Update on fire safety in Glasgow Kelvin

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy many of my constituents who reside in high rise tower blocks have contacted my office seeking reassurance over their own fire safety.

With a view to ascertaining the safety of these blocks I wrote to the Chief Executive of Glasgow City Council, all Housing Associations, and all Universities with student residences in Glasgow Kelvin to seek assurances about their fire safety measures, both in materials used and also with a view to their procedures should a fire occur. While investigations into the London fire are still ongoing, I feel it is crucial that as much support, reassurance and certainty is provided to concerned residents here in Glasgow Kelvin at this time.

I asked for a brief report on how many residential multi-story blocks are in Glasgow Kelvin, who the relevant property managers are, when they were constructed, and how many have been refurbished recently. I also asked if exterior cladding has been applied and whether it was the same or similar to the cladding used in the Grenfell Tower and whether or not it is fire resistant. I asked for more information about the fire safety measures and procedures currently in place including the number of blocks that currently have sprinklers, fire and smoke alarms, and fire doors; what fire action advice is given to residents in the event of the fire; and how often fire assessment checks are carried out. Finally, I’ve asked to be kept up to date on any reviews and assessments that are currently ongoing, including any recommendations for improvements, and I will post this information on my website when it is available.

While I have not received a response from GCC or the Universities at the time of publication I have heard from the majority of Housing Associations and can now provide you with a brief outline of what they have said.

Glasgow Housing Association and Cube (The Wheatley Group) own 82 multi-story blocks of nine stories or more. My colleagues and I have been assured that the cladding used is different from the cladding used in Grenfell, and all building regulations, designed to prevent the spread of fire, have been followed. Fire non-combustible materials have been used, and many blocks have been fitted with sprinklers in the bin store areas with a programme in place to complete this work. Daily patrols are carried out to identify any risks in multi-story blocks. They have assured me that further recommendations or advice following investigations in London will be implemented.

Glasgow West Housing Association are undertaking a review of the cladding and external wall insulation installed in their properties, and all materials meet minimum Scottish Building Standards Technical Regulations. This includes fire separation between flats and installation of non-combustible materials. There is ongoing safety awareness, including regular fire safety checks, concierge patrols, and investments in bin shoots.

Partick Housing Association own one multi-story block, Fortrose House in Fortrose Street, where there are 53 properties and 43 PHA tenants. It was refurbished by PHA in 2012, and the cladding used was phenolic foam insulation board, manufactured by Kingspan, which has a zero rating for inflammability. During recent renovations 43 flats had fire-rated flat entrance doors and smoke detectors fitted, along with an alarm system and fire doors in the common areas. There is no sprinkler system fitted, however a fire risk assessment is due on the 5th of July and all safety measures will be reviewed then. The insulation material in the over-cladding will also be verified by sampling and testing if necessary.

Maryhill Housing Association own 3 multi-story blocks of 21 floors, with 360 flats in total. They also own 12 multi-story blocks of 8 floors, with 336 flats in total. The blocks were constructed prior to stock transfer in 2011, and all blocks have fire resistant Recticel and Structherm cladding. All have fire resistant doors, hard wired smoke alarms and dry risers on each floor. Regular fire safety checks are undertaken, and the next fire audit will be carried out in July 2017.

Queens Cross Housing Association own 10 multi-story blocks in Dundasvale, Woodside (Cedar Court) and Westercommon. The cladding used in Cedar Court is called StoTherm Mineral K, and in Dundasvale Court it is PermaRock Mineral Fibre, both are non-combustible, have no cavities between the boards and the concrete walls, and meets the Scottish Building Regulations. The communal fire doors and ground floor exits are also currently being upgraded, and there will be fire escape balconies and new canopies at the ground floor level. A new internal working group has been set up following the tragedy and will look at all aspects of fire safety.

Fire Safety Advice
All housing associations in Glasgow Kelvin are working closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue service. In the event of a fire, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service advise multi-story residents to stay in place to allow controlled fire-fighting and evacuation, as deemed appropriate by them at the time. You can find more detailed advice about what to do in the event of a fire, via the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service leaflet here. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will continue to carry out additional operational assurance visits to high-rise buildings across Scotland, and since the Grenfell Tower fire, over 200 visits have been carried out by the SFRS to residents in high-rise buildings.
I have been informed by colleagues that SFRS are awaiting confirmation that no privately owned buildings have the cladding, and local authorities are completing these investigations as a matter of urgency.

Scottish Government
As you may be aware, Scottish Building Standards are devolved, and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service works closely with local authorities and housing associations to ensure the safety of occupants in high rise buildings. Following the events at Grenfell, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Communities established a Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety. Last week this Working Group reported that all 32 local authorities across Scotland have confirmed that no council or housing association high rise domestic building have the type of cladding reported to have been used in the Grenfell tower – Aluminium Composite Material (ACM).

