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SALFORD PENDLETON TOGETHER TENANTS TELL OF KNIVES, NIBES, CLADDING, DODGY WINDOWS AND HOLES IN THE WALLS
 

Star date: 21st September 2018

'IF YOU WERE TO LIVE HERE FOR ONE WEEK IN ONE OF OUR FLATS, IT WOULD OPEN YOUR EYES...'

Dodgy cladding, knife fights, a tenant threatening to jump off the roof, windows that you can't open, others that are almost falling out...and those NIBEs eating up people's heating budgets. Oh, and tenancy warnings handed out like confetti to elected tenants association officers who are trying to make things better.

Welcome to the Pendleton Together blocks, where residents at Malus Court have just about had enough...

Full details here...


Pendleton Together blocks Salford Pendleton Together blocks Salford Pendleton Together blocks Salford
Pendleton Together blocks Salford Pendleton Together blocks Salford Pendleton Together blocks Salford
click image to enlarge

OMG! You arrive at the car park for Beech, Hornbeam, Salix, Lombardy and Malus courts, and there's police cars and vans everywhere. Apparently there's a bloke with mental health issues on the roof of Malus threatening to jump...

...You take a walk around the perimeter of the ten storey Beech Court and, underneath all of the 'Juliette' balconies, sections have been caged off on the ground...in case the windows fall out!

If the windows do fall out, at least it will provide a fire escape, as all but the first three storeys are still covered in dangerous cladding, over a year after the Grenfell Tower disaster. 

You're here to meet some rather unhappy tenants of Malus Court...but we can't meet in the community room. Pendleton Together, which 'manages' the blocks on behalf of Salford City Council, has taken the keys off the elected Tenants and Residents Association, suspended its officers and handed out residency warnings to its Chair for raising issues (and his voice, they say) in relation to serious health and safety concerns.

Instead, eight of us cram into Sam's kitchen. Which is just as well, as she wants you to try and open the window...

"Go on" the residents urge "Just open it; this is our way out in a fire..."

Erm...You lunge over, trying to reach the handle...but there's no chance. There's a ridiculously wide window sill, in front of which is a sink. It's impossible without straddling the sink. A tape measure is brought over. It's a 39inch gap...

"The windows are terrible" says Pat "I have to use my walking stick to open it; I bang it to, then knock the handle to lock it..."

"...I got a step ladder, leaned over to open it and had to go to the doctors because I pulled a ligament and was in bed for two days" recalls Marlene...

"Most people in these flats cannot reach those windows" says Sam "My boyfriend is 6ft 4inches and he can just safely reach and open it. If you're elderly or disabled there's no way you can open that window...Yet a fire is more likely to break out in the kitchen. The front door is a fire door, so when a fire does happen the door expands and you can't open it, so you have to go out of the window...

"...You can open the window slightly but to open it fully you need the key, and it's a struggle to get the key in that position to open it fully anyway" she explains "There's only one key for every window in the flat, so if there's a fire in the kitchen and the key is elsewhere you can't get to the key to open the window..."

Margaret agrees: "...I bought a step stool and can't reach it...I bought ladders and still can't reach it...There's no way I can reach to open the windows at all. It was a warm summer but I just couldn't open the kitchen window. I could open it before the refurbishment..."

Ah, the refurbishment. Part of the obscenely expensive 650million Pendleton PFI deal which was responsible for changing the outside image of the nine blocks with dangerous cladding, while buggering up the interior of everyone's flats with a multitude of issues, ranging from shoddy work to installing those NIBE systems which were supposed to produce, er, cheaper bills...

There's a huge NIBE thing taking up masses of room in Sam's kitchen as a permanent object of contempt...

"That monstrosity!" scorns Sam "When I first moved in I did a lot of research on it and realised straight away that this thing does not work. I watch how much energy I use all the time and write it down every day. I checked every single appliance and the NIBE on its own was using twenty units a day with temperatures outside of 15 degrees. There was nothing else on in the flat as I was just moving in. One unit per day is 5 a month on your bill, that's 100 a month...

