Star date: 29th July 2017


"I don't think anybody feels safe in this tower block" Dawn

Despite 'reassurances' on fire safety from Salford City Council and Pendleton Together, residents of Thorn Court - one of the nine blocks that have again failed Government safety tests - have spoken out about the 'fear' and 'anger' they feel.

The Salford Star has been sent comments from tenants posted on the Thorn and Pendleton Blog News - and they tell a different story from that being propagated by the Council, PT and Salford City Mayor.

Full details here...

"We residents are left to live in fear and constant paranoia about our safety..."

Yesterday, the Salford Star reported that the nine blocks in Pendleton owned by Salford City Council and managed by Pendleton Together had again failed Government fire safety tests - this time on the cladding and insulation system used (see here).

Deputy Mayor and newly appointed 'fire tsar', John Merry, was quoted in a Council press release saying; "We are focusing on doing what it takes to make the buildings safe and decisive steps have been taken to progress a permanent solution.

"Residents need and deserve this reassurance" he added "We are fully committed to ensuring that our buildings meet the highest standards, continuing the commitment to develop a vibrant, attractive neighbourhood."

On the same day this was issued, tenants in Thorn Court, one of the two highest tower blocks affected, posted their own comments on the Thorn and Pendleton Blog News. These tenants tell a different story to that being propagated by Salford Council, Pendleton Together (PT), Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, and his Deputy, John Merry...

Dawn, who has lived in Thorn for over twenty years, sums up the feelings..."We have old people here, and they want to be reassured and feel safe, and at this moment in time I don't think anybody feels safe in this tower block."

Dawn has asked why fire extinguishers could not be put on the higher floors of the block, but, so far, has not received an answer to this and other questions about fire safety.

Edward, 68, has lived in Thorn for 19 years and says: "The block is unsafe and we are not getting the truth, we don't know what's going on from one day to the other.

"The information that has been given out by Pendleton Together has not helped me at all, it's confusing, and in some cases one letter contradicted the previous one" he adds "I don't feel at all safe in my flat now, and this is the fist time in 19 years I have felt like this."

While work on putting up concrete boards to cover the fire safety-failed insulation has started on the low rise blocks, the Pendleton Blog reports that there are three wheelchair users in Thorn Court on the 20th floor and at least one on the 19th floor, and residents are urging priority for the two skyscrapers...

"We were told that fire alarms would be put on all floors, that was two weeks ago but so far we have seen nothing happening" says Edward "Maybe they are starting on the low rise first, I just don't understand the thinking behind this when it's the high rise blocks that should be removed first."

Simon is a partially disabled person who lives on the 22nd floor, and argues that Pendleton Together's assertion that 'Where we are aware that a resident has a vulnerability, we are working with them to develop a plan in the case of a fire', "doesn't ring entirely true...

"Whilst PT should now have me listed as a vulnerable resident, the only 'plan' that I'm  aware of consists of staying put and awaiting rescue whilst all hell breaks loose around me" he says "How I can be realistically expected to do that and what guise this rescue is to take, I do not know. I can't say I'm filled with confidence in this as any sort of 'plan'!

"Similarly" he adds "Mayor Paul Dennett's statement on 07/07/17 that: 'Work is continuing to progress the removal of the panels at the Pendleton tower blocks in a safe and timely manner' flies in the face of what most people would consider 'timely'...

"Work commenced on Thorn Court on 24/06/17 and now, nearly a month later, removal of panels has yet to be completed on the 1st floor" he explains "I would ask Mr Dennett whether his views on immediate removal being the 'right and moral thing to do' still hold? And if so, why is progress at a standstill?

"It's either 'right and moral' or it isn't because SCC [Salford City Council] don't have the funds?" he asks "I fully appreciate the massive strains faced by councils already starved of funding by central Government, but surely you can't put a price on people's lives? Whilst SCC debates the answer to this question, we residents are left to live in fear and constant paranoia about our safety.

"I believe the whole situation has also raised further fire safety questions that needed to be addressed prior to Grenfell, but that are only now being considered" Simon explains "These include things such as service risers, electrical conduit risers, fire doors, voids, and the vents added as part of the refurbishment (that pass through vent holes in the cladding, insulation and into the flats interior and covered only by a bit of plastic). These are in addition seemingly long overdue reviews of fire safety/evacuation procedures."

Jon, 72, has lived in Thorn for 19 years, and tells the Blog that he pointed out a number of fire safety issues to Pendleton Together staff and a fireman who visted his flat. One of the issues, in common with many people who live in these blocks, was a gap under the fire door. The fireman told the Pendelton Together rep that the door needed replacing. But nothing has happened yet.

He was told that Pendleton Together were looking into the possibility of sprinklers, and that fire alarms were going to be fitted starting next week. Jon asked if the alarms were being fitted on all the floors and was told a reply would be forthcoming shortly... "That was a week ago and nothing has been fitted" he says.

