Star date: 1st December 2017


"There will be buildings that are unsafe and that must be a worry for people who are falling asleep in them" Simon Hay, construction expert

Salford City Council has refused to release Building Control documents relating to cladding on three Pendleton high rise blocks, following a Salford Star Freedom of Information request. Neither has the Council responded to a request for emails relating to cladding.

Meanwhile, a SKY tv documentary has questioned cladding safety measures by Salford Council and others, and a Salix Homes resident living in a high rise flat is looking to sue his housing company over cladding related stress issues.

Full details here...

This week, SKY News aired a half hour documentary on Britain's Fire Safety Crisis, questioning the safety of all plastic insulation and cladding on high rise blocks; while revealing how combustible materials were used on buildings because it was cheap; how building regulations failed through privatisation; and how scientists and fire experts' had been "routinely silenced" while trying to give warnings.*

"There will be buildings that are unsafe and that must be a worry for people who are falling asleep in them" construction expert Simon Hay told the documentary. Hay sat on the Government committee set up by the Department For Energy and Climate Change in 2011 to look into poorly insulated homes.

The committee, stated the documentary, was stuffed with representatives from insulation companies, some of which were also members of BRUFMA, a plastic insulation lobby group. One company manager, Rob Warren of Celotex, revealed in a now-deleted document that he was "working inside government ...enabling the insulation industry to maximise the benefits..."

Celotex insulation was subsequently fitted on Grenfell Tower, and the documentary explained that the panels and insulation of Grenfell Tower were "thought to contain as much fuel as 30,000 litres of petrol..."

The SKY documentary headed to Pendleton with the reporter stating "These flats in Salford had plastic foam insulation and exactly the same plastic filled cladding panels fitted to Grenfell Tower, and the whole system here was signed off by Salford Council's semi-privatised building inspectors."

He added that the Council was now spending millions of pounds trying to make the blocks safe with foil tape around the plastic insulation and cement based panels... "But any plastic foam insulation is only as fireproof as the materials used to keep heat and flames away" he explained "If fire can get to the plastic...it can burn...It should never have been there..."

Last week, perhaps with knowledge of the upcoming documentary, Salford Council put out a statement that "following improvements to the emergency lighting systems; further safety work is being carried out to each block to make the corridors and common areas safer including the replacement of some communal doors to comply with the most recent Fire Risk Assessments." It added that plans for further work would not be communicated until 'early in the new year'.

City West Housing Trust recently announced plans to fit sprinkler systems at all of its twelve high-rise blocks in Eccles. However, the documentary questioned whether any building with plastic combustible materials is safe...

"It is far from clear whether anyone is asking why, with so little debate, so much material that burns is still being added to Britain's buildings..." the documentary concluded.

In the Salford Council statement John Merry, Deputy Mayor, promised to "make these blocks as safe as possible..." Yet much of the original cladding and insulation is still on the nine Pendleton blocks that the Council owns.

Salix Homes, which owns seven blocks that failed fire safety tests, hasn't updated its website on the issue since August, and residents have been told nothing will be happening with the cladding until next year. One Salix resident of a high rise block, currently living with cladding on the outside of their flat that has failed fire safety tests, is looking to sue the company for stress, the Salford Star understands.

Meanwhile, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests made by the Salford Star related to the cladding of the Pendleton blocks continue to be refused or ignored. A request for emails from June between the Council housing lead member and Pendleton Together in the wake of the Grenfell disaster has had no response since October, when we were told that the Council would "be in touch shortly with a progress update"...

A further request under the Freedom of Information Act for documents from Salford Council's Building Control department and building inspectors for cladding work on Thorn Court, Spruce Court and Whitebeam Court has now been refused outright, as it is "not to be in the best interests of the public".

Salford Council dealt with the request under its Environmental Information Regulations, rather than FOI, and stated: "The Council fully recognises that these are very high profile issues and that there is a substantial public interest in maximum openness in relation to matters of public safety...However the Council considers the public interest in maintaining the exceptions in relation to this particular material outweighs the public interest in disclosure..."

It added that the information "includes communications with the Contractor that are currently under review in relation to the PFI contractor's compliance with Building Regulations and the ability of the contractor to carry out the remediation work. This includes information about the products used and the manufacturer's datasheets provided by the Contractor as part of the Building Regulations approval process along with architect's drawings with regards to the cladding and insulation system.

