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

From August 2017 onwards, the Waltham Forest Echo journalist Michelle Edwards has repeatedly warned about the perilous state of fire safety measures at Walthamstow’s 21 floor Northwood Tower. Shocked by these revelations, this blog, too, has looked at Northwood, in particular scrutinising the Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) reports between 2014 and 2018, and supported Ms. Edwards’ judgement that (a) the overall fire risk at the block has remained unacceptably high, and (b) exactly the same failings have been noted, again and again, casting doubt on LBWF’s appetite for effective remedial work (see references below). A newly released FRA report, completed by LBWF’s agent S3 Environmental and finali... »

LBWF and COVID-19 (3)

With the passage of time, there is growing clarity about how LBWF has been affected by COVID-19, and to what extent the impact is being mitigated by special support received from the government. The first discussion of these important issues occurred in late April, when a report on them was debated by Cabinet. LBWF officers had produced 15 initial estimates of the possible gross damage (i.e. the damage disregarding any extra government assistance) which played with various assumptions about the pandemic’s likely length and the size of the extra demand for social care, and concluded that the range would be of the order £16,484,600 to £50,715,700. Figures quoted in the covering paper focused o... »

LBWF and its Freedom of Information Act failings: now the Information Commissioner’s Office directly intervenes UPDATED

Past posts have covered LBWF’s increasingly unsatisfactory record in handling Freedom of Information (FOI) inquiries – its delays, illegitimate evasions, ignorance of the legal framework, and so on. However, at last there is some good news, because the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is to meet with LBWF Chief Executive, Martin Esom, shortly to discuss ‘the numerous [ICO] decision notices that have been highly critical of…[LBWF]FOI practices over the last 12-18 months and what the council need to do to improve their information rights practices and procedures moving forward’. This of course is an unusual step to take, and is an embarrassment for both the extravagantly paid Mr. Esom a... »

LBWF ‘communication’ with local residents: the yawning gap between rhetoric and reality

As this blog has previously reported, though LBWF stridently declares that it wants to ‘communicate’ with residents, even help them become ‘active citizens’, able to drive policy, what transpires on the ground is often very different. Communication turns out to be a one-way street, while those who raise issues that are at odds with LBWF’s rosy self-image find themselves studiously ignored. To further underline the prevailing malaise, a correspondent supplies the following vivid account of dealing with the Town Hall, which is particularly shocking because it involves several senior councillors: ‘In the autumn of 2019, I sent representations to LBWF protesting against the plan by its developme... »

Cllrs Anna Mbachu and Victoria te Velde: register of Interests controversy re-surfaces UPDATED

Given the frequency over the years with which they have been discussed by this blog, it might be thought that councillors’ register of interests (RoI) forms now must be a non-issue – all present, up-to-date, and correct as to fact. Yet, regretfully, this seems not to be the case. Take that Town Hall veteran, Cllr. Anna Mbachu. As readers of this blog will remember, her RoI has attracted reproval before. Has she changed her approach? Well, as of this morning, section 4 of her form reads as follows: So far so good. But a quick check via the Companies House website reveals that Anna Mbachu Educate Orphans & Support Widows Ltd. was compulsorily struck off and dissolved nearly a year ago: And... »

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