"...So I turned it off, but left the memory on and found out it's one unit a day just for that switch, or 5 on your bill" she adds "I've had them out a dozen times, they tried everything and it's still the same. It's like having the immersion heater on all day. The problem is that there's two different types of NIBE; one's an exhaust pump and one's an air pump. One works efficiently, one of them doesn't...and most of them have the wrong one."

Glynn is currently unemployed, so can only afford to put the thing on for less than an hour a day... "If I was to keep it on all the time it would cost me a fortune, so, like me, a lot of people will put it on for 45 minutes for enough hot water and then switch it off onto standby. But Pendleton Together aren't bothered about your circumstances..."

For the NIBE to work, the flats are supposed to be almost completely sealed but everyone here talks about holes in the walls...

"There's holes all over the flat and there's no reason for them" says Arthur.

"...There was a gap under every single window and, before they fixed it with a bit of silicone, there was water running through the holes into the sockets" Sam recalls.

...A resident from Beech Court had also phoned the Star. She had the smell of smoke coming through the kitchen cupboards and walls, through the washer and even in the shower room...

"They left gaps between all the pipes they've put in and just covered it with plasterboard so you can't see it but it's like having someone smoking ten cigarettes in your bathroom" she said "When it's windy I have to wash everything in my cupboards because it's just bare breezeblock behind them.

"Even before Grenfell I had the fire brigade here because of all the neglected holes" she added "They said that health and safety ended at my front door. Is that why Pendleton Together is ignoring the interiors? I've no idea if this is still the case after Grenfell."

This lady had the holes, the cladding...and the weird Juliette balconies to contend with... "When it's windy you can hear them creak and you can hear the wind coming from underneath the sill...I've just been advised that there are 'issues' with the windows and as a precaution they have sealed off the ground underneath."

Er, totally reassuring. But back in Sam's kitchen the residents are just listing problem after problem...They point to the water stop-tap in case of flooding, that's in the ceiling out of anyone's reach, broken asbestos tiles on the floor...and, of course, the sodding cladding, that's really sodding wet...

"They've take the cladding off and put the cement board up which is just plasterboard with a treatment on" Sam explains "It's getting wet and warping on the building; it's rotting..."

Pat adds: "We've been waiting that long for them to do Plane Court, so if it's took them that long to do that when are they going to get round to us; in about five years?

"It's just stupid" she adds "They keep pushing letters through the door saying they're going to do this and that but they're doing nothing. Of course I'm worried, we're going to be in the winter soon with the bad weather and who's to say it won't come through and make the flats damp. They're just getting no further..."

If the winter looks bleak for tenants, the long hot summer was just one long headache, with knife fights on the grass outside the block, druggies and drunks...plus rats and mice scuttling around...

"You used to be vetted before you came in these flats, now they're just letting anybody in, druggies, people with mental health problems, like that one who was going to jump" says Marlene "Why aren't they vetting them? Why are they putting younger ones in next to older ones? It's all wrong."

And Glynn adds: "Pendleton Together know it's going on but don't do anything about it. In the last 12 to 18 months on the blocks there's been a lot of problems and anti-social behaviour but they just don't listen. According to them, everything's running smoothly and there's no problems; everything's perfect. But, if you were to live here for one week in one of our flats it would open your eyes, especially in the summer. You wouldn't believe what goes on...

"You used to get a lot of elderly people sitting outside in the summer but they just can't do that now" he adds "Twenty years ago you had to abide by your tenancy agreement but now you might as well put it in the bin..."

Sam underlines the point: "The only time the tenancy agreement is worth anything is when Pendleton Together use it against you..."

And how. The Malus TARA (Tenants and Residents' Association) currently has its elected officers suspended, with tenancy warnings handed out like confetti...

"I bet we all get letters now" Margaret laughs "But everyone has had enough..."

