Dominic Raab cannot communicate in the same version of English, it merely is an exercise in miscommunication, and there is an issue of mistrust from the tenants? I am not at all surprised, merely surprised that a gang with pitchforks and torches have not moved in to deal with black magic and witchcraft, for such levels of miscommunication pretty much warrants that, especially if Robert Black ends up being related to the other Black family, something JK Rowling mentioned in some way in the recent past (that was a funny, for those who cannot read between the lines).

It is an almost intolerable mess and it seems that other buildings, especially the overreacting and not properly investigating management firms are now crying fowl (in the end someone has to be the Turkey in all this) and lashing the bills on anyone’s desk (allegedly) where they could possible pass the buck (read: £40,000). All this in a setting of physicality of events, paper trails that are either so murky that a team of barristers cannot decipher it and half-baked agreements where it is unclear if the tenants were ever properly informed. Finally in this matter there is Sir Martin Moore-Bick. That side is important when we see (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40491449), you see, I disagree. There is absolutely no case for “Labour’s Emma Dent Coad said Sir Martin Moore-Bick was “a technocrat” who lacked “credibility” with victims“, this is about the law. And someone like Emma Dent Coad, who got elected with a 0.05% margin (20 votes) with merely a degree from the Royal College of Art with an MA in History of Design has no real setting to judge on law does she? At least I myself do have two law degrees, one of them a master degree (they are Australian though) as well as a graduate degree in Internet working, so I am at least also technologically savvy. In addition the BBC piece gives us nothing more than the focus on one overturned case. I think that ignoring the 20 years as a judge of the Commercial Court and Court of Appeal warrants his appointment. The entire labour arsenal is all shouting to ‘connect’ to people, yet to properly investigate all matters; it is a step of legislation and logic, not emotion. Is there a better person to head the inquiry? I do not know, but in equal measure there is no evidence that he is the wrong person. In all as it comes to law and optional lack thereof, there is absolutely no evidence that Emma Dent Coad is qualified to be an MP; she was merely elected as Member of Parliament for Kensington. Sir Martin Moore-Bick is overly qualified as a judge, it is the distinction that makes the setting, and her ‘miscommunication‘ quoted earlier should give additional doubt to her point of view in all this.

 

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