Please Fix The Door

Please fix the door

Make it like it used to

Working, like it used to

We could have a fire

We ought to raise the roof

Seventeen floors of families

Need this fire escape

Our government didnt learn anything from Grenfel

Please fix it before its too late

It’s a year since it broke

I’m fed up of complaining

Time to start shaming

Watford Community Housing Trust

Fix this now!!! You must!

My Social Landlord – Poem

 

My Social Landlord

I’ve moved my bed twice this year
I no longer wanted to peer
At the stain coming through my ceiling
It’s rather unappealing
And then there is the noise
Not just a distraction, it really annoys
It starts with the wind
Whistling through the building, it begins
To bang the faulty fire doors
The land lord knows
It’s all been reported before
Broken landing window
On the sixteenth floor
Should we be grateful that these doors open?
Not like the main one,
The exit on the ground floor
Broken for weeks that electronic door
And then there’s the lift
Or elevator, some say
All of us residents know the way
Avoid the dodgy lift and choose ‘lift 2’
You could be stuck in it for hours
Whilst they order a new part from Timbuktu
In very recent weeks
People have dropped between floors
But that does not bother our landlords
The lift grinds up and grinds down
Scraping noisily up the tower oh the sounds
Residents living in fear of what will happen next
Rubbish is everywhere
Parking is a mess
The cleaner should have retired some decades ago
But they keep him to ensure the show
From the foyer to the top of the block
To retire him now would be a shock
Then, just as corona virus hit
Our landlord made our heads split
It shared our personal details with thousands of strangers
Then had a cheek to tell us
“They are working hard to keep us from dangers”

By Samantha Harris
Unextraordinarybint.

 

Home – A Gentle Poem

I watch the clouds

Shapes form and drown

The sunlight glistens through

Formations of winged worlds

Make and break

On my horizon, true

Tick tock of time

Measures each view

In beat with the train as it chugs through

Listening to the gusty wind

Watching lights flash orange

Yellow, green, red, no blue

Tail lights snaking

Away up the road

Souls bracing against the cold

Now the sirens and flash of blue

Choppers slice, break the air above

Then silence again

The wind whistles through

The home I love

End

by Samantha “unextraordinarybint” Harris

 

My home looks like some sort of tower block transformer in shadow!

I love being at home nowadays – it has taken time and now I’m appreciating this space. Tower blocks are not everyone’s choice, but the views are amazing. What I see out my windows inspires me almost every single day – people watching for sure but more so the amazing English weather.

Have you made a move of home to cater for a change in your lifestyle, health or otherwise? How did you find the adjustment of living space and pace? Do you think one ever truly unpacks?

Thanks again for your time.

 

 

 

 

 

The Foxes Rise Again – Life Article

The Foxes Rise Again – As viewed from tower block in Greater London.

Against all the odds the vixen I’ve been watching for the last year has another two cubs and is sunning herself in the field opposite my home. She has brand new cubs, just two, this year.

I watched the family over the last twelve months and heard her screaming at night recently. I did some research and found that this was the mother forcing last years cubs out of the family home to fend for themselves. Reminds me of my relationship with my own children when they hit the teenage years… Just when are they old enough?

However, each day I’d look out the window and see all the cubs again playing together until a few months ago. Then suddenly the mum appeared to be on her own and looking a bit shabby and pregnant. I do admit to seeing a squashed fox or two on the road, so I’m assuming at least two of the three cubs from last year did not make it to maturity.

These new cubs look very healthy and playful.

The fox’s fur coat is red, it shines against the green grass. I watch as the new cubs play on one side of a fence whilst the mum rests, curled up, under a bush on the other side. Another fox, perhaps the father, strolls around the bushes where the female lies.

She will do well if any of her cubs survive. I wonder if the father will stay around for long this year. Last year he appeared to hang around for a couple of months.

Mumma fox’s den is in a tiny enclave just down from the muddy bank which leads onto the A41. This vixen has little land to roam. What she has is between the A41 and M1 and around a mile of small, busy roads to deal with between. The fox family don’t have to worry about other wildlife. There are the local dogs, which are generally on leads on the other side of the fence, plenty of pigeons, gulls and some Red Kytes.

