Grenfell Tower refurbishment used cheaper cladding and tenants accused builders of shoddy

first_imgWater is sprayed by fire fighters on to the burning 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower Credit: Jack Taylor Getty Images  Exposed pipes in flats at Grenfell Tower  A demonstrator holds a banner outside Kensington Town Hall  Flame-retardant cladding could have been fitted to Grenfell Tower for just £5,000 extra, it emerged yesterday, as Kensington and Chelsea council was accused of carrying out a cut-price regeneration project.The contract to improve insulation and replace heating and water systems in the block was supposed to be carried out by building firm Leadbitter, but the contractor said it could not do the work for less than £11.27 million, £1.6 million above the council’s budget.The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation – which maintained the council’s housing stock – put the contract back out to tender and Rydon said they could carry out for £8.7 million, 22 per cent less than Leadbitter’s original estimation, even though the plans did not change.But throughout the regeneration work, residents at Grenfell complained about slapdash workmanship, posting images of exposed pipes laid across resident’s carpets and voicing concerns that boilers had been fitted in the middle of hallways, near to fuse boxes. The Local Government Association said councils across the country were carrying out ‘urgent reviews’ of their high rises with local fire services.Lord Porter, chair of the LGA said: “Fire risk assessments and the construction of buildings are being reviewed and double checks are being made to ensure remedial work recommended under previous assessments have been carried out. Councils are also working closely with tenants to review and offer fire safety advice.”But Dr Kostas Tsavdaridis, Associate Professor of Structural Engineering at the University of Leeds said builders often put appearance before safety.“There is a trend nowadays where architects and designers use decorative materials to make buildings more interesting and aesthetically pleasing,” he said.“Although theoretically they are fire resistant, in most cases they are high-temperature resistant instead of fire resistant. But even if they are, smoke and fire will spread through the joints and connections.”The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea declined to comment. Fires still burning inside Grenfell  An investigation by Construction Enquirer found that 20 high rise blocks in London have been fitted with the Grenfell cladding system, including including five towers in the Chalcot Estate in North London where work was carried out by Rydon and Harley Facades.Rydon said it had met “all required building control, fire regulation and health and safety standards”.But London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that tower block residents were ‘terrified that the same thing could happen to them.”Sharna Leuschner, 21, who lived opposite Grenfell Tower described how pieces of burning cladding flew towards her building.”It was coming onto our balconies, they could have caught light as well. It was terrifying,” she said.Today it emerged that in 2016 the London Fire Brigade had asked the council to check all tower blocks to make sure self closing systems on fire doors were working, following an arson at Adair Tower in October 2015. Yet no fire safety inspections had been carried out on the block after 2015.   Fires still burning inside Grenfell  Nick Paget-Brown, the Tory leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, said there was not a ‘collective view’ among residents in favour of sprinklers.He told BBC Newsnight: “We are now talking retrospectively after the most enormous tragedy, but many residents felt that we needed to get on with the installation of new hot water systems, new boilers and that trying to retrofit more would delay the building and that sprinklers aren’t the answer.”However the Grenfell Action Group said it had continually warned the council about fire safety problems in the block.Even before the work began, the group complained to the council that it seemed the contract had been ‘awarded to the cheapest bidder regardless of the quality of works and the consequences to residents.’After the building work was completed in June 2016, nine out of 10 tenants said they were dissatisfied with the way the improvements works had been carried out, while 68 per cent said they had been lied to, threatened, pressured or harassed by the tenant management organisation. Water is sprayed by fire fighters on to the burning 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower  Tottenham MP David Lammy whose friend Khadija Saye died in the blaze, said: “You can’t contract out everything to the private sector. The private sector do some wonderful things, but they have for profit motives, they cut corners.“We’ve all been up to those tower blocks,  they exist right across the country.  Where are the fire extinguishers on every corridor? Where are the hoses? Are the fire doors really working? Where are the sprinklers?”According to the British Sprinkler Association it would have added just 2 per cent of the overall cost to add sprinklers throughout the building. In 2013 the government wrote to every local authority to encourage them to retrofit sprinkler systems in older tower blocks following the Camberwell fire in which six people died.But only 100 older tower blocks in Britain have been retrofitted with sprinklers since 2013 and around 4,000 still have not. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. They accused workmen of ‘cutting corners’ and warned that damage to their flats had not been repaired while rubbish was allowed to pile up in communal corridors, blocking emergency exits.Relations with Rydon broke down so completely that Grenfell residents pinned up posters to their doors warning workmen not to enter their homes.Today Omnis Exteriors said it had been asked to supply cheaper cladding to installer Harley Facades which did not meet strict fire-retardant specifications.The safer sheets were just £2 a square metre more expensive meaning that for an extra £5,000 the building could have been encased in a material which may have resisted the fire for longer. The cut-price version is banned from use in the US and Germany for tall buildings. A demonstrator holds a banner outside Kensington Town Hall Credit:Reuters  Grenfell Tower on fire Credit:Natalie Oxford AFP Grenfell Tower on fire  Exposed pipes in flats at Grenfell Tower last_img read more

