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A YEAR AFTER SALFORD CLADDING SCANDAL INDEPENDENT TENANTS MEETING TO BE HELD
 

Star date: 16th July 2018

CLADDING, SECURITY, FIRE SAFETY AND MORE TO BE DISCUSSED AT PENDLEON TENANTS MEETING

As the Grenfell Tower victims said, before the tragic fire their warnings were not listened to by the authorities. Now tenants in Spruce Court, Pendleton, who are still living with the dangerous cladding, have called an independent meeting for tomorrow, Tuesday, 17th July, to discuss cladding, security and more, while Thorn Court residents are also complaining about the same issues.

Full details here...


Spruce Court residents meeting
click image to enlarge

When Justice For Grenfell campaigner Moyra Samuels spoke at a public meeting at Salford Arts Theatre almost a year ago, she said "The key issue is for residents associations to find their voice"...

Tomorrow, Tuesday, 17th July at 7pm, tenants at Pendleton Together's Spruce Court will finally hold an independent meeting, supported by Greater Manchester Housing Action and Acorn, to discuss a myriad of issues that are blighting the towerblock...14 specific issues to be precise, ranging from infestations of silverfish and Larder beetles, to holes in the walls of flats, to power surges, to faulty windows, security cuts, obvious cladding problems and fire alarms installed in the wrong places...

"Tenants are complaining that they can't hear the fire alarm and that they're scared to sleep and want to move" a Spruce Court resident told the Salford Star.

The independent tenants' meeting is due to be held in the Community Room at Spruce Court but, the Salford Star was told, Pendleton Together, which manages the block for Salford City Council, has taken the keys to the Community Room off tenants...

"The Community Room has never been officially open to the tenants because the housing are stopping us using it" explained a resident "They're just trying to stop us coming together to complain. Pendleton Together are scared that if we come together we will complain about how they are treating us."

However the meeting will take place, and a spokesperson for Greater Manchester Housing Action, which is supporting the tenants along with Acorn renter's union, told the Salford Star...

"We're supporting the residents as we are concerned that social landlords are failing to listen to their tenants. We want residents to have real control over their housing. Current participation mechanisms aren't working and don't go far enough and exclude tenants from having a real say.

"Housing associations such as Pendleton Together were supposed to provide local accountability for their tenants, but their convoluted structures and bureaucracy lock tenants out" he added "Here, we have residents who want to organise. The housing association should be doing everything in their power to facilitate this. If Pendleton Together fail to support tenant participation, we want to see action from the regulator and the local authority."

Meanwhile, over in Thorn Court, similar issues persist. As well as the cladding issues, which has seen the dangerous material removed from only the first three floors of the towerblock, with smaller blocks being sorted first, fire safety and security are being questioned...

"Fire marshals were put in the nine blocks to patrol 24/7, however, we have recently found out that the so called fire marshals have only just recently had training for doing this job; what training we don't know" says Thorn Court tenant Jon Smith..

"Salford City Council and Pendleton Together then decide to install fire alarms in the tower block but these are as much use as a fire extinguisher that is empty" he adds "Why? Because the fire alarms were placed in the stairwell and not on landings. There is a fire door on each landing that acts like a sound buffer, so most residents cannot hear the alarm in their flats when they are tested each week."

Meanwhile, residents have been told to remove mats from outside their doors, even if they are fire resistant, otherwise they would be binned; and to remove plastic flower pots from alongside the building, while chairs and tables were removed from the community garden as 'fire hazards'...

Jon explains that Pendleton Together told residents that the fire service had asked the housing company to enforce these measures; however, when asked, the fire service denied this and said that Pendleton Together has taken it upon themselves to implement the rule.

Salford Council and Pendleton Together announced months ago that new fire alarms and sprinklers would be installed in every flat but, as yet, nothing has happened... "The silence is deafening" says Jon "We the residents have not been told if this is going to happen and, if so, when it will happen. And who at the end of the day is going to be picking up the cost of redecorating residents flats when every room is going to be affected?"

The actual security on the blocks is provided by Salix Homes, for which tenants in Thorn and Spruce Court pay £15.12 per week for a 24 hour manned security service, which includes checking visitors, opening vehicle gates and patrolling the building and car park. It also used to include taking in parcels for residents but that stopped recently without notice or consultation.

However, when guards are on leave, or sick, or on breaks, there is little cover, and residents argue that, firstly they are not getting the service they are paying for, and, secondly, that their safety is being compromised. Other recent issues have included a broken emergency exit door to the gardens, vehicle gates not working, leaving some residents being late for work, and intercoms not working. Jon gives a potential scenario...

"Let's suppose this happened on Thorn Court; a resident is taken ill and dials 999, the ambulance arrives at the vehicle gate, but can't get an answer from Diamond House, because the intercom is not working, and they can't contact the security lodge because the gate intercom is not working" he says.

"The ambulance crew decide a crew member needs to climb the vehicle gate, and to get the attention of Diamond House via the front door intercom, finally getting into the building to get to the 19th floor" he adds "How many vital minutes have been lost from arriving at the vehicle gate? Ten or more? And if that person who dialled 999 has had a heart attack or stroke would that ten minutes have made the difference between life and death?

"Now the ambulance crew have to get that person to the ambulance, so the driver has to drive round the block, park near the Flemish Weaver, run round to the pedestrian gate, gain entry get to the flat, help the other crew member bring the person down to ground floor and to the ambulance. Acceptable? I don't think so" he insists.

