TOWER BLOCK SAFETY FEARS

Lib Dem campaigner Bob Sullivan

Following the disaster in West London, former long-serving Liberal Democrat Councillor Bob Sullivan contacted the Council to confirm that they are preparing to look the tower and high rise blocks in Waltham Forest and review the planning permissions already given to developers.

This review should include checking the cladding, fascias and building materials used and planned to be used.

It would seem from discussions in the media that many tower blocks built, and being built, may have cladding and other materials that are not completely fire proof.

Waltham Forest Guardian reporter Tom Barnes followed up Bob Sullivan’s request with the following report on the online version of the Guardian:

TOWER BLOCK FEARS: Waltham Forest council won’t tell us if its flats have sprinklers after Grenfell Tower fire

Concerns have been raised over the safety of Waltham Forest’s high-rise buildings in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Campaigner Bob Sullivan is calling for a full review into fire safety at tower blocks in the borough after the blaze in west London last week, which is thought to have killed at least 79 people.

The Liberal Democrat activist and former councillor wants a probe to ensure residents in council-owned and private blocks are not as risk, as well as reviews at towers currently under construction.

Mr Sullivan said:

It is imperative that the planning permission for new blocks being built is gone over again, we need to make sure.

I have not seen anyone mention sprinklers, you would have thought it would be 100 per cent certain we should have them now.

I would have thought nobody would move into any tower block now without asking questions, I certainly wouldn’t.

I am hoping the council decides to review tower block safety, I am very concerned about Waltham Forest and we should be on the forefront of this.

We need action to do something about every block above six or eight storeys, I would even class those types of buildings as a small tower blocks.

Although several council-owned towers, such as Redwood and Hornbeam Towers in Leytonstone, have been demolished in recent years, some, like John Walsh and Fred Wigg Towers, remain standing.

A host of plans for new high-rise blocks have also been approved, including a 16-storey block in Dunedin Road, Leyton, and four blocks between 10 and 16 flights in Wickford Way, Walthamstow.

Campaigner Bob Sullivan wants action to ensure tower block safety

The catastrophic fire at 24-storey Grenfell Tower, in North Kensington, broke out at around 1am last Wednesday (June 14) and is likely to become Britain’s deadliest blaze in more than a century.

The speed at which the fire spread is believed to have aided by new cladding fitted to the building, while sprinklers had not been fitted inside the flats, despite calls from residents.

Waltham Forest council says no blocks in the borough use the same cladding as was installed at Grenfell and all high rise homes either have fire risk assessments in place or currently underway.

The local authority also confirmed sprinklers will be installed at the 10-storey Lea Bridge House hostel redevelopment in Leyton.

However, the council has not responded to requests by the Guardian to reveal how many of its blocks are fitted with sprinkler systems.

Council leader, Clare Coghill, said:

All of us were horrified to see the tragic events unfold at Grenfell Tower. Our thoughts and sympathies are with those affected by this terrible disaster. 

We understand that residents of Waltham Forest will be shocked following this incident, and concerned about the safety of their own homes and properties.

We want to let residents know that their safety is always our main concern.

We are looking at what further checks may be needed in the light of recent events.

We will work with the fire brigade and our colleagues across London to implement any changes recommended after this terrible fire.

 

Tom Barnes posted an update on 22nd June:

Waltham Forest council confirms no sprinkler systems have been fitted in any of its tower blocks

Fred Wigg and John Walsh Towers

John Walsh and Fred Wigg Towers in Leytonstone are owned by Waltham Forest council

No council-owned tower blocks in Waltham Forest are currently fitted with sprinkler systems, it has been confirmed.

Concerns have been raised over safety at high-rise blocks in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in Kensington last week, which is now thought to have killed at least 79 people.

The speed at which the fire spread is believed to have aided by new cladding fitted to the building, while sprinklers had not been fitted inside the flats, despite calls from residents.

Do you live in one of the council blocks? Get in touch by e-mailing thomas.barnes@london.newsquest.co.uk or call 07795507440

Waltham Forest council has now confirmed to the Guardian none of its blocks are currently fitted with sprinkler systems.

However, the local authority said it planned to fit sprinklers in three towers used for sheltered accommodation.

