PFI uPVC - the other side of the story

The PFI agreement, which Lewisham Council struck to refurbish Brockley's stock of Council housing has proven to be highly controversial and complex.

This email, which we received from one Council tennant offers an alternative perspective on the consortium's plans to replace old windows with uPVC ones:

I am a Council resident of Syringa House on Wickham Road. The day to day running of our estate was taken over by Pinnacle Housing and the upkeep by Higgins. We have been promised new kitchens, bathrooms and windows as part of a regeneration project on the interiors of our homes and the communal areas.

Well the time has come for the work to commence. We have been given the choice of paint colours, cupboard doors and work surfaces etc and told that soon scaffolding would be going up soon in order for the fitters to fit our brand new shiny UPVC double glazing windows in replacement of the old metal frames which go mouldy not matter how much they are cleaned and painted with moisture resistant paint, that have no locks and warp in the winter. I'm a ground floor resident and on more than one occasion my garden has been showered with glass as there is no adequate means of fixing them open in the warm weather and they slam shut and shatter.

As this was going to happen I have put off decorating a few rooms in my home. So I was very shocked to discover that we will no longer be getting our long promised UPVC double glazing windows but we would be getting a lick of paint and draught excluders. This isn't a problem for all the residents in the Wickham Road Estate just Syringa, Jasmin, Veronica and May Tree House. The reason we have been given for this is that our 4 blocks are part of the Brockley Conservation area and therefore are subject to different planning regulations to the rest of the estate, but there are already lease holder residents in the blocks who have previously been given planning permission for UPVC frames and have had then installed.

Across the road from us is Raymont House (a student halls of residence provided by Goldsmiths University) which a few years ago had a refit and all the windows were replaced with UPVC framed windows, Raymont House is also within the Conservation area.

Surely if this is a conservation area it should be one rule for all. Not picking and choosing as the Planning Dept see fit. Also would it not look better in the Conservation area if all the windows in the council property were uniformed. I also wonder what the Planning Dept are trying to conserve.

We feel that this is grossly unfair especially as this has been dangled in-front of our faces like a carrot.

I have contacted the Planning Dept and they told me that Higgins had been advised that they should use metal frames so that they looked the same as before - they had looked at the windows in the blocks from the outside, I asked if they had been inside the flats to look at the windows to see the damp and mould. They hadn't. I'm unsure if the project has run out of money and this is the easiest way out of a sticky situation but me and a number of residents will not simply accept this after we have been promised it for so long.

We are planning to draw up a petition of all residents effected, take this up with our local MP and Councillors and speaking to the local press. We hope that you will feature us on your blog.

116 comments:

Wickham road resident said...

They should get their pvc windows. Upvx are more secure, easier to keep clean, and they keep the heat in. If the Victorians were building now they'd use pvc. Those properties are distinctive anyway so there's no real damage done conservation wise if upvc windows are put in.

If this is about cost, then the contractor needs to be honest and say so. Don't blame it on the conservation area status.

I have sash windows, I want them replaced with doubled glazed version, but currently the cost is prohibitive, £10k.




They will have my support

Anonymous said...

I'd always assumed that Brockley Central was exclusively dominated by the chattering classes, so it's good to see that there are readers from places like Syringa on here.

Jt said...

"I'd always assumed that Brockley Central was..." Well you know what they say about assumptions...

Headhunter said...

This does sound completely ridiculous. On the one hand there is no reinforcenment of conservation area rules with regard to enormous signs (Wates, Upper Brockley Rd), satellite dishes (all over the place) and even regarding the construction of houses on gardens without planning permission (see post by a previous reader). Yet the council seems to wish to preserve the "character" of brick box infill social housing!

I assumed that there would be no problem with uPVC in these big blocks. I guess the answer is that some bureaucrat at the council has cross referenced the application to put DG in with his plan of the conservation area and rubber stamped a refusal without actually knowing anything about the area. Or as people have outlined here, Higgins or whoever has run out of money for the project.

The Cat Man said...

Hh,, honestly you of all people have been championing 'let's protect the conservation area planning rules' agenda for some time now.

How exactly do people expect the council to operate? Do you have any idea how many properties/ areas they have to administer?

I'm quite shocked that the people who advocate enforcement of conservation area guidelines are quite happy to turn a blind eye when they begin to understand someone elses perspective. What this highlights is ignorance on a massive scale. Unless everyone wants to pay double the level of council tax for a 'tailor made' solution ignoring planning rules why don't we shut up and let the council do their job for once!

Tamsin said...

I don't want to appear as a green freak - but aren't there mega-issues with upvc and ecological disposal when it reaches the end of its (not very long) useful life?

Anonymous said...