..."Pendleton Together are just a law unto themselves" Glynn adds...

Graeme is adamant..."It's bullying" he says "During the refurbishment work we pulled them up on these issues and it just fell on deaf ears, they ignored us. And if we complained too much they would sanction us.

"A year ago Salford Mayor, Paul Dennett, came to our community room and said we would get the Trident safety report within a month and we still haven't got it" he says "We still don't know what the issues are here because that Trident report would have been damning and we need to see it..."

"At the end of the day, we're no nearer to knowing, a year and a half down the line, whether these flats are safe or not" Glynn concludes "If something serious happens then they'll probably do something about it..."

Which is exactly what happened at Grenfell...

You say that in Council meetings the local Langworthy councillors stand up and pay tribute to the residents of the blocks for being so 'understanding'... Everyone just falls about laughing...

Meanwhile, Pendleton Together Operating Limited, which is the company dealing with the refurbishments, made a gross profit of 5.7million before finance costs, according to its latest accounts. Its highest paid director received 82,000 and 'emoluments for contracted director services' hit 297,000, even though this subsid of Together Housing employs nobody.

Salford City Council is tied into the PFI agreement with the company until 2042, and under the terms of the contract, the accounts state that the Council makes a monthly payment "Sufficient to pay bond debt, to include interest and amortisation, operational costs and to provide for shareholder return..."

...And that, many believe, is what lies at the bottom of all the problems...the bottom line. Profits...


Next Monday, 24th September, at 6pm, Salford Council's Growth and Prosperity Scrutiny Panel will be meeting to discuss Tower Block Fire Safety but there's no paper reports attached to the agenda as it's just a 'verbal update' by Deputy Mayor John Merry and Environment chief, Ben Dolan. So unless people traipse down to the Civic Centre they've got no chance of knowing what's going on...

...And even if they go, they will be kicked out of the meeting when the contractual (juicy) stuff is actually being discussed...

The Salford Star has emailed John Merry offering him an interview just about Pendleton but, so far, he has not responded.

Meanwhile, the Star put all the allegations from residents to Pendleton Together. The company replied:

"We have had an ongoing dialogue with our tenants about a number of these issues and have provided the following information... https://www.pendletontogether.co.uk/media/2213126/newsletter-aug-18.pdf
"Tenants are aware that they should report any further concerns to us and we will not be commenting further to this at this stage..."

This is Part 2 of a two part article for Part 1 click here

For a zillion articles on the Pendleton Together PFI and subsequent problems just put 'Pendleton PFI' into the search engine on the front page of the Salford Star website...

For a full account of the Pendleton Together refurbishment and NIBE issues see the huge Pendleton Untogether article in Salford Star print issue 10 from three years ago. For the electronic version - click here

Update: 4:30pm - Government Blocks Salford Cladding Replacement - click here

Philip Giuseppe Rossi, The Broadwalk ... wrote
at 10:44:20 on 22 September 2018
What I would do if I was one of the disgruntled tenants is take video statements on my mobile phone. I would try to find about fifty percent of the building's tenants who are willing to put their heads above the parapet and go on the record, saying something like "Hello, My name is Frank McKean and I live at so and so, whatever Court. My problems are with blah blah, and my landlord, Pendleton Together refuses to deal with me. I complained about this six months ago, and nothing's been done, and in light of the Grenfell blaze, I live in terror thhat it could happen here and both Pendleton Together and the council seem to be doing nothing and are unaccountable." If the organisers could take video statements like that, the more the better, and then write a covering email explaining the situation that the residents are in, they could then attache the video statements to the email and press send - sending the emails to all of the relevant people and organisations, I.e, Long Bailey, Pendleton Together, Mayor Paul, Corbyn, Theresa May, the mainstream media, e.g the Guardian, the Mirror, BBC NEWS, Sky News etc, and I'm sure that if they did that, things would improve. At the moment they are not shouting loud enough. Their grievances are only being covered by the Salford Star. They need to make it more of a human interest story, by taking brief video statements from the scared and miserable tenants and getting the wider media outlets involved. Literally shouting their dissatisfaction from the rooftops via a megaphone. Nothing else will work for them. Pendleton Together and the Council are counting on them to do it the way that they have been doing it. They need to upgrade their tactics.