"We believe that disclosure of this information would impede the Council's ability to ensure building regulations are complied with and may fetter the Council's ability to reach acceptable settlements with contractors to ensure the safety of residents" it explained.

"The Council needs to be able to make clear decisions and obtain advice. Disclosure would harm the way the organisation does this and may stop the Council being able to fulfil its statutory duty in relation to enforcement" it added "It is important that the Council is able to recoup any financial losses from any contractors and ensure remediation work and further work is carried out to the proper standard for the public..."

The Salford Star doesn't quite understand how transparency of the process would get in the way of this. Indeed, none of the Council-commissioned reports into the cladding have been made public, apart from the Government fire safety test results, despite initial promises that they would be.

The whole issue goes on and off the Council agenda, depending on how many tv cameras are in town...and meanwhile, as Simon Hay said in the SKY News documentary, "There will be buildings that are unsafe and that must be a worry for people who are falling asleep in them..."

See the full SKY documentary: Britain's Fire Safety Crisis – click here

See also previous related Salford Star articles...

Salford Council Set To Borrow £25million To Make Tower Blocks Safe – click here

Salford Tower Block Cladding Similar To London Fire Materials – click here

Salford Tower Blocks Have Same Insulation As Grenfell Tower – click here

The Nightmare of Salford Tower Block Residents Post Grenfell – click here

There are a further 30 articles on Salford's cladding crisis on the Salford Star website. To see them all just put the word cladding into the Search box on the top right hand corner of the front page of the site.

