Another LBWF fire safety cock up: now its housing management agent, Morgan Sindall, replaces flat entrance doors ‘in error’

Over the years, LBWF has gained a reputation for blunders, whether big, like recklessly exposing its own employees in the Town Hall to dangerous asbestos dust, or relatively small, like planning to spend £40,000’s worth of public money on an inappropriate and unwanted ‘artistic’ mural in Cann Hall.

What follows is a further example of this disreputable tradition.

As this blog has extensively reported, in 2017-18 LBWF installed 217 flat entrance doors (FEDs) at Walthamstow’s 21 floor Northwood Tower and four sheltered housing blocks, Boothby Court, Goddarts House, Holmcroft House, and Lime Court.

At the time, LBWF claimed that the new FEDs were rated FD60 (i.e., they gave 60 minutes protection in the event of a fire), but as it soon turned out, this was nonsense, and they were revealed to be fakes.

Cue an internal fraud investigation, litigation against a supplier, and a good deal of attempted obfuscation.

In the midst of this farrago, LBWF has continued to insist on one unambiguous fact: that because three of the fake FEDs were tested in 2019, and found to give at least 30 minutes protection, thus conforming to the Building Regulations’ statutory minimum, all of the 217 are safe, and so, regardless of any resident anxieties, do not need to be replaced.

But it now emerges from disclosed internal correspondence that in 2020 some of the 217 FEDs, those at Boothby Court, in fact were replaced.

LBWF is a bit confused here: it initially stated that 48 FEDs were involved, but subsequently has claimed that it made a mistake, and the real figure is 15 (though as Boothby Court has 33 flats, neither number makes much sense). 

Given LBWF’s previous insistence that any replacement was unnecessary, this admission itself is arresting.

More surprising still is LBWF’s attempt at an explanation. 

For it wishes us to believe, apparently in all seriousness, that the whole thing was a mistake – that Morgan Sindall, its housing management agent, which did the work on the ground at Boothby Court, acted ‘in error’, and as recompense is bearing the cost, said to be £32,538.00. 

Perhaps LBWF is telling the truth, and one fine day, acting on its own initiative, Morgan Sindall really did go out and buy a batch of FEDs, transport them to site, spend three or four further days (at least) installing them, clean up, and when the job was complete, present LBWF with an invoice…only to be told ‘Sorry, folks we are not paying you because we never asked for the work to be done in the first place’.

On the other hand, it’s quite possible that LBWF’s story is a confection aimed at diverting attention from something else, perhaps the hypothetical that the FEDs which were removed had been assessed, and found to be a type that failed at Grenfell.

Incompetent or sleazy?

Whatever the truth, LBWF’s reputation over fire safety takes a further sizeable hit.

Related Posts

LBWF’s flat entrance door scandal: an update on developments

LBWF and fire hazards in its housing stock: the appalling case of Northwood Tower in Walthamstow (1)

LBWF and fire hazards in its housing stock: the appalling case of Northwood Tower in Walthamstow (2)

LBWF and fire hazards in its housing stock: the appalling case of Northwood Tower in Walthamstow (3)

Fire safety at LBWF’s Northwood Tower in Walthamstow: a further chapter in a long-running and dismal story

Learning the lessons of Grenfell…or maybe not: LBWF’s 2017-18 flat entrance door update programme at Northwood Tower, Goddarts House, and other sheltered housing blocks

Statement submitted to tonight’s full Council meeting on the fire safety scandal in Waltham Forest

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