Actually the Housing Associations are unique in that they have a special dispensation within the Conservation Area - which means they can put pvc windows even in a Victorian building. And I neither understand it or approve.

fedupinbreakspears said...

we will support you in this why should some properties be allowed it and not others the 2 blocks of flats in breakspears rd now have dg what makes them special??????

Anonymous said...

I believe the above poster is a council tenant.

shb said...

uPVC windows are an environmental disaster area and a false economy given that they last 20 years max whereas a lot of us are still using our original Victorian wooden windows. For more info:

http://www.sustainablehomes.co.uk/upload/publication/A%20Guide%20to%20Alternatives%20to%20uPVC.pdf

Anonymous said...

moral panic!

tj said...

Couple of things we have found out from the PFI Leaseholder's group:-

*housing associations are not exempt - one in Breakspears Roads was made to remove the UPVC it had itstalled

*the cost of UvPC over a lifetime is higher than replacing originals

*enviromentally damaging - they are gainst the council's stated policy

* the blocks who are having UvPC are not protected by the conservation area - the ones that can't have them, have features seen as being worth keeping for streetscape needs - namely crittal metal windows

* many non-social housing tenants of the blocks do not want the UvPC because of the cost that will come to them - often in the 10s of thousands. Social housing tenants (those who mention here about getting the new kitchens etc) will not pay for the windows. However, the guidelines on whether they are to be replaced are purely on conservation rules

* if others in your block do have UvPC - either they will be asked to remove them - or you can all get UvPC

* don't think is is a funding thing - there is earmarked money for this - and large blocks in Breakspears are currently having the work done on windows as noted.

There is a similar group in Ladywell of tenants who want the UvPC put into their Victorian Street properties, who again are at odds with those who have campaigned for the properties to enter the new Ladywell conservation area.

As for Brockley - it is a conservation area - the character needs to be kept - this is not all social hosuing blocks. It would be interesting to know WHY the plannign department is rejecting UvPC in the blocks mentioned here.

Anonymous said...

So if you don't pay for your house you get a free kitchen too?

Sounds lovely, that would leave me with loads of spare cash to take down to Portland's.

Tressilliana said...

Social housing is rented to tenants. Presumably some of them get housing benefit but not by any means all social housing is inhabited by people living on benefit.

Anonymous said...

free kitchen, free bathroom, free new frontdoors, free upvc windows, and general refurb. The common word is free. As in loader.

tj said...

Tresilliana is right of course - not all social housing is for those on benefits.

The family next to me are in social housing and work and pay the rent, I think approx £100 a week for a 3 bed 2 story flat in the conservation area. It may seem wrong that the tax payer is also funding kitchens and bathrooms - but I would prefer anyday that someone is contributing by working and paying their rent - than not working and getting housing benefit to pay it.

Headhunter said...

Andy - That's a silly argument! The council don't appear to be "doing their job"! i just outlined ridiculous inconsistencies in conservation area regulation. Why does the council turn a blind eye to the things I outlined above, yet take a stance when it comes to uPVC in brick box infill social housing? Surely the charatcter that needs protection is the large Victorian buildings not the 1950s blocks? If this is "doing their job" then someone seriously needs toget involved, not "leave them to it for once"!

Tressilliana said...

I agree, TJ. I am happy to be a taxpayer and to help to support those of my fellow citizens who genuinely can't work. It could be any of us one day, it only takes a couple of bits of bad luck, after all. If people could be working and instead choose to try to live on benefits or on the fringes of crime, that's a separate issue that needs to be dealt with. It doesn't mean we should leave everybody on benefit living in damp, draughty flats.

Mitch said...

This "anonymous" guy/girl has got his knickers in a real twist hasn't he?

You know when you rent somewhere it tends to be the landlord who pays for any improvements to the property. Perhaps you've never had to rent, I don't know, but you wouldn't pay for these improvements if you didn't own the place now would you? In this case the landlord is the council/housing association.

fedupinbreakspears said...

yes i am a council tennant who pays full rent and council tax and i also have different windows in every room in my flat.It would be nice to have the same windows all round dg or not,but seeing as the council has already put 1 dg unit in before we moved in they now have double standards.

Lewisham wayward said...

No-one should have to live in damp conditions. If the upvc windows are more environmentally damaging then I'm surprised that wooden alternatives aren't being considered (I know they're way more expensive - but if the landlord's promised...). Ok, upvc manufacturing is not eco-friendly, but neither is having to crank up your heating because it's disappearing through metal frames. I'd support their right not to have to put up with excess condensation and mould.

Anonymous said...

Depends... is the mould organic?

BrockleyEgg said...

It's great to see that in 2008 Brockley is now so full of snobs! People who believe that if you live in Council Housing you are on benefit, have never done an honest days work in your life and are involved in crime.