From my watching position I see the grey feathered backs of several wood pigeons flying over the foxes. The white stripes with black tips, on their wings, make them look like road chevon’s. These birds are not worrying the foxes. The cubs continue to play and enjoy the fleeting sun on what is a rather cold May day.

I see no Red Kytes today. They are scavenger birds of prey. They are spectacular to watch in the skies from here when nearby. They have the same red colour, a gleaming reddish brown as the foxes. Kytes have markings across their backs too, although not the same as wood pigeons. When they open their wings and glide nearby the black markings can be seen clearly and are unique to each bird.

The young foxes chase each other around in a circle, turning quickly and bundling on top of each other. Their white bellies showing whilst they scramble with each other to be on top, just for a moment before turning and chasing starts up again. They chase each other again around the fence nearby to where their mother lies resting.

The father continues to sniff around the enclosure. He seems quite large compared to her and eager to check out the facilities. There isn’t much, if they are brave and fast enough, they could jump over the railway tracks, which are open here, and across the dump to the Sainsburys carpark. However, this is where I saw dead fox last so this is not a recommendation.

Other than that, I have seen families across the way throw food out over the fence which the local cats, birds and foxes all seem to enjoy. There is a fluffy, white cat which loves to hunt around down at the other end of the field. I’ve never seen the cat and the foxes meet each other.

I watch as a car pulls up, on the road side of the fence, feet away from the stalking male fox. The car’s contents spill out, laughing children and adults, who then pile into the little square house in the middle of the little square houses. The hedge hides the fox from the families view and the fence is between them.

The fox listens, his nose in the air, facing the car and his ears waiting to tell him if he has to run or not, whilst the vixen still lies curled up in the bush she knows she is safe, he has yet to have the same faith in the environment. He waits until the family are all inside the house before circling back over to where the mother and the babies lie.

Life is always moving; I go to make a cup of tea in the kitchen and when I return all the foxes have gone. Perhaps the family is settling down for their lunch or off on an adventure somewhere. I will look out for them most mornings and will see them grow. I’ll watch the vixen go through her circle of life. Long may it continue as foxes are so much fun to watch.

They remind me that life is so different for each and every living thing. Not all beings are born with a purpose or a need to leave a mark, they live and die without mention. They enjoy the world without being told how to appreciate it.

The foxes are happy and content to live on the little bit of land they have managed to grab for themselves. The mother appears to feel secure whilst the male is ready to disappear and let her get on with it. She will do her best to educate the cubs and then she will replace them.

Her family unit lasts for one year. I’m privileged to be able to watch. Whilst fox hunting is banned in England, she will continue to live without too much fear of humans. I hope that fox hunting is never brought back to our countryside. To me, it would be a step backwards, a step towards becoming more uncivilized again.

Let’s continue to watch the fox. 

fox
the fox

Dear Charlie, We Don’t Have Cladding.

ImagineaToweringInfernoInMundenview?withthenewfiresprinklersystemitcoulAtuallyHappenAndIWantToStopTheAbuseOfChilrenNowAndAbuseOfMenandAbuseOfWomenHappeningOnEarthAndAlwaysSaveTheAnimalsBecauseWeAreAllBests

BeingJudgedIsHorribleAndNowIsTimeOfJudgeWeUseThisMomentToReflctOnOurLivesPurpose


Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions regarding the retrofitting of fire sprinklers in Munden View in Watford, the block I live in. There is no gas allowed in the block, so it is all electric with decent RCD cover. It has no cladding.

I would like to take WCHT up on the offer of thermal imagining to ensure that the system that the fire bridgade has suggested is suitable for my flat in regards to the temperature trigger of 58 degrees.  It does get exceptionally hot up here. It’s one of the reasons I love it and most normal people would hate it.

The imaging is a great suggestion and the next two mondays I’m back at hospital but otherwise I am usually around and can be reached on all the contact details they have at the office for me or on this email.

Two inspection staff from WCHT come up this week. One of those unannounced visits that feels like a drugs bust they did a flat audit, to make sure I wasn’t subletting.

What a coincidence that the police just popped by the day before – just to see how I’m doing. It would be so easy to lose objectiveness when you feel you are being bullied. Especially having mental health issues. It would be so easy to become paranoid.

