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Chalcots refurb is a disaster, but who signed it off?

15 March, 2018

Last summer’s evacuation at the Chalcots estate

STEP by step Camden Council is trying sort to out the mess left behind by the private companies that refurbished the Chalcots estate more than 10 years ago.

First, the council declared the cladding unsafe in the wake of the Grenfell disaster – and evacuated all the tenants.

But we never felt this went far enough.

We had seen first-hand the poor standard of workman­ship, and were able to produce photographic evidence of it.

But far worse – as exposed by our campaign – were the plastic window frames, a fire hazard in themselves.

Not only that, the private companies had reconstructed the frames in such a way that they allowed a cavity to run from floor to floor – yet another fire hazard.

We campaigned on this, too, with the support of many of the tenants.

And now the council has announced that it will replace all the windows subject to a decision by the cabinet next week.

This will be a costly project of £30million but sensibly the council will be able to cover some of the bill by diverting instalments due under the terms of the Private Finance Initiative contract.

Many tenants are still smarting over the rushed nature of the evacuations and, inevitably, the manner in which families were treated. Their annoyance is understandable.

Not only that but suspicions remain that the tower blocks are unsafe.

But the council appears to be dodging the main question left by the debacle of the PFI scheme:

Which council officials signed off such a botched job? This cannot be side-stepped.

Keeping our elderly safe

ONE of the most common symptoms of dementia, perhaps the most disorientating of neurological disorders, is to wander.

In safe spaces, it is often encouraged and can serve to maintain a sense of independence when so much other dignity is lost.

However, quite obviously, it can prove dangerous for a loved one to walk off, confused and without memory of where they are and who they are.

Thus, it seems incredible that the door entry system at the Wellesley Road Day Centre, Camden’s flagship care home – recently built and run by a private company approved by the council – is not secured with a code.

This is common in care centres and does not cost much to install. The staff clearly want it and have asked for it – on several occasions.

The missing code system alone throws up a question mark over the company responsible for the centre.

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