I live in council accommodation as I work for the Government and cannot afford to rent privately and get a Mortgage (I couldn't afford one in a Month of Sundays on my pay-capped low salary).

I live in one of the blocks that will not be getting our new windows and I am very disappointed.

The current metal windows are disgusting! The condensation runs down them, no matter how much you clean them they still get mouldy. I have recently painted my window frames as I take pride in my home and have decorated it. I went out and brought mould killer, scrapped all the old mouldy paint off and used paint recommended for damp wet conditions and the mould is now growing through the paint. This cannot be healthy, there is a number of pensioners and people with young children in my block this cannot be safe for them.

Oh and while I'm on a roll those snobs!

Are these the people that send their children to the FREE summer sports schemes up on Hilly Fields provided my tax payers money (My Money!)? What make them so special that they can take council money and I as a Council Resident (who pays my rent every month) cannot?

The money is all from the same pot. We are just accessing the same funds in different ways.

We live in a country which has a great social care system to be accessed by ALL no matter where you live, whether you pay rent or a mortgage!

Anonymous said...

Shock horror a council tenant with the ability to read and write, someone needs to inform the Lewisham schools board that there’s been a hiccup in their plan.
maybe they should take more money from the schools and the previously proposed ESSENTIAL window repairs budgets and plough it in to something truly worthwhile like " Brockley Common " a unique space for the drunks and bums to congregate once the pub has closed.

And now for the tricky decision, as a council tenant living in a flat do I have beans on toast or chicken from a box for dinner? Its a tough one.

Monkeyboy said...

The first flat I owned had old steel framed windows and I can testify that they were awful - draughty, damp and hopeless at keeping the heat in, moved out to live in sunny Brockley. I think we had the same rule about replacing them. The law can be an ass at times.

Secondary double glazing could work? but not cheap if it's done properly I should think.

Headhunter said...

So every last red cent that Lewishm council has should be poured into social housing and support for the needy? Yes these are important but not the only projects taxpayers money should be tipped into.

You don't have to eat either beans on toast or chicken in a box. Learn to cook properly and you can eat healthily and cheaply. Why do "poor" people have to eat rubbish?

Brockleyegg said...

I think you missed the point there headhunter!

And just because you live in "Social Housing" doesn't make you poor or needy! I find that an insult!

Anonymous said...

Hey, what's wrong with beans on toast?

Name and address supplied, currently eating heinz on hovis

Matt said...

PLEASE do not lump all conservation area dwellers or home owners with that @ss who made comments about council tenants.

I feel like an @ss for being a part of this system, which is in principle is fine, property owning democracy and all that but which is in practice is ridiculous.

I have 200k mortgage on my FLAT recently I had to pay £15k to get the roof done and the place painted and I pay a monthly service charge of £100.

fabhat said...

Surely there are really only two points that really matter here?

The windows in the flats are not suitable for use - (I've lived in flats with metal framed windows, and while they look elegant they do get mouldy very easily) and resultant mould in the home can/will exacerbate asthma amongst other health problems.

The council has not found a suitable solution to the problem - instead it has used the conservation area guidelines as a get out clause, rather than replacing the windows with something more sympathetic, and/or offering secondary glazing.

To get caught up in a slanging match about council tenants etc is divisive and nothing to do with the subject really - if it was a private rented flat, the landlord would be replacing and fixing problems in the same way. Surely the best solution is for the council to fix the windows, but follow conservation area guidelines at the same time - can that be beyond their grasp?

The Cat Man said...

How about we all sit around in a circle, hold hands and sing 'praise be the lord'

I can bring a packet of digestives, organic of course

13:24/Anchor/Hannibal etc.. said...

Anonymous of 18:30. Are you the poster who objected to the 36 million being spent on sports taster sessions for schoolchildren? Your style looks familiar.

Anonymous said...

Those better be fairtrade hobnobs catman. I want the people to have made them to live in better conditions than non-cons!

Transpontine said...

If people don't like social housing and the people who live in it they have probably chosen the wrong part of the world to live in. Perhaps a small village in Surrey would be more to their taste than Brockley? It is a red herring to argue (cf Headhunter) that anyone expects that 'every every last red cent that Lewisham council has should be poured into social housing', the reality is that councils tend to mainly spend funds that have been earmarked for this purpose by central government and can't be spent on anythng else.

Anonymous said...

So let's just all have more kids, unrestricted.

Jadedofbrockley said...

I feel it necessary to the put the point, in the current climate of rising fuel prices and fast declining stocks of fossil fuels, not to mention the damage to the environment of heating a home and having most of it going out through these old metal windows (which I can say from experience do let in the cold/out the heat)...What is worse, uPVC manufacture or wasting energy heating a building that has a major insulation flaw at every window and door?

Anonymous said...