Many residents said that they would leave the block if they could, a sentiment expressed by Councillor Bill Hinds at the full Council meeting last week when he said tenants would start "voting with their feet" (see previous salford Star article - click here)...

"For my husband and I this is not a viable option in the slightest, as whilst I'm currently undergoing treatment for a brain tumour, he suffers with a severe mental health problem" says one resident "Where would they re-house us anyway? How could we afford this? We are therefore left stuck between the proverbial 'rock and a hard place'...

"Many residents feel they are now in limbo, and some who have purchased their property or are in the process of purchasing, just fear their insurance is going to hit the roof or they are not going to be able to get insurance if they live in one of the blocks affected" she adds "Residents who have home contents insurance are now wondering if their insurance is valid as circumstances have now changed."

Edward also sums up the feelings. Agreeing that he feels trapped in Thorn Court, he was asked if he would move if offered alternative accommodation..."I would if I could afford it, but like many other residents I don't have the money to move."

Roger says he doesn't feel safe living in the block but was another who would not leave... "I have spent a lot of money and time doing the flat up to make it a home".

What they would prefer is for someone to sort out the safety issues - and in the meantime reduce the rent to compensate for disruption, having already survived two years of refurbishment hell recently (see previous Salford Star articles - click here and follow links)...

"They should definitely be looking at paying some form of compensation, we have all been living in a building site for the last two years, and now it looks like we are all going to have to go through this again" says Edward "How would they or the Council like to come and live in a building site for two years and then have to go through it again just as we have our homes back in some kind of order."      

Shaun agrees: "They need to pay everyone compensation and start telling people what's really happening" he says. But the problems go deeper than the present...

"I've been here eight years now and I remember the day I got my keys and the housing told me how happy I would be here" he recalls "Two years of hell we have gone through with the refurbishment, I even had to move out while they did mine.

"It's sent me into depression with the noise, I didn't sleep much at all" he explains "Had people staring through the windows with no privacy...All our blinds are fitted wrong so the windows don't even open...Still got draughts coming through the windows, even leak in heavy rain so much for weather proof...

"We decorated our home and soon as we finished I woke up to a flooded apartment as they had not fitted someone's heating right" he adds "Nothing was even done about it; ruined my sofa and had to throw it out. Still now there's all mould still coming through for it...Recently decorated again hoping it would cover and still it all comes through again...The lift down button on our floor doesn't work either...It's all just a big botched mess.

"I think a watchdog should be involved to be honest as I feel it's just a company that is only interested in money" he insists "Don't feel safe at all since knowing we're covered in flammable material. Don't even think I'm gonna cope second time around with more drilling that could last months maybe even a year. Been paying rent all these years and for what? A shit home. They should have just left it as it was and done just the windows and interior...

"No matter what people are saying, they are not listening because we are just people" he chillingly concludes, with echoes of the community around Grenfell Tower...

The Salford Star thanks the Thorn and Pendleton Blog News for this contribution. To read more see the Blog - click here