Seat allocation controversy has boosted Ryanairs annual revenue by at least £15m

first_imgThe ongoing furore over Ryanair’s seat allocation policy has coincided with millions more of the airline’s passengers paying up to £22 per return flight to reserve where they sit.The carrier has faced a barrage of criticism in recent weeks with travellers lining up to complain that they had been split up from their friends and family after refusing to pay the fee – despite cabin layouts on the airline’s website often showing rafts of unclaimed seats together. He said reserved seating was introduced in response to customer demand for passengers wishing to avoid the “free for all” for seats during boarding, and that the reasons many random allocated seats were in the middle of a row was because those who pay to select generally choose window or aisle seats.“I’ve flown in randomly allocated seats and had both window and aisle seats,” he said.The airline, which launched its Always Getting Better campaign in 2013 to refresh its image, is the largest carrier in Europe, by passenger numbers, and regularly reaffirms its commitment to ensuring high load factors drive fares down. Jacobs said fares are set to fall 7 per cent by March.This week Ryanair announced a drastic change to its carry-on luggage policy. From November, anyone who does not pay £10 per return flight for priority boarding now faces having their hand luggge placed in the hold. Passengers have also accused the airline of “punishing” those who do not pay for seat reservation by placing them in a middle seat. One story to emerge told how a party of 23 found themselves sat in a line across 23 rows. But Ryanair has repeatedly denied that its seating policy, or any computer algorithm that assigns seats, has changed, and reasons that the majority of reservations are for windows or aisles, leaving only middle seats free.But, while social media is awash will negative sentiment towards the airline, it would appear that the controversy has had a positive impact on Ryanair’s revenue. The fee to reserve a seat costs from £4 per return flight, up to £22 per return flight for extra leg room – and more customers than ever are paying it.Kenny Jacobs, the airline’s chief marketing officer, revealed to Telegraph Travel that since the start of the year, the percentage of Ryanair customers paying for seat reservations has risen from 40 per cent to half. Up to July this year, the airline has carried 73,870,000 people, so that equates to 7.4 million more passengers paying the fee – raising Ryanair’s annual revenue by at least £15m. “It’s settled down down and it’s working well,” said Jacobs. “We’ve seen more [passengers paying for seat reservations] – about 10 per cent more – if I go back to the start of the year it was about 40 per cent and now it’s about half. Use regions/landmarks to skip ahead to chart and navigate between data series.How Ryanair (and Easyjet) has grownLong description.No description available.Structure.Chart type: line chart.The chart has 1 X axis displaying categories.The chart has 1 Y axis displaying Passengers (m).Chart graphic.How Ryanair (and Easyjet) has grownHow Ryanair (and Easyjet) has grown – Highcharts CloudPassengers (m)How Ryanair (and Easyjet) has grownRyanair passengers (m)Easyjet passengers (m)200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016255075100125HighchartsChart context menucenter_img @Ryanair why not together! For sure your ramdom allocation donit on purpose just for us to buy the seat! @easyJet we always seat together! pic.twitter.com/r9MqesO6NQ— Alexandre Gomes (@alegomessp) September 6, 2017 “As the story evolved people said it used to be 0 per cent and now suddenly everyone has to take a reserved seat, but it was 40 per cent already and now more and more customers choose to select particular seats, since we introduced reserved seating about three years ago.”Jacobs said he did not believe some of the negative media coverage – which included a BBC Panorama investigation – was “warranted”.“When I read some of the headlines, it was just silly season,” he said. “Has Ryanair gone back to being the bad boy of aviation? No, we haven’t.”last_img read more