Jerry wrote
at 07:06:30 on 22 September 2018
A lot of great English humour overlaid on a sad and tragic tale of the human condition in the modern-day Britain. A very illuminating account ... Excellent!

Frances wrote
at 19:00:15 on 21 September 2018
Excellent writting whoever wrote this. People who are kept in a state of fear and disadvantagement will find it hard to stand up to this stuff. But if many did this it would be powerful.

Rossi wrote
at 15:48:32 on 21 September 2018
Can people really be as inept as the people running these housing associations and the council seem to be? Is it not possible that something more nefarious is going on here? I can't help but wonder whether all of this catastrophically bad work has been done with the express intention that tenants move out,and end up going to desert outposts like Little Hilton and Irlam. After all, the land around the Broad walk would have developers salivating and cumming in their designer pants at the prospect of either turning the various blocks into genuine yuppie apartments, or knocking them down and building the type of "luxury" shit that you see all over Central Salford, and up onto the border of Manchester City Centre. I say all of this because I just can't accept that these Councillors and the bosses of the Housing Associations could be such a bunch of moronic bastards. I used to be very pro Salford Council, but as time goes by I'm beginning to feel that people such as Joe, Mary and many of the other contributors to the Star have something in what they say. What opened my eyes was cycling back from Sainsburys one night, and taking a detour down some road I can't remember the name of. I felt like David Vincent at the beginning of the old TV series, The Invaders. There were just so many new blocks of flats wherever I went. Obviously the economically unviable aren't going to be part of the plan that Salford Council has for Central Salford. It's all about the bottom line, and rebuilding a city by stealth, with the aid of private developers and Chinese money, then voila, you get a different class of Salford citizen ... Most probably a Southerner working in Media City, waxing fat and rich after selling his two bedroom ex council flat in The Elephant and Castle and moving up North ... And we bonafide Salfordians will be forced to decamp to shit holes like Irlam and Little Hilton, or a B&B in Blackpool. Tell me I'm wrong. Because I know that I'm right.

Bob the regular wrote
at 15:48:23 on 21 September 2018
Having old ladies standing on steps and things and leaning over to open windows is asking for trouble. There is going to be an accident. Health and safety is not about dressing up in safety goggles, safety hats and high vis jackets like our politicians and housing providers do, (look at old mother Sutton dressed that way at the same time wearing 4 inch high heals). Health and safety is not about putting a "cordon sanitaire" around a building in case a window falls out. Safety is paramount, its in the brain, you have to think about dangers to others. These housing providers can see the dangers, I do not think that for one minute they can be so stupid not to. They will have worked out that at the worst , not more than one old lady will fall out of a flat,this will cost them, if she dies only 12k, because that is what a court will give for a negligent death to an old lady. Cheaper tha fixing all the faults. The people who died at Grenfell all 72, plus all that was lost, belongings ect for all the rest of the people, total payout liability has been estimated at just under 5million. That is XXXX all for the misery caused. But thats all it is , money, money ,greed and XXXXXXX incompetence. Militant action is required,a total witholding of rent, and spending the money on competant lawyers to fight these bastards. This will cost and waste even more money, but so be it. What is needed is a nice greedy lawyer,the greedier the better. I can think of a few mercenary bastards who would do the trick. After 8 weeks of none rent payment, the housing provider can ask for direct payment of HB. the tennants could then threaten to cancel their claim altogether for benefit. Trouble is , people will not do these things, they are frightened of these gangsters. I can assure them,the housing providers are more frightened of them, these tossers cannot get well paid jobs like they have, and they would all be sacked if the receivers were called in.Come on people, stand up to them.

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