A spokesman said:

Although none of our council blocks have sprinklers fitted, we have secured funding from the London Fire Brigade to install sprinklers in three sheltered blocks this year.

Although several council-owned towers, such as Redwood and Hornbeam Towers in Leytonstone, have been demolished in recent years, some, like John Walsh and Fred Wigg Towers, remain standing.

A host of plans for new high-rise blocks have also been approved, including a 16-storey block in Dunedin Road, Leyton, and four blocks between 10 and 16 flights in Wickford Way, Walthamstow.

The catastrophic fire at 24-storey Grenfell Tower is likely to become Britain’s deadliest blaze in more than a century

NEWS RELEASE: Widow’s Pension Cuts: Cruel and Unnecessary

The Widow’s Pension is designed to help create security and safety for families when they lose a loved one. But this week it is under attack from a new wave of Government cuts. With less money being paid to widows, widowers and surviving civil partners from April 2017 onward.

The changes will only effect those families who lose a loved one after April 6th 2017.

The new rules will add pressure to families when they’re struggling most. Families who’ve just lost a parent are learning to cope on a single income and with one fewer parent. The previous system helped to ease the financial stress with a ‘parachute payment’ which is now greatly decreased.

Families with a terminally ill parent are facing the worst of it, with many having planned for life under the old system now having to look again at the support they can offer to their children or loved ones.

If you want the Government to change its mind and reverse cuts to bereavement benefits, then please share this article with friends and family.

If these changes effect you, friends or family you should visit www.turn2us.org.uk to get support and help.

SHOCK FOR SCHOOLS AND PARENTS

Local schools to lose millions as budgets slashed

Local Liberal Democrats are fighting against school funding cuts in Waltham Forest. Recent figures from the National Union of Teachers show that schools in Waltham Forest will lose £20,185,760 in real terms by 2020. This amounts to a loss of £538 a year for each child, – the equivalent to cutting 541 teachers from our local schools.

The teaching unions have compiled a list of anticipated budget reductions by 2019, access School Budget Reductions.

Veteran former Lib Dem councillor Bob Sullivan said,

This is crazy.  It is putting our children’s future at risk.  As a result of the Government cuts schools are having to consider drastic budget reductions such as reducing the number of teachers and, would you believe it, even introducing a four-day week.

Bob and the local Lib Dems are calling on the Government to reverse these cuts to schools funding. The local Lib Dem Team are in contact with schools to better understand their funding problems and will be fighting hard for our local schools.

Please sign our petition here http://www.walthamforestlibdems.org/save_our_schools

SAVE OUR LOCAL PHARMACIES!

Save Our Local Pharmacies Campaign

Local pharmacies under threat from the latest Conservative cuts to the national health budget.
This Government’s real terms cash cuts to pharmacies across the UK could be about to take their toll. The Lib Dems don’t as yet know what pharmacy used by hundreds of local people is facing closure, cutting off lifeline services for many elderly and vulnerable residents.

Local Campaigner Bob Sullivan says,

For many people the trip to get vital medicines from the pharmacy is long enough already.

Cutting money to local pharmacies is nothing more than robbing Peter to pay Paul. It will only increase the strain on hospitals and GP’s practices at a time when the NHS is already in enough trouble.

The £170million reduction in NHS funding for community pharmacies will put pharmacies across Waltham Forest out of business too.

Local community pharmacies are vital to keep older frail people independent. These people need to be at the heart of our community, on our high streets, with people. In the community rather than in our hospitals.

You can sign our petition here and join hundreds of local people who are already backing the campaign.

DUSTBIN COLLECTIONS OVER CHRISTMAS

Christmas service changes

The Council has advised that refuse/recycling collections will be one day later than usual for the week after Christmas.

Regular scheduled collection day Changed collection day
Monday 26 December Tuesday 27 December
Tuesday 27 December Wednesday 28 December
Wednesday 28 December Thursday 29 December
Thursday 29 December Friday 30 December
Friday 30 December Saturday 31 December

HOW HIGH CAN WE ALLOW DEVELOPERS TO BUILD?

Focus has previously reported on the massive high rise flat developments in Waltham Forest.