I think this is awful. Whether someone is able to pay or not; whether someone is fraudulent in obtaining council housing or in genuine need, everyone deserves to live in decent, safe, warm! conditions. We are in the UK after all. Alumninium or timber could be an option or uPVC even. No one should live in poor conditions.The bathrooms and kitchens should be adequate but basic.

I don't know what these particular buildings look like but all of those council flats are unsightly anyway so changing the windows won't make much difference.

ps the situation is what it is. the rich take care of themselves and the rest of us help the people who aren't able to help themselves.

life!, no need to be nasty!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I agree that you deserve it if you operate fraudulently... you have to draw a line somewhere!

Anonymous said...

that picture looks really nice. When i saw it there was no roof! what a shame it wasn't looked after

Anonymous said...

I agree but everyone still needs a home and unless there are proper procdures to prevent fraudulent claims and retrieve these homes so that they can be given to those with genuine need, then what can we do

Besides, I believe if you lie it's going to come back to you eventually

Transpontine said...

I know it's the nature of the blogosphere that it attracts comments from the kind of seething, loveless, embittered people whose only previous outlet was shouting at the TV or talking to their pint in the pub about how the nation's gone to the dogs... because nobody else wanted to listen. Still some of the comment here is really loathsome by even these standards. A perfectly reasonable post about quality of windows in local housing becomes a focus for stupid remarks like 'let's just all have more kids, unrestricted'. I know I shouldn't rise to the troll bait, and actually I do think people's childbearing should remain unrestricted (because I don't want to live in China), but more to the point why can't people stick to the point.

Anonymous said...

You believe there should be no limit on people irresponsibly bringing children into the world?

Yes there's a debate as to what's responsible and what isn't, but does that mean there shouldn't be a debate at all?

Its funny how people will obsess over lowering carbon footprints but as soon as you talk about conserving resources and maintaining wellbeing by limiting their snotty offspring they get up in arms...

Brockley Kate said...

Well said, Fabhat and Transpontine. Let's not start class war in Brockley just yet, eh?

The Cat Man said...

actually, I think a limit on offspring would be quite good but I think we have incentives already.

Isn't child benefit only payable at a high rate for the first child then it goes down for subsequent children? I'm not too close to this admittedly.

I'm also increasingly in favour of reducing alot of benefits for adults (to encourage them to get off their a*se) and distributing more to the kids to provide equal opps ((it's not their fault they have bad parent role models)

It's only since living here that I've seen how some people in our supposed 'community' really take the piss.

Back to windows, the council should just stick to administering the planning laws. All council properties have to be improved to meet new EU standards by 2010 so they will have to do something about double glazing etc.. Anyway.

If the council contractor refuses to change the windows I suggest do some research on implementation of minimum EU housing standards.

nobbly brick said...

I have one child, aspire to the upper middle classes, have two cars and a semi detached house on the cusp of the conservation area.

I also have (some kind of) Upvc windows in the front of my house, installed by the previous owner whilst the house was outside of the conservation area.

I work largely from home and shave once, maybe twice, a week.

I have no comment to make on the windows debate...

Anonymous said...

Once or twice a week? You filth!


Unless that's your minge.

Tressilliana said...

You do get less child benefit for the second and any subsequent child but it isn't that much of a difference. It wouldn't act as much of a disincentive to have another child. The cost of childcare/prospective loss of earnings if you can't afford childcare would be much more important to a mother/couple in work.

Anonymous said...

these matters can ce brought up at the local assembly.

The Cat Man said...

what's a minge? :0)

Tressilliana said...

I wouldn't recommend googling for it on a work computer. Suffice it to say, I don't think you will have one.

drakefell debaser said...

The one size fits all approach is obviously not working and the rules of the conservation area need to be reviewed. The council website defines the area as follows:

Brockley Conservation Area is a leafy speculatively developed Victorian suburb. Its special character comes from the variety of architectural styles and detail, the leafiness of gardens and trees as well as the distinctive street layout.

No offense to the inhabitants intended here but the post war social housing blocks do not fit this architectural merit description and should be exempt from the window rule. Another way to look at it is if the area includes a ‘variety of architectural designs’ then council flats with UPVC windows is certainly within that variety. EU directives on housing also apply. I don’t particularly like UPVC but until a better alternative is found I am sure they will look better than mouldy window frames and few conservation area hawks would begrudge the fact that these were fitted. The estate down St Norbert Rd has had its refurb done with new windows and its appearance has improved.

The council should also review its own attitude to how it enforces the rules and adopt some consistency because the cynic in me believes this decision was based on funding rather than preservation.

Regarding child birth: Unrestriction has led to restriction in China. Fair enough if you can afford to raise lots of kids properly that will be of benefit to society, but multiple Vicky Pollards spawning Jade Goodies does not help anyone.

