New Unity doors

Let me thank all the operatives who work very hard to instal the new doors for all THH tenants and those opting to have them installed.

Whilst I now have first-hand experience of the new door, I must make recommendations to all who also have had them installed or plan to have them installed.

The doors comply with the latest national Firesafety regulations. Please see a data-sheet enclosed.

The doors have a more secure lock and key, the latter looks distinctly different from the previous standard type Yale key.

I would like to recommend that you lock your door with your key each time you leave your dwelling, even for a short time. The door remains open unless it is locked either from the inside or the outside.

The automated closing with the latch will only bring across bolts, but they do not lock the door, even if it sounds like your door is shut, it is not.

If you share your dwelling with others and those remaining inside whilst you leave cannot immediately lock the door from the inside, you are strongly advised to lock the door from the outside every time you leave as – if the person/s remaining inside cannot secure the door when you leave, – the door remains open.

It is similar to a car. You would never leave your car door open. I suppose it would invalidate a home burglary insurance if you failed to lock your door, even for a short while and then somebody enters your dwelling without your permission.

posters damage tiles

I have had quite a lot of communications with Tower Hamlets Homes about them sticking posters into communal areas with duck tape and strong sticky tape. Yesterday those THH letters were removed and replaced with letter from the Mayor through our letter boxes.

The damage from the removed notices can be seen on the pic.

It must be cheaper for THH to put up notice boxes permanently instead of using strong sticky tape, which removed the tiles as well as the poster.

Door functionality

After writing to councillors, MP and THH, to alert them to design features of the new doors, THH have now confirmed that they will speak with AD about options. Our local Member of Parliament Rushanara Ali has also confirmed she is supporting this issue.

Masterdor replacement

Thanks to the swift actioning of the problem with door replacements, a building insprector came to see me today and explained that those doors, which were installed roughtly 10 years ago around our estate were made by Masterdor, the same company that supplied doors to Grenfell Tower, which were found to fail the fire safety test.

That, of course,is a very good reason to change our doors according to government advice.

Luckily the inspector was very interested in Residents’ safety and promised me to look into the problem with letterboxes. I mentioned to him the problems residents have in the blocks near the Regents canal and he will look into this early next week.

I have been offered an appointment to see the new doors and visit the site office of the company installing them.

Through the chat we had I learned that the new doors by default do not automatically lock when closing and I was very concerned about this.

I have been told that anybody has to request a self-locking lock on the door. A door that doesn’t automatically lock when it closes will give an extra opportunity for a thief to come in. Many people forget to lock doors. I said that all doors should have self-locking mechanisms unless specifically requested and not the other way around.

door replacement program

Please see an up-date to this post here.

Today I need to express concerns about the latest door replacement program carried out by the housing provider Tower Hamlets Homes.

All tenants have been offered those doors and currently I am trying to ascertain whether tenants are going to be forced to have those new doors or get threatened with loss of tenancy if they don’t.

The door replacements are taking place on a frequent basis. We’ve had 3 in as many decades.

Firstly we had those chest-nut brown wooden doors with brass letter slits and door knockers. The chestnut door frames are still around most blocks.

Please scroll through the images to compare the quality of the doors.

Door two please see an up-date to this post on this page. Apparently they are Masterdors and were in Grenfell.

Secondly – see on your left, and less than a decade ago tenants had new fire-proof and police approved security doors installed. Those doors have a triple secure letter box with inside and outside strong letter flaps. The doors are metal lined and have multi-lock mechanisms. They are also very heavy.

Now, we have received another program of door replacments. Those new doors are already installed for tenants in the blocks around the Regents Canal – Sewardstone Road and I am very concerned about their quality.

Cleland, Goodrich, Kemp and Piggott houses have the doors below.

All that’s between a fire and the outside is a flimsy brush.

When I recently handed out leaflets all around the estate I notice the flimsy letter boxes on those new doors. There is a thin pin going across the outside of the letterbox and on that hangs a letter box flap.