Please be assured that along with my colleagues in the Scottish Government, Westminster, and Glasgow City Council, I will continue to monitor the situation over the coming weeks and publicise more information as I have it.

Contact Details
Should you have specific concerns or questions about the block you live in, please contact your local housing team. These details can be found below:
Glasgow Housing Association or Cube HA – The Wheatley Group are in the process of setting up a helpline, so in the meantime contact 0800 479 7979.
Glasgow West Housing Association – Direct calls to the property services team on 0141 331 6652.
Partick Housing Association – Direct calls to 0141 357 3773 or visit their office at 10 Mansfield Street. More information is also on their website: http://www.partickha.org.uk/
Maryhill Housing Association – Direct calls to 0141 946 2466 or email enquiries@maryhill.org.uk
Queens Cross Housing Association – Direct calls to 0141 945 3003 or email contactus@qcha.org.uk

The Scottish Fire & Rescue Service are at available to offer more information and should you wish to arrange a fire safety assessment please contact them directly on 0800 0731 999.

If you have any difficulties do feel free to contact my office on 0141 339 7693 or via email on sandra.white.msp@parliament.scot

New plans for soft opt-out organ donation system unveiled

SNP MSP Sandra White has welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to introduce legislation for a soft opt-out system of organ and tissue donation, which was backed by 82% of those who contributed to their consultation.

 

The 14-week consultation looked at various ways to increase the number of people being referred to the donation services in Scotland.

 

Currently in Scotland, organ and/or tissue donation after a person’s death only occurs if they have given advance authorisation or if their nearest relative authorises on their behalf.

 

A soft opt out, or deemed authorisation system, means that a donation can go ahead if the person has not opted out or told their family they do not wish to donate.

 

Commenting Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin said:

 

“Today’s decision to legislate for a soft opt-out system is great news for our health service & for many people who are waiting for life saving surgery.

 

“With the amazing help of donors and their families, NHS Scotland has already made great progress, including a 34% increase in donors this past year alone. Scotland now has the highest donor rate in the UK.

 

“However, we can do better and moving to a soft opt-out system is a really important step towards further reducing the number of people in Glasgow Kelvin waiting for transplants.

 

“We should always keep in mind the tragic circumstances that give rise to organ donation and forever appreciate the selfless acts of donors and their families that enable others to live. Organ and tissue donation saves lives and is one of the greatest gifts a person can give.”

 

ENDS

 

NOTES

 

https://news.gov.scot/news/increasing-organ-and-tissue-donation

 

Background

•             The consultation ran from 7 December 2016 to 14 March 2017.

•             Anyone wishing to join the Organ Donor Register can do so by visiting the Organ Donation Scotland website. This website can also be used by those who wish to update their registration details or to register their wish not to be a donor.

 

The Donation and Transplantation Plan, 2013-2020 has been the catalyst for meaningful improvement in organ donation in Scotland with:

•             146% increase (54-133 between 2007/8 and 2016/17) in the number of people who donated organs after their death.

•             In 2016/17, Scotland had the highest rate of donors per million of population of any UK country – currently 25.5 donors pmp.

•             45% of the Scottish population have joined the organ donor register (over 116,000 in 2016).

 

Social Security Bill – Landmark legislation published

Historic legislation to establish Scotland’s first social security system has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

The Social Security (Scotland) Bill will give the Scottish Government the powers to deliver eleven benefits devolved as part of the Scotland Act 2016.

It also provides powers to top up reserved benefits and provides a mechanism to pay a Carer’s Allowance supplement at the earliest opportunity.

Chairperson for the Social Security Committee, Sandra White MSP, agreed with the Social Security Minister, Jeane Freeman, who said it represented a significant milestone in the process of transferring these social security powers safely and securely.

Ms White said:

“This is an extremely important day in both this Parliament’s history but more importantly for Scotland and the history of devolution. The Social Security Bill provides this Government and this Parliament the opportunity to make different choices – and shows that we can create a fairer and more just society when we take matters into our own hands.

“I believe strongly that everyone has a right to social security – so much so that I have put these principles on the very first page of this Bill.

“The core principle that everyone has a right to social security are embedded throughout this Bill – whether it is how entitlement to benefits is determined, a more just review and appeals system, or the Government’s decision to remove the private sector from disability benefit assessments.

“As the First Minister has often repeated, dignity and respect are at the heart of our social security policy – a marked contrast to the approach that the current UK Government is taking, as their unjust welfare cuts continue to cause misery, push more people into poverty and attract international criticism.”

