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CROMWELL TOWER HOUSE GROUP http://www.cromwelltower.org
Minutes of the A.G.M. on November 28th 2017 at 19.00 in the Podium Room
1. Chairman’s welcome
The Chairman, John Tomlinson, welcomed those attending. There were 29 members at the meeting including the following committee members: Alan Budgen, Frances Calman (Membership Secretary), Christopher Gorman-Evans, Laurance Jones (Treasurer), Jane Northcote (Secretary).
We were joined by Luke Barton, Cromwell Tower House Officer from the Barbican Estate Office (BEO) and Helen Davinson, Resident Services Manager, Barbican Estate Office (BEO).
2. Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from the following members: Lesley Bradshaw, Julian Hale, Mike Bristow, Desmond Day.
3. Minutes of 2016 AGM (Accuracy)
The minutes of the 2016 AGM were approved as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.
4. Matters arising from the minutes of the 2016 AGM
Appended to the minutes of the 2016 AGM was a letter from Peter Finch, who was a lobby porter, thanking us for our good wishes and gift. With great sadness we now record that Peter Finch has died. We remember Peter with warmth and gratitude.
The bollards in Cromwell Place seem to be effective in preventing high-speed U-turns. One bollard has been replaced following damage.
The programme of lift lobby carpet replacement continues.
5. Financial Statement
The Treasurer presented the financial report for the last year. The accounts were approved by the meeting.
6. Chairman’s Report
The tragic fire at Grenfell Tower on June 14th 2017 triggered action to ensure our Tower is safe. Fire Risk Assessments are in progress, and will now be done annually. This is further discussed in item 9, below.
House Group members have addressed issues concerning local licensed premises. The Brewery intends to use premises on the North side of Chiswell Street as an entertainment venue. They made an application for opening times extending to the small hours of the morning. Individual members wrote to oppose these hours. Members of the Committee and other House Group members met managers at the Brewery and their lawyer. We wrote a joint objection as a House Group. The Brewery responded by reducing the opening hours, and assuring us that they had measures in place to reduce the noise and disturbance from patrons leaving the premises. We therefore withdrew our House Group objection.
During the summer, drinkers at the Jugged Hare occupied the entire pavement, forcing passing pedestrians into the path of oncoming cars and bicycles. This crowd also obscured visibility into Silk Street. The House Group Chairman met the lawyer representing The Jugged Hare. The House Group Committee wrote to the manager of the Jugged Hare, to draw his attention to the problem, including pictures. The manager responded by placing staff outside to keep drinkers close to the wall, leaving the footway clear for passers-by.
The double yellow lines outside Sundial Court on the North side of Chiswell Street have now been changed, so that the pedestrian area extends continuously in a straight line on that side of the street. This is a considerable improvement. Parked vehicles had previously blocked the footway so that people had to walk in the road. The improvement was made by Islington Council after about a year of lobbying by the House Group Chairman, supported by the House Group.
We now have our full complement of four regular Lobby Porters: Andrew, Flo, Abdi and Kalpesh. Abdi and Kalpesh have recently joined the team. We welcome them, and residents made positive comments about them both.
The Chairman offered thanks to Christopher Gorman-Evans for the orchids on the reception desk, and to Julian Hale and Helen Likierman for the plants in the planters outside the front door.
Thanks to Christopher for the orchids, and to Julian and Helen for the plants outside the front door.
7. Pictures in the 01 lift lobby
The “Van Gogh” exhibition was well received by residents. The current exhibition (pictured above) is also praised. Alan Budgen said that the next exhibitor will be an Indian artist, who is the sister of Kalpesh, our lobby porter. Members thanked Alan for his work in organising these exhibitions.
8. Tower Intercom
In previous years the intercom has been faulty, causing concern and expense. Luke reported that the faults were temporary, and that he is taking no further action.
9. Fire Safety
Helen Davinson and Luke Barton updated us on the latest actions of the BEO on Fire Safety:
- the “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)” on the City of London website will shortly be updated to include answers to all outstanding questions. To find these FAQ, search for “City of London Fire Safety”, scroll down, and follow the link to “Barbican Estate”. Or try this link: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/housing/Documents/barbican-estate-fire-safety.pdf
- Fire Brigade advice has not changed: the Fire Brigade continue to advise a “stay put” policy.
- the Front Doors and surrounding areas are currently being tested for Fire Resistance.
- There is a programme of Fire Assessments “Type 3”. This is a more rigorous assessment than previously, and means that a sample of flats will be examined. The PDA plumbing ducts will be included.
