It looks like the North Yorkshire crime, fire and policing commissioner Julia Mulligan faces the chop following an extraordinary few weeks of controversy.
The final straw seems to have been a confrontation with other Tories on the crime panel who were unimpressed by her plans for a 9.8% increase in the amount that taxpayers will have to folk out for policing. The proposal was reluctantly nodded through yesterday.
A scrutiny panel initially blocked the move saying it was unclear how the funding increase would impact on critical street level policing numbers. Instead attention focused on the plans to appoint additional senior admin staff while the Commissioners personal expenses (credit card and hotel bills) also came under increased scrutiny.
The combination of the management of policing and fire activities under one roof had been claimed, by some, as likely to improve efficiency. This is now increasingly being questioned.
Julia Mulligan had also been subject to several bullying allegations over recent months, deflecting attention from her principal role in fighting rising crime rates in some parts of York. Her presence in the City has been very low profile over the years although she has an advice surgery scheduled in York on 6th March
Many people continue to doubt the need for an elected police chief. The old committee system provided adequate supervision without the additional bureaucracy and political posturing that the Commissioner system involves.
The next commissioner elections take place in 2020.
The York Council has published a report updating residents on the progress made in addressing issues revealed by the Grenfell Tower disaster earlier in the year. The Grenfell fire resulted in the deaths of 71 occupants of the high rise housing block.
It is the third in a series of reports. The Council had previously confirmedthat there are no comparable high rise housing blocks in the City
In the autumnthe Council had been told that 307 fire risk assessments (FRA) were needed in the City. The latest report says that an inspection contract is “currently being finalised with a suitably qualified contractor with a target date (subject to contract) for completion by March 2018”.
A schedule for the outstanding FRA reviews has been produced which prioritises those property types most at risk; i.e. converted houses/flats; sheltered and older persons housing and hostels; and blocks where fire incidents have previously occurred.
A more detailed check of fire spread prevention measures, e.g. between floors or rooms of a building, will be carried out as vacancies occur.
A national review of the effectiveness of building regulations has resulted in an interim report. The report concentrates on buildings of more than 4 stories in height (of which there are few in York). “Most professional bodies seem to accept that the current regulatory arrangements are not working”.
The national report concludes,
“The work of the review to date has found that the current regulatory system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise and complex buildings is not fit for purpose. This applies throughout the life cycle of a building, both during construction and occupation, and is a problem connected both to the culture of the construction industry and the effectiveness of the regulators”.
The York report will be discussed at a meeting taking place on8th January2018
Council reassures tenants of its fire safety approach
Fire exit in York flat block
The York Council has finally said that it will respond to some of the concerns raised following our audit of fire safety last weekend. It has still not confirmed that it has abandoned its plan to move housing management to an “arms length company – of the type that was complicit in the Grenfell Tower disaster.
It has issued the following statement.
“Following the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower, City of York Council is writing to its tenants and leaseholders living in its blocks of council homes.
The letter explains that the council has no high rise blocks – these are classified as having six or more storeys – and that none of its homes have aluminium composite material (ACM) type cladding which was used at Grenfell Towers. Also, the letter confirms that the council has an ongoing, rolling programme of fire risk assessments in place for all the council’s blocks with communal areas, including sheltered housing, hostels and older person’s accommodation.
The council installs hard-wired smoke detectors in tenants’ homes as part of the rolling Tenants’ Choice modernisation programme, and its gas engineers test detectors when they carry out annual gas service visits.
All sheltered housing schemes, older persons housing and hostels have communal fire alarm systems, and all vulnerable people living in them have personal emergency evacuation plans.
The letter recognises that there is always room for improvement, and that the council is currently developing a new fire safety policy for its housing stock which will reflect the most up-to-date fire safety practice.
As part of this policy work, the council will be reviewing how its existing fire safety procedures are managed across its housing stock. Any areas for development which are found will be dealt with urgently through an improvement plan. This will be overseen by Mary Weastell, the council’s chief executive and will be shared in more detail with all tenants when complete”. (more…)
Clearly a check needs to be made on those blocks which have not recently been redecorated to ensure notices are up to date.
Fire procedure notice
We think that the housing department needs to proactively communicate with tenants to reassure them following this weeks tragic news from London.
Combustible storage notice
York has relatively few high rise blocks but, even at those with 2 or 3 storeys, checks need to be made on alarm systems, lighting, fire doors and electrical safety.
The results of the latest Fire Service safety audit needs to be publicly displayed in each block
We think that tenants should be offered smoke alarms and free electrical equipment safety checks.
We hope that the council will ensure that both primary and secondary safety requirements are highlighted in any planning decisions made on new or modernised flat developments ( including conversions such as the one agreed for the former Nestle factory as recently as Thursday).
Fire exit direction sign
Finally the Council needs to reconsider whether it should be consulting on transferring its stock into the management of an “arms length company”. This weeks events point to the insensitivity of such arrangements with both tenants and Councillors frustrated at a lack of engagement by officials.
Better to refine the tried and tested Council housing model which at least allows tenants to exercise some control through the ballot box.
The present system is far from perfect but appears to be better than the other available options.
Fake Scottish £20 notes
Please be aware of two males trying to use fake Scottish £20 notes in York city centre. Please be vigilant and if you see anything suspicious please call us on 101. Crime ref 12170030308
UNIVERSITY SPEAR-PHISHING ALERT
The information contained within this alert is based on information received from various sources. The purpose of
this alert is to increase awareness of this campaign still in circulation. The campaign’s primary function appears to be
harvesting financial details via a link contained within an email.
The alert is aimed at higher education establishments; however police forces and governmental agencies have also
Fraudsters are sending out a high number of phishing emails to university email addresses claiming to be from their
own HR department. These email addresses are either spoofed or in some cases using compromised university email
The email claims that the recipient is entitled to a pay rise from their department and to click on a link to claim the
This link then takes you to a spoofed university website telling you to enter to your personal details (including
university login details and financial information). These financial details can then be used by criminals, and the login
details are usually passed around and sold for future fraud campaigns.
PROTECTION / PREVENTION ADVICE (more…)