Background

The Social Security (Scotland) Bill is available online

The Bill sets out an over-arching legislative framework for the administration of social security in Scotland, making provision for operational functions such as overpayments, fraud, error, re-determinations and appeals.

It places a duty on the Scottish Ministers to give assistance to persons who are entitled to it and provides a brief description of each type of assistance that Scottish Ministers will give. Secondary legislation will provide detail on what assistance will be available and how the system will work. This will follow once the Bill has been agreed by the Parliament. The legislation is expected to come into force within the current Parliamentary term.

The first social security payments to be delivered by the Scottish Government from summer 2018 will be the increased Carer’s Allowance, followed by the Best Start Grant and the Funeral Expense Assistance from summer 2019.

The full list of the eleven benefits being devolved to Scotland can be viewed on the Scottish Government website. 10 of the 11 devolved benefits, totalling around £2.9 billion of annual payments, will be delivered directly by the new social security agency itself. Discretionary Housing Payments will be delivered by local authorities.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland opens new collaborative funding opportunity

SANDRA WHITE MSP today welcomes an exciting new initiative being launched by the Big Lottery Fund Scotland – Early Action System Change. This new fund is aimed at making a fundamental shift towards early action in Scotland.

 

Early Action System Change has received £7.5 million of funding in order to make grants to help bring local public and third sectors organisations together to redesign and re-organise their services. Not only this but they will also test new approaches that make early action central to their work.

 

As Big Lottery Fund Scotland highlighted in a series of blog posts, an early action approach aims to prevent societal problems from occurring rather than coping with the consequences. This in turn helps people to live longer, happier and healthier lives. But to get to that point, the systems and support that are in place right now require change.

 

MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, Sandra White, commented on this new fund:
“The Big Lottery provides vital funding to many organisations and this is another example of their efforts to assist in preventative measures as well as fund ongoing efforts to tackle issues.

I have no doubt that these funds will go to great use in reframing how many of the problems we face as a society are addressed. I wish all applicants the best of luck and look forward to engaging with those recipients who are based in my constituency.”

 

Through this fund Big Lottery Scotland will therefore award a small number of grants of up to £1 million that are intended to fund the first steps towards changing the way the whole systems work. This means they are interested in the overall system and the particular areas where there are opportunities to act earlier.  I fully support this fund and hope to see this change fully involve the people who will benefit from and participate, and those who work to deliver support and services.

 

With this investment, the fund will focus on supporting these three themes:

  • Healthy & Active Lifestyles
  • Children, Young People and Families
  • Women and criminal justice

 

In order to apply The Big Lottery Fund have provided the following information:

“Applications to the fund are made by way of an expression of interest form available on our website.

 

If you would like to know more you can sign up for our webinar which will take place at 10:30am on Monday 10 July 2017. Don’t worry if you can’t attend. We’ll share the recording online and if you have any questions you can get in touch with me.

 

For more on system change and how we see our funding contributing to this area, read this Holyrood article by our Scotland Director, Martin Cawley, who tells us people and partnerships are key to successful system change.”

 

ENDS

GLASGOW KELVIN RECEIVES MAJOR INVESTMENT IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING

SNP MSP Sandra White has welcomed the announcement of a further £1.75 billion Scottish Government investment in affordable housing across Scotland, which includes £286 million investment in Glasgow City Council.

Councils and house-builders across Scotland’s 32 local authorities will have the opportunity to plan ahead with grant subsidies guaranteed, for the first time, for the next three years until 2021.

In 2018-19, £532 million will be shared amongst local authorities – rising to £591 million in 2019-20 and £630 million in 2020-21. Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin said: “The announcement that Glasgow will receive £286 million over the next three years provides the certainty that Glasgow Kelvin and the sector needs to keep progressing and ensures we keep up the momentum to reach the Scottish Government’s target of 50,000 new affordable homes by 2021.

“Increasing the supply of affordable homes is a key SNP commitment and plays a vital role in helping to tackle poverty and inequality in Glasgow Kelvin.

“Committing funding until the end of this parliament will help ensure that Scotland leads the way in building homes that are high-quality, efficient and affordable, and will strengthen our house-building sector and the estimated 14,000 jobs that the affordable housing supply programme supports each year.

“The SNP believes that everyone in Scotland deserves a warm, affordable home and with a huge number of affordable homes approved last year, we are making great progress towards that aim.”

ENDS

[Notes for editors

Affordable housing covers homes for social rent, affordable rent and affordable home ownership. The full breakdown of each Local Authority’s Long term Resource Planning Assumptions are available on the Scottish Government website. The Scottish Government recently confirmed £422 million would be allocated to councils in 2017/18 as part of the Affordable Housing Supply Programme.  The latest Quarterly Housing Statistics covering the first year of the Affordable Housing Supply Programme are published by the Scottish Government.]