The threat of legal action and costs really helped. I do feel suitably comforted into allowing you to enter my legally let property and fit a fire sprinkler system that I do not want or think necessary as this tower block does not have cladding.

As WCHT inspection staff were here, checking my id and looking around, they saw the ceilings and understood my concerns.  So perhaps things are being dealt with. With the water damage from the roof we do need to ensure these bonded ceilings can take the continual load of the weight sitting in the system pipes.

The stay put policy, during a fire, is one I’m quite happy with. I was more than happy to move into the block. My professional experience has given me the knowledge that should the compartmentation be solid a building can have an extremely safe record of withstanding fires. It should be remembered that this is an extemely safe tower block and does not have cladding.

It is good to know that the fire brigade are so involved as it is them who need to control water supply. It has put my mind at rest that they had such a large input in the choice of the design for the fire protection these large tower blocks.

I spent some time removing access cabling from the flat when I moved in last year. I was concerned that should the cables fall they would block my only exit. I did have similiar concerns with the pipes for the fire sprinklers, as I am in a wheelchair.  I see that these things are all going to be looked into which is good to know.

You tell me that the fire sprinklers will not cost the tenants anything on our service charges – thank you, this is reassuring.

Your suggestion that I leave the flat whilst the fire sprinklers are fitted is an obvious one and I thank you.

I’m not sure where I would go for such a long time. Three days.  I’m hoping that the WCHT staff who came up yesterday could see that my situation is such I would not be medically facilitated for in most places, or indeed comfortable. I’m very aware, that with my conditions, being here would be impossible while it’s being fitted without heavy ear defenders for the diamond drilling at the very least. I believe human health and safety requirements demand that much.

Your answer regarding the appearance of the installment of the fire sprinklers is not yet answered. The actual installment looks very different from the show flat installment which some tenants saw but others who requested to see were not able. So, although I did promise not to continue to ask more questions I feel that requesting that you respond to this is not a new question but one already asked so I request, respectfully, that it is answered

I would still like the main fire doors between the floors fixed properly, as they blow open in the wind from the ‘air’ window in the communal area. It is very likely that this would fail in a fire. This is the only exit route. It is important. It is also a primary measure as mentioned in the fire report which ought to be done before secondary measures like fire sprinklers.

It should also be pointed out that several tenants pointed out the danger of what was happening when the cladding was put on Grenfell. They were bullied into accepting it. The tower block did have good fire safety record before it was refitted by the council. I asked you for the name of the system being installed in Munden View. You sent me..

Code of practice BS 9251:2014 gives recommendations for the design, installation, components, water supplies and backflow protection, commissioning, maintenance and testing of fire sprinkler systems in domestic and residential occupancies. These systems are primarily intended for the protection of life in case of fire and have additional benefits for property protection, environmental protection, sustainability of buildings and continuity of use, and firefighter safety

I copied and pasted it here, directly as it was in your email.  I’d like to highlight another point. You say that this ‘system’ has additional benefits, one of the listed is environmental protection – but the system you are installing is plastic conduit, boxed in with large amounts of untreated MDF.  Should the system fail, the environmental impact of the burn, fueled with the polyethene fillers would increase the environmental impact considerably.

Should the water supply fail to the block – as it has several times, and a fire take hold – the holes, plastic tubing, MDF and broken compartmentation would facilitate the burn up through the riser to every floor.

With access to the building becoming a problem most days – the traffic from the hundreds of new houses making it hard for ambulances to attend the tower blocks. This is something I have raised and have been told to be patient about.  I am failing to understand how the fire brigade would deal with a fire here or turn the sprinklers off should they be accidently, maliciously or purposefully triggered.

I am yet decided as to whether to include the name of the fire sprinkler system supplier. I suppose that will depend on what the job looks like and whether the installation in my flat leaks. I’ve heard others do presently.

Thank you for pointing out how important my flat is to the schedule of works. However, there are residents who have taken time off and arranged with your office to let the operatives into their homes so that they can fit these fire sprinklers.

