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Fire safety scandal (2): Cllr. Louise Mitchell responds to my statement at the December 2020 full Council about flat entrance doors, admits fraud may have occurred, but otherwise again fails to impress

Pasted below is a letter to me from LBWF Housing Portfolio Holder, Cllr. Louise Mitchell, responding to my statement about fire safety which was read out at the full Council meeting on 3 December 2020 (and was previously posted here, see the attached link). What she writes certainly requires further comment. Her letter concerns the 217 flat entrance doors (FEDs) which in 2017-18 were installed at Northwood Tower, Goddarts House, and three other sheltered housing blocks. Readers will remember that initially, these were widely touted – including by Cllr. Mitchell herself – as FD60s, that is, FEDs which provided 60 minutes fire protection. Now Cllr. Mitchell comes clean, and admits that t... »

Fire safety scandal (1): recently disclosed e-mail reveals industry expert’s warning that the LBWF specification for flat entrance doors on its estates prioritised ‘design’ over ‘compliance’, thus potentially ‘endangering lives’.

For ordinary Waltham Forest residents, how LBWF tenders and completes fire safety contracts is typically opaque, because so much is shielded from scrutiny by commercial confidentiality clauses and arms’ length transactions delivered through third parties, both outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. However, an e-mail that has just surfaced provides a fascinating, and unexpectedly revealing, insight into the realities. In October 2018, the technical director of a leading British fire safety equipment company, Mr. XX, approached Cllr. Alan Siggers about his unease regarding a large contract which LBWF was tendering for fire proofed flat entrance doors (FEDs). The context was that... »

Solidarity with the Sandwell Skidder!

From today’s Daily Mail: ‘”Labour council with £2.8m hole in its finances ‘found £300,000 to silence blogger” Published: 02:15, 21 December 2020 | A penniless Labour council with a £2.8million hole in its budget set aside £300,000 to silence a blogger who was highly critical of its work. Sandwell council…had admitted to setting taxpayers’ money aside to pursue blogger Julian Saunders, 62. The former solicitor’s blog, Sandwell Skidder, that features claims about the council has been viewed 1.9million times. Mr Saunders, who also ran a coach tour of the borough charging £3 to point out landmarks he claimed where council wrongdoing had gone on, wh... »

LBWF and its fire safety contractor S3 Environmental Ltd.: council officers maintain everything’s OK, but questions and concerns persist

Previous posts have expressed unease about the fact that in 2019, and via its housing repairs and maintenance agent Morgan Sindall Group PLC, LBWF appointed S3 Environmental Ltd. to conduct Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) for its housing blocks (see links below). In response, LBWF has remained steadfast in its view that S3 Environmental Ltd. is an experienced and qualified provider of fire safety services, and thus – it is implied – an appropriate replacement for its predecessor, the blue ribboned Ridge and Partners LLP. Nevertheless, such insistence notwithstanding, questions and concerns persist. To begin with, it is worth re-emphasising that on the internet, S3 Environmental Ltd. descr... »

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

I have submitted the following statement to tonight’s full Council meeting: 1. In 2017-18, the Council replaced 217 flat entrance doors (FEDs) at Northwood Tower and four sheltered housing blocks. 2. The Council told residents that the new FEDs were certified FD60 (i.e., they would provide sixty minutes protection) and made the same claim repeatedly in public; while many of the FEDs carried F60 stickers. 3. In 2019, and for reasons that remain unexplained, the Council sent three FEDs from the 2017-18 batch to Dubai for fire testing, and they failed at 31, 34, and 45 minutes. 4. The Council subsequently claimed that since the three FEDs had withstood fire for more than 30 minutes, and t... »

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