at 07:26:36 on 10 December 2017
Mr Felse let me correct you. The value you used is years ago. A realistic share value today is three times what you say. More like £260 million. Why does a Labour council keep loads a money of ours in shares instead of selling to use on services. Labour love to be Lord of the Manor while we skivey to keep their gravy train on its happy go lucky track.
Michael James Felse wrote
at 15:34:44 on 09 December 2017
How long before our Salford Council raises all the £25million to do the work on these High Rise flats in Salford. I do DEMAND our Mayor sells OUR Salford Councils share in Manchester Airport, worth a huge estimated £88million to not only do the work now but compensate these people that have lived in fear. On top also put £17million into Skills Accelerators for young people to become ready to grab the post Brexit good jobs, £15million to kick start us making Buile Hill Park and buildings ready to be a Star preferred North West English devolved Parliament HQ and to put £20million into saving Salford Health Services. What are we waiting for, the cash is there - seriously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchester_Airports_Group
Bob wrote
at 14:51:11 on 08 December 2017
suppose this time last year the residents of Grenfel had had concerns about cladding. Would that "not have been in the best interests of the public"? I think in this scenario we can say it would have been in their best interest. The turd who wrote that comment should be dragged before a judge for judicial review The councils lawyers like these. I don't mean the ones who work on the joint legal team at Manchester town hall, they're not smart enough to do these type of cases, as the barton bridge fiasco shows they make a balls of everything, no , I am talking about real lawyers ,the rich fat greedy ones. They will tell the council that with a bit(a lot) of cash they will win, then they just run up a huge bill that the mugs pay with our cash.
at 09:45:34 on 07 December 2017
Mayor Dennett must have been listening to Felsey as Dennett starts DEMANDING action on the cladding safety as part of the GMCA new approach (M.E.N. Friday- 1 December 2017).
Bob wrote
at 06:31:13 on 05 December 2017
To get back to my first comment. Has the Stars editor had a word with our local fire prevention officer,and if he has, and are they happy or not with the magic tape or not. "representation for all "has seen the documentary by sky, I have not, I do not need to. Anyone can see this tape isn't the right idea. It's like saying you can stockpile petrol on your balcony, provided it's kept in 5 gallon goverment approved jerry cans. Even if rockwool is used, and rockpanel cladding which is bassalt based, there is still the problem of up draught chimney effect. The whole thing needs thinking about properly, which is something our experts cannot do.
Michael James Felse wrote
at 06:30:23 on 05 December 2017
Thank you Representation for All. Very clear comment. I thank Bob, Salford Star and others here for keeping this matter alive and kicking. I ask Salford Star to do a new feature story on what has been said here today, clear and concise. Also to put up one blank template Claim Form to make it easy for affected residents to make a claim. And I ask everyone in Salford High Rise Flats to tell your neighbours about this news. If you have any disabled or elderly neighbours please make sure they can get a Claim Form. I will be comfortable to hear Salford Council Insurance needing to set aside £20million for compensation claims. Do the right thing now and compensate Salford residents.
Representation For All wrote
at 13:32:51 on 04 December 2017
I do understand why the Salford Council feel the need to plug their fire hazard cladding problem with adhesive aluminium tape. If you watch the Sky documentary it does state that if the ends of the cladded insulation were covered in aluminium tape, it could possibly stop the foam from igniting, in an apartment fire for up to 30 minutes, due to the heat and flame being reflected from the ends of the flammable insulation. However, as per usual, no one ever reads the end of a document or listens properly to the end of a documentary. The tests that were designed by the BRE were certainly, in a professional architects eyes, not substantial enough to test the highly flammable plastic and foam cladding system. The documentary did state that putting aluminium tape on the ends and joins of the foam insulation would stop a fire from spreading for a short space of time. However, it is not the answer, as the high combustible temperatures, within apartment fires, applied directly to the adhesive on the Aluminium Tape, would melt causing the highly flammable plastic insulation, once again, to be exposed and the cladding would ignite. The answer was broadcasted on Sky. All the plastic cladding frames should be replaced with Aluminium Powder Coated Frames and the plastic foam should be replaced with a non burning substitute, which is a mineral based material called "Rock Wool". As usual, we can prove that the Salford Council do not watch, read or listen to anything properly. Their ignorance is putting many tenants at risk and is obviously causing them a great deal of distress. For me, who is currently a legal assistant, this is pretty much a cut and dry legal case. The highly flammable cladding and insulation constitutes as causing a tenant to unnecessary suffer from anxiety, which could lead to a full nervous breakdown or exasperate an existing mental health condition. "Psychological Injuries" is still covered by a "Personal Injury Specialist". So as long as each tenant, within these high rise apartments, gets a diagnosis of a mentally related illness due to their concerns about the highly flammable cladding, then there is a "Psychological Injury". If such injury can be proven, the the Salford Council should be aware that those tenants will be entitled to make a Personal Injury Claim against them, which is normally on a "No Win", "No Fee" basis, costing the tenants "Absolutely Nothing". So the Salford Council have certain choices to make. They can either continue to stick aluminium tape to their buildings which is certainly not what the BRE have stated and be sued by their tenants, or they can replace the highly flammable cladding completely before any more tenants claim for Personal Injury. It's as simple as that.
Michael James Felse wrote
at 10:29:07 on 04 December 2017
I hear Bob and if I hear him we can be sure Salford Councillors are reading his good advice too. But do our Councillors talk to us. What is the point in having elected Councillors paid in Salford. I am sorry to say I absolutely have no confidence in this Salford Council.
Bob wrote
at 07:53:58 on 04 December 2017