Unfortunately on many doors the flap has fallen off. This leaves the door without any flap and there is a brush-type fender across the inside of the letterbox, with no letter flap on the inside of the door. Here both the letter flap and the pin holding has already come off.

There is very little to stop a fire from coming out through those doors’ letter boxes.

It is beyond my understanding how Tower Hamlets Homes can describe those doors as fire-proof.

I have placed an enquiry with Tower Hamlets Homes asking whether tenants will be forced to have those low quality new doors.

planned community kitchen

The latest Parkview TRA leaflet promises the installation of a community kitchen in the Glasshouse.

I am writing to the Tower Hamlets Homes, Community Partnership Officer as we speak to ascertain that a proper Health and Safety Risk Assessment has been carried out according to HSE requirements.

Also other questions need to be asked

  • Was there a risk assessment according to HSE requirements?
  • who is qualified to staff the kitchen?
  • who is the first aider?
  • who is the fire marshall?
  • is there an accident book to record all accidents?
  • Are the rules of the Food Standards Agency been followed?
  • Was there a consultation off all affected included Gatehouse school?

After careful consideration I do not support but oppose the project because there is an increased fire risk from having a large cooking facility in the immediate vicinity of a school and that cooking facility will not have permanent staff but will be operated by random persons. It is not known what the qualificatoins of those persons will be.

Should any fire break out in the community kitchen it most likely will result in the school having to be evacuated for the sake of the safety of the children.

 

chef cooking in kitchen
Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

I’ve been informed that Tower Hamlets Council supports the installation of the Community Kitchen, I requested that they consult also with the school about this, as it is direclty next door and will be affected by problems with the increased fire risk.

I won’t be complaining about the community kitchen, but I made my reservations known. I will not be using it, I think it’s quite risky. But I suppose everybody will use it at their own peril if they wish.

 

Estate maintenance cont…..

Took the opportunity to go on an estate walkabout with some landscaping gardeners from Tower Hamlets Homes.

The weeds certainly have a good time on the estate. But the weeds not only show a failure to remove them, they also show that the concrete forecourts, staircases, fences are rotting. The crumbling appearance of our estate is worrying.

Picture 1 shows how an Umbrella tree sapling in Sewardstone Road, it should be removed at this stage. Better still if the Umbrella trees get removed we do not have those constant saplings appearing. The state of the concrete is appalling, also the iron work is rusted and has been painted over in black glossy paint, whilst it is rotting underneath. The forecourt at Kemp House is full of weeds and the concrete is a mass of crumbling conrete. The stairs at Rosebery show that at least the weeds stand nice and tall as soldiers along the stairs

burch-sapling-pyggottA birch tree sapling on the stair entrance of Pyggott House. This is against building regulations to have tree saplings growing on houses but it at least shows that Tower Hamlets Homes has taken great care to renovate the external window frames but unfortunately the other pictures also show that the rest of the estate is not being maintained.

Apparently landscape gardeneres are instructed not to remove saplings unless absolutely necessary. It is absolutely necessary to remove the birch from Pyggott House.

canopy-RoseberyThere is an enormous tree canopy along Rosebery House. The two umbrella trees there are responsible for all the saplings along the street.

The argument was made that umbrella trees are considered as pretty. They may be pretty if they are visible but along Rosebery House, all we see under the dark canopy are the tree trunks and some leaves.

Unfortunately the large trees within the boundary of the estate take away all the light from residents.

I want to point out that it really depends on the desire of the residents how well the estate is kept. I have not seen any other estate in the area that has such a dense plant growth. Going across the park over the Hackney I see all the estates looking neat and orderly, well-trimmed and maintained. Even other estates within Tower Hamlets are better maintained.

In conclusion, we only should have as many plants as we can maintain responsibly and the maintenance of structure and concrete and fencing obviously is more important than the constant planting of even more plants on the estate.