Forest Ward Focus Team members were with residents at the Planning Committee when the Council agreed the over development of buildings, of up to 18 storeys, in Lea Bridge Road.

Only recently Leyton Focus Team member Bob Sullivan and residents spoke against the 16 storey block at the end of Dunedin Road.

It appears that developers are having a field day as the Council continually agree the building of unaffordable multi high rise flats in the borough.

The latest plan submitted by the owners of the Mall shopping centre in Walthamstow is to build four blocks including one of 27 storeys!  Currently local residents have presented a 2,000 plus petition to the Council in protest against the plans. If you would like to support the local residents then contact ‘Save Walthamstow Town Centre’ on line: SAVE OUR TOWN CENTRE

Focus says:  In our experience the Labour Council never listens to residents and carries on agreeing the over development of every bit of land for multi high rise unaffordable flats.

LIB DEMS CALL FOR IMPROVED SAFETY MEASURES

Redbridge Cllr Gwyneth Deakins with London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon outside the Assembly Building

CAMPAIGNERS have submitted a petition they hope will address “critical” safety issues at one of London’s most notorious traffic hotspots.

Roding ward Cllr Gwyneth Deakins met with her Liberal Democrat colleague Caroline Pidgeon at City Hall on July 26 to hand over her petition to improve safety measures at Charlie Brown’s Roundabout in South Woodford.

As chairman of the London Assembly’s transport committee, Cllr Deakins is hopeful Ms Pidgeon’s input will finally mean better safety at the notorious A406/M11 junction, which has seen resident complaints for over 20 years.

She said:

The 1970s infrastructure of the junction just isn’t good enough – it can’t cope with the volume and speed of 21st century traffic.

There are accidents there all the time and every time I see a cyclist cross it fills me with complete dread.

Transport for London say they are going to do something, but when we were in the same position eight years ago, the then-Mayor Boris Johnson dropped the plans.

The petition, which has collected over 500 signatures online and by post, calls for more pedestrian and cycling crossings and possible changes in traffic signalling.

Cllr Deakins added that the planned expansion of Nightingale Primary School in Ashbourne Avenue and numerous housing estates due to be built in South Woodford as part of the Redbridge Local Plan make swift action “critically important”.

More and more kids have to use Charlie Brown’s to get to schools like Oakdale, Beal, Woodbridge and Nightingale, so no action is putting their safety at risk.

The W14 also regularly drops families and elderly people off at the junction, who if they chose not to get a connecting bus, are left to fend for themselves crossing the road.

And with all the housing developments proposed for South Woodford in the Local Plan, it’s critically important improved safety measures are implemented as soon as possible.

Redbridge Council supported Cllr Deakins’ motion to commit to improving connectivity between proposed housing developments near the roundabout as part of the its 2015-2030.

London Assembly member for Havering and Redbridge Keith Prince said he was happy to back the petition.

As Assembly Member and deputy Chairman of the Transport Committee at City Hall I am happy to take up this issue.

I use the junction on a regular basis so I know it can be a bit of a nightmare for pedestrians, and it’s not much fun for drivers and cyclists either, as it’s so hazardous.

I agree that something needs to be done.

The petition, which can be viewed online, will be formally handed to London Mayor Sadiq Khan next month.

His office has been contacted for comment.

OLYMPIC PARK – SO MUCH FOR LEGACY!!

Last year a planning application was submitted for the creation of London’s largest concrete and asphalt factory – right at the centre of the Olympic Park, and in the middle of a dense residential area.

This development would have a dramatic impact on the local area and residents, creating 3 concrete batching plants and an Asphalt production plant adjacent to a heavily used green space.

The proposed plants, which will be next door to London Athletics and the new UCL East campus, are to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with an estimated 900 heavy vehicles coming and going daily.

This will create an industrial blight on the area by introducing significant air, dust and noise pollution to what is otherwise a fast regenerating part of the city.

The planning applications have been submitted as four (4) wholly independent operations, without consideration given to their cumulative effects on an area now defined by new residential communities, pedestrian and cycling routes, recreational zones and athletics venues. There is a serious risk that hazardous chemical dust from concrete and asphalt manufacturing activities and associated vehicle fumes will raise air pollution to dangerous levels, resulting in asthma and other respiratory issues for the populations of Newham, Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

The full applications can be found on LLDC’s planning website at http://planningregister.londonlegacy.co.uk/swift/apas/run/wphappcriteria.display : PA Refs: 15/00368/FUL / 15/00400/FUL / 15/00414/FUL / 16/00194/SCRES].