Headhunter said...

Brockleyegg - If you aren't poor and/or needy what are you doing in social housing at the expense of the state? Yes, yes, you may pay the rent yourself but it's vastly below market rate. Perhaps you should think about passing your funded home onto someone who actually needs it...

Anonymous said...

Due to spending all my money on living in the Con area I can only afford dog food sandwiches.

Tressilliana said...

Brockley Egg said this in his/her first post:

'I live in council accommodation as I work for the Government and cannot afford to rent privately and get a Mortgage (I couldn't afford one in a Month of Sundays on my pay-capped low salary).'

I can well believe this. How in the name of the wee man does anybody afford to buy a dwelling in London these days? I'm in my late 40s and when we bought our first house it was £42k on a 95% mortgage. Houses like that in Crofton Park go for nearly £300k now. Starting salaries aren't six times what they were in the mid-80s, so it's hardly surprising that we're in for another big fall in the housing market.

The Cat Man said...

Hh, I'm with you on that one my fellow brockleyite. What I don't get is why do people on low salaries think the world owes them something? If they are adults (and have already made lifestyle defining choices) then it's their own fault they are in that situation and should get up off their backside, remove themselves from the TV and learn to do something new. I came from a poor family, first to get a degree etc if I can do it so can they. And we used to live in a council house too.

nobbly brick said...

all that working-class ambition and still doesn't know what a minge is

the education system has failed again...

Brockleyegg said...

Headhunter you really have no idea!

I'm not poor and needy but I am by no means well off either. If I did privately rent or have a mortgage I wouldn't be able to pay the bills or feed myself.

I think you need to look at the world around you! The way things are in the capital with the housing market I would never be able to afford to live elsewhere. Why should I have to move out of the city and the area where I was born and breed to find enployment and affordable housing. The chasing of cheap housing only pushs house prices up in that area anyway and effectively prices locals out of the housing market. Much the same as has happened in Brockley.

I'm curious to know how long you have live around here as I can remember when people wouldn't move into Brockley if you paid them. The local community has worked long and hard to turn that around and through a lot of hard work from a majority in the area and but the wider community improving it's attitudes to living on cleaner, safer streets this has been achieved.

It seems like alot of people have forgotten what Brockley has and should always be, A highly diverse area, with a diverse community. On my road there are Council properties sat next to properties which are worth a serious ammount of money. Everyone has a place in the community and people like you are ruining that.

But before this blog turns into a total slanging match lets return to the original subject. The mouldy windows the council expects it's tennants to live with as they are trying to conserve a look of Old Council Housing. Why can't our blocks conserve a look of old buildings evolving and improving. Surely by doing relatively minor repair works it will make people take more pride in their home and the surrounding area which will boost more that just the residents but the wider community as a whole.

RANT OVER!

Brockleyegg said...

Oh and by the way...
I do have a good but sadly it doesn't pay that well. The wonderful Prime Minister believes that capping Civil Servant pay will help with the current ecomonic problems. Last year we were offered a 1.5% payrise which is not in relation of inflation.

And I do not feel the world owes me something just because I live in a Council house. I've worked hard to get where I am but sadly the current housing prices are not that kind to people trying to get a foot in the door of the housing market.

Anonymous said...

A propos of not much, but does anyone remember that TV documentary about Brockley a few years back, where they compared a single parent family in a council flat, moaning about how crap Brockley was (including boring old Hilly Fields) with a Robert Winston lookalike sipping red wine with his Broc Soc pals in his conservation area home, talking about how wonderful Brockley was and how nice it was to take the kids cycling around Hilly Fields?

Very entertaining, but it is nice to see posts on this thread that dispel some of those stereotypes.

Anonymous said...

What was it called?

Tressilliana said...

Can't remember what it was called, but yes, it was very entertaining. I've mentioned here before that the 'poor' family (it was very much 'rich' vs 'poor') lived in a council flat on Wickham Road. The mother talked at length about how little there was for kids to do. 'There is a park, but you have to walk up a hill to get there', she said, as if this was an utterly unreasonable thing to have to do. Ten minutes absolute tops to walk from there to Hilly Fields. Extraordinary.

BB said...

OK Brockley Egg, I understand the area should be diverse, and also that there is a place for us all along side each other. But I understand HH point too, because perhaps there is too much abuse of the system. Lady next to me in a 4 bed conservation area flat with her two children of 20 and 15. She has a job in local government (with the council), drives a very nice premium mark convertible only 3 years old and generally "appears" to have lots of disposable income.

