BBC BLOGS - Barling's London

Archives for October 2009

Homes for 'Heroes'

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Kurt Barling | 15:24 UK time, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

I think this looks like a case of chickens coming home to roost. But if you prosecute several military campaigns at once, inevitably giving military sacrifices a higher public profile, then you'd better make sure the way personnel are treated is acceptable.

The all-party parliamentary Public Accounts Committee last week lambasted the Ministry of Defence for allowing 12,000 military homes to fall into worse disrepair than the previous year.

Defective locks, inadequate kitchens, a lack of loft insulation and sanitary standards that would for example not be acceptable in the council housing sector have become, say the Committee commonplace.

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A bonus bonanza?

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Kurt Barling | 11:42 UK time, Thursday, 22 October 2009

It must be getting close to pantomime season. Reports of wicked bankers have resurfaced. These greedy bogeymen are ready to plunder the gold chests of the City of London at the expense of everyone else.

It's an enduring myth that everyone in the "City" earns a small fortune and their plentiful coffers are regularly boosted by gargantuan bonuses.

It is true that a small minority will be getting huge bonuses.

Of course if you are a Goldman Sachs employee or work for JP Morgan Chase then as bumper profits return so will the large bonuses.

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The devil in Southwark's details

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Kurt Barling | 14:56 UK time, Wednesday, 21 October 2009

So Southwark Council have embraced the spirit of openness. After the enforcement notice for high rise block Peronnet House was made available by a Leaseholder to the press last week, the Council decided it wanted to share this information with tenants.

Their lead Councillor on housing, Kim Humphreys put it this way, "we think it is important that all residents are able to understand what we are doing to improve fire safety in the borough."

Two months ago I queried why a report in 2000 had said Perronet House was a medium risk and whether there had been remedial works. I was told back in August that there were no significant problems with fire safety at Perronet House. The ground has clearly shifted beneath Southwark's fire safety feet.

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All change on the fire front

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Kurt Barling | 12:13 UK time, Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Amazing what publicising a cock-up can do. Because things have started to happen across a number of London Boroughs since we reported there was a backlog of several hundred Fire Risk Assessments for tower blocks across the capital.

Let's start with Lambeth Council. We correctly reported that they had only completed two Fire Risk Assessments.

One of those was on the Ethelred Estate after fire had broken out. We featured that block on the evening news and showed how nearly a year on from the fire, the damage had not been seen to.

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All tenants deserve a safe roof over their heads

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Kurt Barling | 14:11 UK time, Monday, 5 October 2009

Last week I reported on BBC London News that 19 London councils out of 32 had given us a full response to a Freedom Of Information (FOI) enquiry about Fire Risk Assessments (FRAS) on London's tallest residential tower blocks.

Four refused point blank to furnish information. The remaining Councils were still apparently no where near being able to provide full answers to four simple questions.

How many blocks over six storeys? The last major refurbishment? The date of the last fire risk assessment? What risk rating each building has?

Of course we are asking because it has become manifestly obvious since Lakanal that tenants and residents are not as safe as they had assumed and landlords need to be extra vigilant.

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