"Now change the ambulance for a fire engine, and instead of one life being in danger you have a situation that could be another Grenfell" he says "Let's suppose a fire starts on the 4th floor above the new boarding on the three floors below and that supposedly will not ignite. 22 floors, eight flats per floor, equals 176 flats, including ten to twelve wheelchair users on the upper floors and up to fifty elderly people, plus who knows how many children in the block now, and the fire service have the same problems as the ambulance service had....

"Salford City Council, Pendleton Together and Salix Homes really need to re-think the whole security situation" he concludes, listing practices that should be put in place...

*Make sure that vehicle and pedestrian gates are working 100% of the time.

* Gate and flat intercoms to be checked each week and contractors fix any faults within 24 hours, not in five to seven days as has been happening.

*That there is a back-up plan for emergency services to gain access to the block if there's no guard on site or the vehicle gate cannot be operated...that emergency services have a way to contact Diamond House if the intercom system fails, and that the fire service should be issued with a master fob so they can access any block within the Pendleton area...

"Finally" Jon adds "Salford City Council and Pendleton Together should communicate better with the residents of all blocks under their control. This is all the residents want, apart from feeling safe in their own homes..."


The Salford Star contacted Salix Homes re security, and Pendleton Together re the residents' meeting, for a comment. Salix Homes referred the matter to Salford Council, which hasn't responded any Star questions for over five years, while Pendleton Together hasn't responded at all.

 

Update: 11am - Acorn has just informed the Salford Star that tenants won't be allowed use of the community room as Pendleton Together needs to perform a 'fire risk assessment'... "We are exploring alternative venues nearby and if needs be will just hold it outside the building" states Acorn.

The meeting is to now be held at Pendleton Gateway


Bob the regular wrote
at 05:36:38 on 20 July 2018
How does it work at Albion with the repairs and that. surly they should be able to respond to things better than Salix, or are Salix keeping most of the cash.

Dawn wrote
at 12:19:34 on 19 July 2018
Iím sorry to say I wonít hold my breath to get the answers we all need. We will get fobbed off time after time....what are they hiding what are they not telling us, why are we all still living in fear, they take 24hr security away why would they do that at this terrible fearing times of our lives...lots off why questions...and loads of when, and what are you goin to do about this....we are just money to them, not human beings....Money. And their time has run out for fobbing us all off and doin feck all and blaming everyone else apart from THEM......NO MORE....😡😡😡😡😡

wrote
at 06:42:16 on 19 July 2018
@ Bob. I wasn't having a go at all, please don't think that. I was just correcting you, Albion is not in full control of the tenant policy. Salix oversee a lot, including some repairs and works. For instance if the Co-op is too slow to get things done you can ring Salix who will either ring them to get the ball rolling or go over their heads and get things done. They have even been known to bill the Co-op for jobs they had to do that the Co-op should've done. So yes it is a TMO with some teeth, but chained to Salix more so now since the transfer. I'm glad we have the TMO, don't get me wrong, they do a good job for their size but sometimes it can be frustrating to get things done when it doesn't have the resources of Salix, hence why Salix does most of the 'Big Jobs'. If the co-op could go it alone they would, but they simply don't have the money and resources to do so. Salix would love to get rid of it, but they can't thankfully.

Bob the regular wrote
at 18:20:15 on 18 July 2018
Regards to wrote about Albion. I am well aware of the co-op at Albion, but I was under the impression it was a full TMO. If its not, then why not, you can still do it I think and kick Salix out. I was not in any way critical about the aims of the co-op at Albion, just critical of others not taking the powers that I thought that group had.It would do its most famous resident good to get involved a bit on the front line as it were, perhaps with his neighbours around him he might learn to be a bit wiser with money.

Jeff wrote
at 06:31:03 on 18 July 2018
I remember when you had to have an interview to get in Thorn Court.A friend of mine who lives there now says the block is on the way down, they're letting anyone in, without thought as to how it affects some of the vulnerable tenants there. This on top of the security and fire issues, is really affecting some people badly.

wrote
at 06:28:44 on 18 July 2018
@ Bob, The Co-op there had the right to 'discriminate' if potential tenants didn't support their 'aims and objectives'. You basically had to sign a document saying you'll be part of the Co-op and get involved in the community. This has changed since Salix took over, they're now forced to accept some tenants they don't necessarily want there. So yes, there are now Scrotes and druggies on Albion. The power needs to be in the hands of the community where they live! If residents are involved then they'll take care of their community and get things done, but Salix, Pendleton Together and the like don't want that. Salix proved this when they said "becoming a mutual organisation would not be in Salix Homes best interests" Which translated basically means "We don't want you getting involved and messing with our commercial interests!"

Bob the regular wrote
at 06:39:03 on 17 July 2018
I have said it time and time again. Until the residents are in charge themselves,there will never be any progress. There is enough money there,enough money coming in, but it all gets wasted.Look at the block where Dennett lives and the way things get done there. The residents on that select block even get to deceide who lives there. No smackheads or wayne and waynettas there. Do as they do,not do as they say. As for this fire marshals thing .What a joke, but its not funny. The word fire marshal sounds to an ordinary person to be like a senior fireman,someone in charge, someone who knows whats what. what to do in an emergency,that sort of thing.this will give people, especially old ones a false feeling of security. Its all a big mess and I feel sorry for the people who have to put up with all this crap.

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