I think it's sometimes those who have paid for their housing, are facing rising mortgage payments, that are tightening their belts and worrying about the bills

The Cat Man said...

and sadly, this is why things do not change. The rich find it hard to understand the poor and the poor find it hard to understand the rich. It's ignorance, that's all. Comes about from lack of experience of other peoples situations. That is why councils/ governments often make choices that are hard to comprehend-collectively they see both sides of life.

Without sitting down and taking the government worker for a coffee to discuss their constraints and possibilities to change it will be impossible to rectify.

And everyone could do with advice, I'm financially sound, but will be taking gym lessons to get rid of this little stomach I've developed over the last 5 years - it's called 'wanting the desire to change' as opposed to 'moaning about things and standing still' in life. And quite frankly alot of poorer people really need to wake up and smell the coffee burning!

13:24 said...

I remember that programme. The woman was also constantly whining that nobody from 'the council' had been round to fix a window that had been broken for some months. I remember thinking "Well, why don't you get off your fat backside and learn how to do it yourself, luv, like the rest of us have to" She ended up getting a house more suited for her and her kids needs outside of London.

The middle class bloke (a barrister?) and his family were pretty irritating too, and I'd be surprised if they haven't upped sticks to the home counties also.

Of course this was telly, so how much more moderate footage was left on the cutting-room floor is anybody's guess.

The Cat Man said...

and I hate to bring multi-culturism into the debate but any government system relies on it's citizens being truthful and behaving in a certain way with certain homogenous values. Either the system needs to adapt or people need to integrate more.

The problem with adapting the system for multi-culturism is that for every £1 5 communities would get 20p, for example, but no-one gets £1 so we all lose out and feel alienated.

Culutrally of course, British values are generally reserved and in ward looking. So compared to other cultures competing for resources from a central pot we lose out again, a double whammy. Our own fault really. If this comment gets deleted I'm going to scream.

Anonymous said...

And the broken record begins to play again....

Anonymous said...

I don't see the direct link to multiculturalism. On a venn diagram there'd be an overlap between being from another culture and being irresponsible, but they wouldn't be concentric circles.

Tressilliana said...

I don't know what you're blethering about here, TCM, but the 'poor' family in that documentary were white working-class.

drakefell debaser said...

I had a mild flashback to some tedious math lessons but that is a commendable use of the Venn Diagram anon.

Monkeyboy said...

Can we get the Celia Hammond Trust in to neuter the Cat?

(by the way just because you're narrow minded and inward looking please don't assume we all are)

South Safe n Sorted said...

With you MB, for a short while I rented out my spare room to earn a few quid. My lodger was a Polish girl, who came to London for a short period to gain management experience before moving to Switzerland to persue her career. She told me that from where she came from Britain was viewed as being the most tolerant and forward thinking in terms of it's acceptance of other cultures. So, I, for one, disagree with your small-minded and petty Xenophobia / thinly veiled racism. As for your rich/poor quote, where exactly do you see yourself?! Your views are clearly still from the "I bought my council house under Maggie" era. Get real Cat Man, the 80's are dead.

Anonymous said...

cat man - ha, your name should be Alf Garnett!

Anonymous said...

He's even got the black fella living next door.

annnon said...

I wish more working class and or people in social housing posted on this forum.

Anonymous said...

What makes you think they don't?

I'm proper salt of the earth, me!

Anonymous said...

cheese

Anonymous said...

lets move to the moon dont need windows there

Anonymous said...

well im working class and live in social housing.I work hard look after my disabled husband and get no help as we are not entitled to it as i earn about £5 to much to qualify but hey life goes on!!!

Anonymous said...

have you been to the moon then or are you just guessing that they dont need windows

uPVc is ok sometimes said...

Give the people the windows they want. Apply rules sensibly and make people's lives easier.

Anonymous said...

"let them have windows", said the conservation area, when all they wanted was fried chicken.

fabhat said...

Programme on R4 now (12.43) about the problems for leaseholders and upgrades to flats etc.

Nina said...

'generally "appears" to have lots of disposable income'

Have you ever heard of "credit cards"? You don't need a house to have debt, especially if you're on a low wage and have made the wrong decisions.

The level of oversimplification that goes into judging other people's lives never fails to amaze! Is everything cut and dry in your life?

Anonymous said...

Exactly, some of the comments are so judgemental and facile. The attack on the civil servant who's renting from the council. "How dare live within your means? Why haven't you got an eye-wateringly large mortgage, like me?"

Anonymous said...

I don't think a lot of people had much choice than to stretch themselves with a mortgage. Either that or pay over the odds in private renting or have no security of tenure. I would also imagine that many of these people would be waiting for a decade plus to be offered social housing. (unless they work for the council/HA and know which boxes to tick?)

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 21.06 = well said. I'm tired of people thinking I'm any better off than some - I say some - of the people in social housing.

Pete said...