Emergency measures needed over failure to collect rubbish

th-rubbishNot only have bin collectors gone on strike but also an action of vandalism of our bin lorries, stops rubbish being collected.

Whilst many are asked to self-isolate, not travel unless absolutely necessary, the only journey many will make is to deposit rubbish and recycling into bins.

How can this be allowed to go on when we have a pandemic forcing school closures and the cancellation of social gatherings?

We need the hygiene to also extent to our streets and not only our homes. Alhtough this picture is not from our estate, it is a general situation throughout the borough. I understand our own caretaker does his utmost to distribute rubbish through empty bin chambers, there is only so much room available.

Mayor, do something now.

The practical side of estate based gardening

Any community gardening, container gardening, shared gardening has to be seen as a practical logistics operation.

There are many factors that play a role

  1. Accessibility
  2. ability to maintain
  3. moving on
  4. water source
  5. light and space
  6. containers or ground based

These are just some factors playing a role.

The most classic form of community gardening is to have an allotment and there are some available through the council website, but I suppose there is a waiting list.

There are some newer initiatives on other local estates, which have had a very positive impact on the community and those estate based gardening projects usually utilise large lawn areas to grow container based gardens, whereby an individual gets a container to maintain.

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Rocky Park on Hollybush Estate is our most famous local gardening project, visited by Prince Charles. There are three other local food gardens with Cranbrook being most relevant to us.

cranbrook-garden
Cranbrook community garden volunteers. They have an event coming up on 25. April 2020, 11:30 – 14:30 on Cranbrook estate. See their Facebook page

Every gardening project needs to be highly maintained. It also needs to look pleasing and produce foods we are fond of. It can be quite labour intensive and time-consuming. So just putting up a few containers is not going to make a gardening project.

If you have a balcony, there are some great pot-based gardening items on sale currently in the local Lidl store. Like potato towers and herb  or tomato kits.

Plus on council estates, people come and go. Most plants need at least one season to establish and those require regular watering and weeding. People actually need to have the strength time and space to do so. Where is the nearest water source and can you carry water containers from the source to the plants?

Planting fruit trees results in ripe fruits falling onto the ground and attracting wasps. Even though this is bug friendly, it is very unsightly on your lawn and produces the growth of seedlings and needs regular maintenance. Fruit trees also get considerable crowns and can take away a natural light source for residents in flats. Bees and wasps will swarm around the rotting fruit, not good if you have children in the vicinity.

Perhaps, if people look at the practical side of community gardening and consider how much time they actually have doing it, we are getting a good platform on which to discuss the subject for Parkview estate.

Parkview is a landscaped estate with small parcels of land around blocks, which are meant for shallow rooted rose bushes and similar plants, requiring regular pruning. Unfortunately the wrong type of trees were allowed to establish around some houses as explained in the previous post.

I think it needs a proper strategic meeting with trained specialists to come to a solution.

Unsuccessful attempts

I tried to make use of some sunny spot on my north-facing front-garden and an up-stairs neighbour wanted to grow potatoes. Yet she never did more than putting the seed potatoes into the ground. She did not weed and even asked me to water them for her. Unfortunately it soon became an unsightly and overgrown mess. They have now moved away.

Reynolds-house-containers
THH what is the point of having those containers there?

Reynolds House in Approach Road has six containers placed outside the house, on the pavement and those containers have been abandoned. They were put there by Tower Hamlets Homes and look awful now. Some have, provided by Tower Hamlets Homes, plagues on but they are not exactly a glowing advertisement for THH community gardening in such a prominent location with plenty of footfall to and from the park.

 

 

 

proposed Beehives

Just come off the phone with Tower Hamlets Homes, who assured me that a beehive will not be installed in the estate without prior and thorough consultation of all residents. Unfortunately the latest leaflet of the Residents Assocation is missleading.

I have contacted Tower Hamlets Homes about that and queried whether a full risk assessment had been carried out and whether residents had been consulted. Apparently some people are allergic to bees.

A full assessment will now be carried out.