The proposal is scheduled for review before the London Legacy Development Corporation’s (LLDC) planning committee as early as September 27th 2016. The LLDC was given special powers and a remit directly from the Mayor’s office to manage the Olympic Park area regeneration beyond 2012.

The LLDC is not directly accountable to local residents in the same way that the councils of Newham, Tower Hamlets or Hackney are. Consequently, the decision making of the LLDC will not always be in the interests of local residents. And it is the LLDC alone that has the final decision on whether this concrete batching development goes ahead.

The proposal of the concrete works is completely incompatible with the Mayor’s office ‘Clean Air for London Policy‘ or the current direction of residential and other developments planned for the area.

In order to protect the integrity and future development of the community, it is of paramount importance that a concerted effort be made by local residents and businesses to oppose this planning proposal NOW.

Please sign the petition today.

HALE END LIBRARY THREATENED WITH DESTRUCTION

Hale End Library threatened with demolition and more flats in its place

Issue number 133 of the Hale End and Highams Park ward FOCUS Newsletter leads with the news that Hale End Library is threatened with destruction by Waltham Forest’s Labour-controlled Council.

Local residents have been shocked to learn that the Council is planning to demolish Hale End library to use for housing.  The Council wants to make the library smaller by moving it to rented units from Tesco’s.

The Council’s usual response when they want to close a library is to say it is too large and is not well used by local people.  The same excuse was said when they closed the very popular Harrow Green Library in Leytonstone.  Residents are angry that their local library, the last civic building in Highams Park, is likely to be turned into a block of flats.  Residents are angry and have already set up a petition online.

Focus says:  Thousands was spent some years ago refurbishing Hale End library and to knock it down would be an act of vandalism.  If you agree with us please sign the petition. You can sign the residents’ online petition.

CHILCOT REPORT – Proud of my party for leading the way

Today is a day for reflection, as we consider the consequences of the fateful decision to go to war in Iraq.

Our first thoughts need to be with the families across the world who have grieved loved ones, experienced life-changing injuries, and witnessed destruction and despair often beyond description.

There is no justice that can compensate their loss, and today we have learned from the Chilcot Report what we all knew already in our hearts – it did not have to be this way.

Lib Dems were united in our opposition to war

For many members in my local party, the Iraq war was a genuine turning point.

Many others chose to join the Liberal Democrats when they saw Charles Kennedy step up to the challenge, in difficult times, and provide the strong, principled leadership our country so desperately needed.

In 2003, every Liberal Democrat MP voted AGAINST going to war in Iraq.

It was the right thing to do, and that has been proven again today. Sir John Chilcot’s report has shown that this was a war of choice, that options for a peaceful resolution still existed, and that our Prime Minister wilfully mislead parliament and the British people to march us into a war he had already decided to launch.

I was proud to see our leader Charles Kennedy refuse to compromise, despite enormous pressure and abuse pouring in from all sides, on the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to internationalism and respect for international law.

Charles Kennedy and Lynne Featherstone (Lib Dem MPs at the time) opposing the war

You can see Charles’ speeches below, he was a real example of principled leadership in a time of crisis. It is not just Liberal Democrats who are missing Charles today. Our whole country is all the poorer without him.

Finally, while Chilcot gives us the chance to reflect on past mistakes, we still have a duty to oppose the mistakes that our leaders are making today!

Right now, Britain risks cutting herself off from our most valuable allies and trading partners, putting millions of jobs at risk and doing massive harm to our economy. I’m proud of Tim Farron for showing equal determination and leadership to fight Brexit and put Britain back where we belong, at the heart of an open, tolerant, free, and prosperous Europe.

If you agreed with us in 2003, if you agree with us now in 2016 – it is time to join the party that is proudly and passionately fighting for the better future we all believe in.

P.S. You can see some great videos of Charles Kennedy’s speeches on Iraq in Parliament and at the anti-way rally in Hyde Park here (via Lib Dem Voice)