Of course they should replace the windows. The council houses in the conservation area which were built post war are unlikely to have much in the way of architectural merit. uPVC may not be the answer for whatever reason but clearly the existing windows aren't either.

As for all of this rubbish about council tennants etc the way the economy is going people shouldn't be so cocky. You can't be sure that you will be in a job this time next year and in that case you may need to fall back on state help. It's what the welfare state was developed for.

I think a low paid civil servant is just the sort of person who should be entitled to social housing. Many civil servants get paid much less that £20k p.a. and getting subsidised rent would seem to me a very good idea - in fact it should almost be part of the terms of their employment.

The Cat Man said...

Yes, that will make public services more efficient no end....

Tressilliana said...

You'll have heard the phrase 'Pay peanuts and you get monkeys'. It is not reasonable to expect public services to be brilliantly well run if the overall remuneration package is not competitive, taking into account not just salary but also benefits such as final salary pension scheme and access to key worker housing.

Statement of the blindingly obvious no. 432.

Anonymous said...

Indeed and just to add the police and the armed forces get subsidised housing and that's perfectly fair in my mind.

The Cat Man said...

Actually, with my objective hat on, , from an economic perspective, the evidence is non-conclusive to say the least.

If wages are cut, for example, the decrease in productivity is often less thereby increasing efficiency. There is also evidence to support the other way around - like you say, increase wages, increase productivity.

I think there are constraints though, and the labour government has in the last 10 years given civil servants some good wage increases. Thereby I would argue we are near to the upper constraint to efficiency in alot of civil servant jobs.

Not all, I might add.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha, catman and his Daily Mail economic comment again... Priceless!

The Cat Man said...

no, far from it anon - 5-10 years ago I would of said we were not at our upper constraint and advocated high civil servant wages.

I guess I'm a floating voter, of sorts!

Pete said...

It's not just a case of paying high wages, it's a case of paying a wage that people can afford to live on. Clearly the civil servant here qualifies for social housing - that should tell you all you need to know about the sort of salaries that many civil servants are on.

Anonymous said...

More of a voting floater...

Anonymous said...

Pete, then the aforementioned civil servant should not work in that job. if he/she can do another job, then he/she should and the civil service then has to pay more to get anyone.

let's be clear - civil service jobs and pensions are extremely attractive for the security they offer. noone seems to be pricing that in.

Sue Luxton said...

The Council is not sticking to its own guidelines here. It recommends residents get wooden frames on sustainability grounds, then goes ahead and sign a 20-year PFI contract which involves ripping out wooden windows and replacing them with UPVC.

If you're a tenant living outside the conservation area, you will get double glazing (albeit crappy UPVC, even if you live in a period property), roof insulation and wall insulation (if you have cavity rather than solid brick walls) to improve the thermal efficiency of your home. If you live inside the conservation area you will get roof insulation and unless your windows are so rotten/rusty that they are irreparable, your windows will just be overhauled and maybe a bit of draught-proofing added, but no double-glazing or wall insulation. So conservation area tenants will have less energy-efficient houses and higher fuel bills than those outside the area.

This is a wasted opportunity to make homes warmer, reduce fuel poverty and tackle climate change. Over 50% of London's housing stock is solid brick wall, like most of the Victorian housing stock round here and we urgently need to roll out a programme to insulate these homes properly. Yes, it costs more and is a bigger job than putting in cavity wall insulation, but we need to do this (assuming no ones wants to demolish all the housing stock in the Brockley Conservation Area and replace it with new low carbon housing).

The Brockley PFI housing scheme could have been a flagship project to pilot such large-scale insulation of solid brick walls and good quality wooden-framed double glazed windows (which if well-maintained will last over 100 years) but sadly it appears that the consortium's lawyers ran rings around the Council's legal team and we have ended up with little more than a paragraph on thermal efficiency improvements in a 1500-page contract, and little obligation on the part of the contractors to do more.

Green councillors in Brockley and Ladywell are continuing to follow up on this (and other concerns raised with us about the PFI scheme) and trying to get improvements/clarification on all this, but it is taking a while and not dissimilar to wading through treacle . . .

I will post more on my blog about this soon. Jean Lambert MEP published a good report on the challenges in insulating London's Housing Stock last year, if you're interested in all that.

Tressilliana said...

Anon 17.01 21/9/08: you said 'Pete, then the aforementioned civil servant should not work in that job. if he/she can do another job, then he/she should and the civil service then has to pay more to get anyone.

let's be clear - civil service jobs and pensions are extremely attractive for the security they offer. noone seems to be pricing that in.'

The better qualified and the more able you are, the more choice you are likely to have over what work you do. Some people choose to work in the public sector for idealistic reasons but they still need to eat and keep a roof over their heads. If a significant proportion of the most able people look at public sector jobs and say 'No, I need/want more money than that' then many of those jobs are, surely, likely to go to less well qualified and experienced people, who can't get better paid work.