Former Resident wrote
at 7:12:40 AM on Wednesday, August 2, 2017
The film 'Towering Inferno' always springs to mind when I see todays' Salford and Manchester. Looking at the weird and over-materialistic quality of the buildings that have gone up I believe the Fire Service and Engineers have not be consulted properly on the construction of the buildings. @Cladding Wonder Women, you're correct about letting the so called 'rich' have the city. Over the last few decades it's got weirder and weirder as if it's like some tele-tubby city. Not only does it all look unsafe but you get the sense that some thing from a dickens novel on drugs is playing with lego and a duplo kit. As a former resident I am glad I moved away from the area. I would not like to go to bed every night in the knowledge that one could be burnt to a cinder in the next few hours should anything happen to some unsafe and weird cladding system put up by an even weirder and incompetent council. Moving away to a place to where there's a bit more common sense may be best option you have now.
at 9:58:38 AM on Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Would the mentioned Edward (68) be the same Edward who sat on the committee's and panels who agreed PT got the flats in the first place. Karmas a bitch Edward.
Rayofsunshine wrote
at 12:11:06 PM on Monday, July 31, 2017
Mr.Felse is an incorrigibĺe poĺitical părăsite;as a self proclaimed private landlord he has nothing but contempt for sociāl tenants.
Bob wrote
at 1:48:40 AM on Monday, July 31, 2017
Well come on down Mr F. Why don't you come on down and hold some sort a forum for those interested in setting up TMO groups. could be worth a try. Good point about the MP. It is an important issue. Can she please issue a statement about this or is she so far up Corbyns arse to care about us in Salford any more. Of course she will be behind the big labour cover up.Damage limitation and all that. I do not care what she has to say about this crap, but she has to say something.Like I said ,it is an important issue.
Michael James Felse wrote
at 1:22:27 PM on Sunday, July 30, 2017
One question I have is: Why is the local MP not making more of a noise on this problem?
Terry wrote
at 1:21:59 PM on Sunday, July 30, 2017
@Cladding Wonder Woman, yes you're spot on, I know people close to suicide because of their unjust actions, but they can't bully and intimidate large groups. It is the officers who are vindictive, malicious bullies. They win by picking off individuals and making their lives hell, they care about the damage done, they have no humanity. This is why just getting rid of the current councillors is the first step, many people at the top need kicking out as well.
Cladding Wonder Woman wrote
at 2:36:07 AM on Sunday, July 30, 2017
Hi Tom, sorry I as well as the other tenants did not turn up to your meeting. I do know why. There is a lad that lives in your tower block that has taken on our landlord many times according to my neighbour :) Our landlord according to my neighbour is trying to evict him again. In Arthur Millwood this has scared a lot of the tenants into keeping quiet. Until I moved to Salford I used to take on my landlord all the time, but according to the tenants on the Islington Estate, one wrong word or complaint and they will try to evict you. I work, so I would not be entitled to legal aid. Most of the tenants in Arthur Millwood have decided to move, not just from the Islington Estate but away from the north west. If the rich want this city they are welcome to it. It's all constructed out of flammable cladding, plasterboard and second rate glazing. I would not want to be looking at these modern buildings in 10 years. The place will look a right mess. I do wish you the best Tom with reforming a tenants committee. At least someone cares for the Tower Blocks even if our landlord does not.
Bob wrote
at 2:44:30 PM on Saturday, July 29, 2017
When will the people realize they have been conned? I think they already know. It is the Labour council that all this crap always flows back to. Thing is you always hear:-"i've voted labour all my life, just like my dad did,it's for the working man". What crap. They just do not want to believe they have been conned all their lives. These people on our council are just useless. they do not know what day it is. Is it a good idea to give them all an IQ test , that way we could at least see how thick they were?
Tom nolan wrote
at 2:44:20 PM on Saturday, July 29, 2017
cladding wonder woman..I delivered leaflets to every flat on Islington est 2 weeks ago to get a new committee going and get some answers from salix.not 1 person turned up and I sat in the community room for 3 hours waiting,...I have been on salix case since the morning after grenfell had 3 managers at my flat with reassurance bull shit..we can only work as a community group they won't take any notice of 1 person.I pulled em up over the risers not conforming to fire regs and now they are working on that problem..
Michael James Felse wrote
at 12:24:12 PM on Saturday, July 29, 2017
I hear Dawn asking for fire extinguishers on the top floors. It also needs breathing masks (fire smoke being a major hazard) and fire blankets, fire shields and water sprinklers plus urgent action on the cladding and checks on any gas pipes. Blame can be sorted later but the immediate risk needs action. No excuses.
Surcharge everything they have wrote
at 12:24:03 PM on Saturday, July 29, 2017
The simple fact is these building can not be made safe and no one should be still living there. The refurbishment has compromised the building fire compartment design. The heating systems will need to be removed and winter is on its way. Salford council has more than 50% of all unsafe tower blocks (what a load of F*ck whits). The residents should be taking legal advice about forcing the Landlords to provide safe accommodation and refund on rent/council tax, plus compensation. The council has millions of pounds of public liability insurance, people should ask for the Insurer's details. The section 151 officer also has a duty of care and they can be sued if they fail to act. Personally, I would be out of there ASAP and those who have done this should face the prospect of fines or prison. I know people in the claims management industry will soon be circling. Removing the councillors only deals with one part of this rotten lot, most of the officers need sacking. Who will pay for this all, people at the bottom as always. It's time to abolish salford council and start with a new structure. This is the third time salford council has done this, all on youtube.
Cladding Wonder Woman wrote
at 12:23:56 PM on Saturday, July 29, 2017
I am now getting so confused about this cladding situation. I keep reading document after document on the Pendleton Tower Blocks but everyone seems to have forgot Arthur Millwood Court. We don't just have a similar cladding system like Thorn Court, but exactly the same cladding system. Is their a higher demand to hear the stories about these 9 Tower Blocks, that exceeds the dangers within Arthur Millwood. Why are we being left out of this cladding debate. At least the Salford Council are trying to remedy the problem but our landlord refuses to strip any more cladding. I pretty sure Thorn Court does not have a gas powered heating system on top of their flammable cladding, but Arthur Millwood does. We have the same cladding and the same gas powered heating system. Why are the tenants views on the Islington Estate not being mentioned in any news stories. This does concern me. Are we any less of a person because we do not live in the 9 Pendleton Tower Blocks? Are we the acceptable collateral damage?
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