One resident has done this three times now, and the workers haven’t shown up on the day arranged. These residents are just as important and shouldn’t have their time wasted in such a manner. It does seem silly to keep knocking on my door with no appointment when the operatives are not attending the confirmed appointments they have.

There are no questions in this email other than the one regarding the look of the installation. As you and David Wright made it very clear you do not want emails going to and fro. I leave this with you. As I say please do get in contact regarding an appointment for the thermal imagining detector.

Kindest regards,

How Does a Social Housing Estate Work in Herts County Council?

I would like to know what Watford Community Housing Trust, who are a co-op, are doing about all the complaints they have received about the enforced housing development and the parking? Especially the lack of health & safety regarding traffic flow and parking on the Meriden Estate.

Munden View and Abbey View towers don’t look great from the outside but the flats are lovely. Ideal for me as there is no garden to be maintained, a rubbish chute, community central heating and dedicated parking outside. I love my flat but there are a few problems with the management.

They have disabled parking at the front. I am able to park and roll. I can wheel over the car park, through the electronic doors, into either of the two, newly refurbished, lifts and up to my floor. It’s all one level. It has a great view over Watford Mirror Print building, the GP surgery and I can see up to the Harry Potter Studio at Leavesden.

At the front of my tower block is a disabled space. Everyone parks in it, usually it isn’t a problem. Only over the past few months it has become a problem because of all the workmen using the parking and the increased housing stock. Residents and visitors must use the disabled bays as there isn’t enough parking, especially at the front of the towers.

The parking was adequate for blocks built in the 1960s when most occupants didn’t own cars. The 180 flats have just eleven spaces allocated at the front of the block.

There is also a yellow crossed ambulance bay – the one at the front is continually blocked by needy families or disabled people. Taxi drivers drive into the only available access and wait. They are waiting for residents who need them but just one car takes up the only assessible area.

A resident, desperate to get an ambulance to get to her sick Dad was trying to move the taxi. This causes friction. The issue is that the road was blocked so easily by one taxi. The waiting ambulance then started causing traffic problems down Garsmouth Way. This has major road works on which the residents already have reason to be unhappy about.

I often park around the back as there is no space at the front. It is security detailed by ramp gates and key fobs. I discovered I couldn’t get out of the car park because the exit ramp was broken and I had to just go back home. I called Watford Community Housing Trust.

The customer services assistant told me to use the entrance ramp but to ‘be careful’– I didn’t bother telling her I was disabled and unable to move that fast.  I felt she had given very poor advice for anyone. Ideally the entrance ramp should be left down if the exit ramp is broken. WCHT were considerate to then send me a text informing me that the ramp was broken.

When I tried to complain to the council about the disabled parking and ambulance spaces not being enforced, I was told that it’s WCHT land and their responsibility.  I spoke to the local councillor for the ward and was told that they’ve sent over eighty emails to WCHT regarding the parking for the towers and, also, about the lights around the estate.

Disabled people are protected under UN convention under Anti-Discrimination and Equality Laws. These laws state that any organisation over fifteen people must provide access to facilities and services for certain protected group, including tenants.

The UK ratified this treaty before EU law and as such sits within The Equality Act 2010 in UK law. It gives rights, in law, to certain groups. They are known as protected groups.

Disabled people are one of these groups. As such they are to be given assistance in achieving equality. Funding is allocated accordingly by Governments and Local Authorities. Feedback is supposed to be gathered for any services they provide.

I feel that Watford Borough Council should take it’s responsibility towards disabled people more seriously and uphold the law. We have a right to proper unrestrictive access our homes whether that is in social housing or private. We also have a right to give our feedback so services can be directed correctly towards those in need.

It appears to me that some simple changes could make a huge difference to traffic flow and parking on the estate. The towers surely must come under some consideration with its positioning between the M1 and M41 and having just one small access road. If an incident were to happen how would emergency services get to the location?

I would request a visit from the Health and Safety executive and the Highways Agency and their input on the access and parking situation. With special attention to disabled access and the ambulance bay.

As a last request could you explain to me why, when you do enforce a disabled parking bay with a ticket, in other parts of the borough, it’s only a £20 fine rather than the usual £60? This hardly sends the right message.

Yours sincerely,

Samantha Harris