Do some underpaid public officials and greedy politicians take money from developers to look the other way?
Do fish swim?
The result of such official larceny can be tragedy. A horrible example is Grenfell Tower, where 71 London residents died on June 14, last year.
Gas pipes were not insulated – bare invitation to sparks. No sprinklers were installed. The gravest defect was the Tower’s deadly cladding, according to The Guardian newspaper, which reported:
The Reynobond PE (polyethylene) panels selected over the Reynobond FR (fire resistant) panels were £2 cheaper per square meter. The aluminum-composite panels, which have a core made of the flammable plastic polyethylene, were installed as part of a recent overhaul of the 24-story tower near Notting Hill. The cladding was quickly identified as appearing to help to spread the fire.
The flammable panels saved contractors $2.70 per 10 3/4 square feet, just a few thousand dollars out of millions spent on the project.
The cladding is banned for such use in Britain.
The Department of Communities and Local Government, which oversees building regulations, said:
Cladding using a composite aluminum panel with a polyethylene core would be non-compliant with current building regulations guidance. This material should not be used as cladding on buildings over 18m in height.
Grenfell Tower renovation work was inspected 16 times by Kensington and Chelsea council. The checks failed to prevent the use of the flammable cladding. These inspections went on for nearly two years during the £10m refurbishment project between 2014 and 2016.
During this time, is it believable that no public official noticed the cladding was banned on tall buildings by the government?
Conservative-run Kensington and Chelsea council said that the first inspection took place on August 29, 2014 and the last was July 7, 2016, when a completion certificate was issued.
The revelation of deadly cladding on Grenfell Tower forced new inspections of 173 other high-rise social housing blocks also fitted with aluminum cladding
In September the government reported that only eight passed building regulations connected to fire safety.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid said tests carried out by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) found 165 of the blocks with unsafe cladding.
Judith Blakeman, a local Labour councilor, who represents Grenfell residents, said:
This raises the question of whether the building regulations officers were sufficiently competent, and did they know what they were looking at. It also begs a question about what they were actually shown? Was anything concealed from them?
In 2012, designers Studio E Architects proposed fire-retardant cladding, but the product that was eventually supplied for the Grenfell Tower works had the flammable polyethylene core.
This has led to a “far-reaching” criminal probe, involving about 250 investigators, and led by Scotland Yard, to examin how the fire started, how it spread, and how the building was managed and maintained, its fire safety measures and details of the refurbishment.
What happened to the Grenfell residents forced from their apartments?
Politicians nearly never fail to amaze.
To the ire of taxpayers, Javid said that 68 “affordable” furnished flats, previously planned as part of a luxury apartment complex in the richer part of the borough, are being made available.
These flats are in a complex where prices start at £1.6m ($2.17m). They were bought from the developer, St Edward.
The Corporation of London will run them as part of its social housing stock. Some public housing in London may now be the best in the world, and most expensive to provide.