Which brings me back to what I said before:

'Pay peanuts and you get monkeys'.

Anonymous said...

shocking statistics of the day. we employ 3 times more civil servants than in 1997. and our manufacturing related jobs are a fifth of what they were.

err...what are these civil servants all doing???

we need URGENTLY to encourage people out of non jobs such as "monitoring" roles that we existed happily without for decades and INTO small businesses that create other real jobs and produce for the economy.

otherwise, it's india/china/dubai for me and my family.

Headhunter said...

I read a similar statistic as this a while back. Something along the lines that 100-150 years ago a civil service of a fraction of its current size ran the entire British Empire in the days before efficient communication via email, telephone or even reliable international mail! And today we have an enormous, burgeoning public sector which can barely arrange to surface the roads properly....

Anonymous said...

Tressilliana,

The real reason public services are not "fit for purpose" is that in bygone days able well educated people (the grammar school types) were restricted in the jobs they could do by lack of social mobility. Accordingly, they became civil service clerks, nurses, admin people in companies etc.

Now, quite rightly, these people get a chance in life and become the people they used to serve - hence the decline in standards of nursing, admin etc. The level of people doing these jobs has sunk.

It is an inevitable negative consequence of social mobility (a good thing) and our country in some ways becoming more competitive.

the answer?

Better education and by that I don't mean 17 year olds thinking a degree in something pointless from blankety blank college is education. My observation from working life is that graduates of the vast majority of universities still need to learn basic grammar and how to express themselves. The very poorest could do this a generation ago.

The problem is that education is long term and govts short term in their thinking. Qed.

Brockley Nick said...

Where did those "shocking" stats come from? I bet neither is true.

Did you know that manufacturing output is actually as high as it was 10 years ago? Our manufacturing sector is actually bigger than France's.

Yes, jobs have been lost in the sector (though these losses have been more than made up in the services sector), but that has left the UK with a highly competitive, high-value manufacturing sector, which is in stark contrast to the flabby, inept manufacturing sector of the seventies and eighties.

Brockley Nick said...

anon, I think you mybe confusing the fact that manufacturing employment has fallen by 20% with the idea that manufacturing employment is only 20% of what it was. The two things are very different.

http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto112520071227575162&page=2

Brockley Nick said...

sorry, here's the link

http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?
news_id=fto112520071227575162&page=2

Anonymous said...

wld have been sunday times or weekend ft. not sure which.

maybe the flab has transferred to the public sector instead?

maybe voters will realise that the common factor is Government. Govt seems to create an environment in which flab is tolerated for too long.
no idea why...maybe because politicians aren't business people?

ahh....if only Alan Sugar ran UKplc (scary thought actually!)

Brockley Nick said...

and here's another you might like:

http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id
=fto072520071518046341&page=1

UPVC said...

UPVC doors and windows are widely used in home improvement projects as they are weatherproof, strong, durable, safe and virtually maintenance free.

Tressillian James said...

a bit like wood then...but not as attractive

Anonymous said...

Until I read this blog I had no concept that uPVC could be unattractive... still don't, really.

Headhunter said...

It's not terrifically ugly it just looks incongruous on Victorian houses. Original Victorian window frames were engineered to minimise woodwork and maximise glass area. The effect is that the framework of the window is very slender and delicate. Next time you're out and about, take a look at a UPVC window frame. The plastic framework tends to be extremely thick and chunky, very heavy and obvious.

Modern wood framed double glazing is not as delicate as original Victorian frames, however not anywhere near as clumsy looking as UPVC. I don't really understand why UPVC window frames have to be so thick and heavy. Perhaps it's something to do with the plastic needing thickness to support the weight of the glass? Anyone have any clue why no one has come up with a more delicately framed UPVC window?

Anonymous said...

There's so much focus on possessions and property and so little on people and relationships and what is really important in society.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon - where is this focus you speak of?

Anonymous said...

Plastered all over messageboards like this one by "concerned citizens".

Maybe the thickness of the plastic surround helps to prevent them being put through by an elbow.

Brockley Nick said...

Much of the objection is based on environmental grounds (as well as the aesthetic).

Otherwise, you'll find there is plenty of discussion of "people and relationships" here - all of the three stories today could fall in to that category - unless you consider an article about how roboty the robot exhbition is to be excessively materialistic.

Please feel free to suggest a specific topic more to your liking. Always happy for new ideas.

tyrwhitt michael said...

More simple reason - one is sustainable the other is'nt.

I'll let you figure out which.

The new UPVC windows in Tyrwhitt Road became less obvious this week-end but only because the installer's sign has been taken down.

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