MJF is missing the point. If claims are brought in the small claims court, there is no need for insurance to cover the other side costs if the claimant looses the case. the successful defendant looses as well, he has to pay his own costs.A better use of this £1200 he talks about might be used to get a bit of legal advice on the merits of such an action in the first place, which legal aid would not cover. MJF is also wrong on the conception he has of legal president. legal president only happens when cases reach the court of appeal or supreme court. Another judge at a lower court can make a different result with the same facts. However, a social housing provider may take the view that some sort of president was being established even if it was not binding. They would then try and do a confidentiality clause as they normally do in return for not appealing. My view is that there is a case to answer. People must be suffering with their nerves worrying about what could happen. I often think about the Grenful tragedy.The ones that are responsible for all of this should pay the price, but my gut feeling is that what has happened following the Hillsborough thing has put all the rats on their guard, and no expense will be spared on getting the learned lot to defend them.Again, vast amounts of what is in reality public cash will be spent defending the "reputation" and freedom of the ones that do not deserve it. The whole enquiry ect, that is to come will just be a game of musical shit shifting.
Michael James Felse wrote
at 07:48:58 on 04 December 2017
Having canvassed the High Rise flats in Langworthy I must tell Salford Councillors their is real time stress. All these residents deserve an immediate free rent period, backdated to the start of their cladded occupancy. I demand Salford Council deploy a staff team into each affected block to explain risks, precautions and to show residents how to fill in a Salford Council Insurance claim for stress cash. This must be done This Week, without delay and the cash must be paid before Xmas. I strongly demand action now.
Brexit=democracy’s=freedom wrote
at 10:20:53 on 03 December 2017
In the Salford Council statement John Merry, Deputy Mayor, promised to "make these blocks “AS”safe as possible... so sticking a bit of tinfoil on the walls is making them AS safe, ( so mr merry what is the melting point of tinfoil) as before the cladding, they were very safe. So mr Merry which of the two is the safest option, cladding or no cladding or should I say it’s cheaper to stick your head up your arse and live in hope that one of these tower blocks don’t go up in flames whilst your a councillor. It’s time for councillors to be made accountable for the decisions they make, we need to start putting some of these councillors before a judge and jury.
Michael James Felse wrote
at 10:20:04 on 03 December 2017
Bob is correct. My approach would be for my Union to sponsor a few claims and cover the solicitors £1200 insurance. This sets a legal president for the other 2000 Salford residents but it leaves all open for 3 years to bring a smaller claim. Meanwhile to ditch Labour and Tory Councillors to create an Independent Group in control that can make all documents public can then enter a plea of Salford Council responsibility making what I do see as public justice real. I thank Bob for showing Salford Council had better make good or face the wrath of public anger. Langworthy can lead this public vote of no confidence telling Salford Council they must act quick. For God's sake we are talking Salford people's lives here. But do we hear any response from Councillors?
Bob wrote
at 07:25:10 on 03 December 2017
Its a lot of messing about to bring a £50 grand claim. Solicitors need insurance in case they loose to be able to pay the councils costs. Better still would be for a claimant in person to have a go in the small claims court. for someone on benefits this would cost them nothing as they would be fee exempt.this is for claims up to 10 grand. If you loose in these courts, you would not have to pay the councils costs. The council would be on a hiding to nothing. lawyers who work for councils know how to charge councils accordingly for their work.Thing is though, as soon as you got it into court, in the preliminary bits,you can ask the judge for full disclosure of all these documents. I could not see any judge refusing this disclosure, whatever excuse the council dreamt up.Another Idea I had was that the relatives of the Grenfell victims could sue for wrongful imprisonment. Many of these victims were ordered to stay in their flats by the fire service and people obeyed them, to their peril. I am not blaming the fire service for this misfortune, this was proceedure at the time. There is case history where a man was on a bridge in London and told to stay where he was by a policeman. He did what he was told, and this was held to be unlawful arrest, and he sued for damages. The reason I suggest bringing an unlawful arrest claim, is so that any civil proceedings can be brought before a jury, and I believe that a jury would have a better idea of the damages caused. A public school type judge might think the death of an 80 year old granny ,with no dependant children might be worth £10 grand. I wouldn't. The sort of people who award £100,000 to drunken footballers for having their phones tapped, and £2million to the wives of foreign politicians for suggesting they may have previously hookers,are juries, not judges.The people who lost all their possessions and homes in the gas explosions got next to nothing.Council made sure they got paid out though.Thing is, if you are poor in this country, you get nothing, you get treated like shit.
whats the point wrote
at 17:38:28 on 02 December 2017
MJF just the cladding ? everything they have touched has turned to Sh*te, there is so much failure. Its not just the current bunch or councilors but the councils manegment team. The council needs to be abolished it's the only way. If liebour start to lose control then expect the shredders and bleachbit to be running 24/7
Michael James Felse wrote
at 07:42:56 on 02 December 2017
Vote of no confidence. I am making Langworthy by-Election the Vote of no confidence in Salford Council about cladding safety. I demand an independent scrutiny, releasing all the documents to any no win no fee compensation Solicitors with a potential up to £50,000 stress payment to those residents that are suffering the most. Warning to Salford Council with 2000 people in high rises this can cost Salford Council insurance £100million. Justice must be done if people are in any danger. The facts must be exposed.
Bob wrote
at 04:22:51 on 02 December 2017
Thats a new one on me, sticking a bit of foil tape on the insulation to make it safe. Is that what the Stars picture appears to show? If this magic tape works, then perhaps we can ask the head of the local fire brigade (oops, sorry fire servivce there called now), if the fire people are happy with it. I for one cannot see them saying they will be happy , but who am I to say. If they say they are happy with it fine. We cannot take any more chances. I ask the Star just to ask the fire people. Is it safe or not. simple question. All we need is a simple yes or no answer.
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