- Smoke alarms: On request, London Fire Brigade will do a Home Safety visit to your flat, free of charge. The Fire Brigade recommend actions to improve fire resistance in individual flats, and recommend or provide and fit smoke alarms. Contact them via their website or 020 8555 1200.
- Fire door: each tower flat has a fire door, in the living room in a typical flat. It opens inwards. You are advised to check that your Fire Door works. If it is stuck, you can call the Barbican Repair Line 0207 029 3909 to request a BEO engineer to open the Fire Door. In an emergency, the door is opened by breaking the glass.
Helen and Luke answered members’ questions:
Q: There is an electrical conduit duct, inside my flat front door. When I looked inside the door, I saw a continuous vertical ‘chimney’. What action is taken to stop smoke rising up this duct into my flat?
A: This is the duct containing wiring. It is accessed only by Barbican electricians. The door must not be opened by residents. The duct contains high-voltage cables which are dangerous. It is not a continuous ‘chimney’: the duct is compartmentalised, and cannot carry smoke from floor to floor. The door is fire-proofed. The Fire Risk Assessment will check that all ducts, including this one, are properly resistant to prevent smoke travelling from floor to floor.
Q: What about the PDA (plumbing) ducts? Can fire or smoke travel up there?
A: As part of the Fire Risk Assessment, these ducts have been examined. We will also ask the Building Control inspectors (District Surveyor) to check that alterations are compliant. In some cases we have seen non-compliant materials used in the PDA ducts and this is being dealt with via the respective Long Leaseholders.
10. Beech Gardens
Helen Davinson reported that “Phase 2” of the Beech Gardens refurbishment is due to start in summer 2019. The area to be treated is Cromwell Highwalk, and the Podium under Ben Jonson. This is primarily a waterproofing project. All the tiling and flowerbeds will be removed and replaced. The same garden designer will be used as for the West side (Phase 1).
Q: Will the yellow Exhibition Hall Corridor be removed as part of this project?
A: (Helen Davinson) The tender has not yet gone out. This structure is owned by the Barbican Centre, who have said that they will keep it until they are sure that the future users of the Exhibition Hall will not need it.
Q: Will all the trees be removed? Where will the birds nest?
A: (Helen Davinson) The trees will be removed. The podium was not designed to support trees. The birds could use Fann Street Wildlife garden. We will feedback that residents want habitats for birds.
Q: Was the current project (Phase 1) a success? Is it waterproof?
A: (Helen Davinson) Mostly. There was some movement, and we are in dialogue with Crossrail. The blue water currently in a small rectangular pond on the podium is a test for leakage.
11. Electrical Cars
John Tomlinson reported on a Working Party to provide charging points for electrical cars in Barbican Car Parks. There will be some charging points in the Cromwell Car Parks. The successful contractor has been appointed with installation expected to take place in the New Year.
12. Leaseholder Service Charges Working Party
This Working party was convened under the Residents Consultation Committee (RCC), triggered by an above-inflation increase in Service Charges over the last decade. Jane Northcote reported that the working party had found that officers of the BEO currently have no formal measures in their job descriptions which specifically reflect the interests of long leaseholders. Yet BEO officers manage projects and services which, for the most part, are funded by Long Leaseholders via the service charge. Accordingly, the Working Party has recommended that “the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) of officers of the BEO include specific and measurable targets to demonstrate that they have controlled or reduced costs recharged to long leaseholders, while maintaining service levels.” This recommendation has been accepted by the RCC. The working party has also asked that it be allowed to continue its work. Members thanked Jane Northcote for her efforts.
Q: Why do we pay for Lobby Porter sick leave and temps – shouldn’t this be funded by the City, as they are City employees?
A: (Helen Davinson) The Lobby Porters work only for the Towers, so they are paid for only by the Towers. The costs of the 12 Lobby porters are pooled and funded equally by the three Towers.
Q: Why are there so many temporary Lobby Porters?
A: (Helen Davinson) People are entitled to take holiday and sick leave. Shift work is known to cause an increase in sick leave. When a substitute is needed, the BEO look first at the local team, so ideally you get cover from one of your regular porters. If no regular porter is available we look across the estate. We also have agency staff who know the job and the estate.
13. Election of Committee
Lesley Bradshaw has announced her wish to resign from the Committee. Lesley has been a great contributor to the work of the House Group, notably during the lobby refurbishment. She has also applied her energy to ensuring that our summer party and AGM meetings are well organised and successful. The Chairman acknowledged her contribution and we wish her well.
Mike Bristow has indicated his willingness to serve on the committee. He has already helped the Committee by representing Cromwell Tower at meetings on Fire Safety, and reporting back. He was proposed and elected.
The 2017/8 committee is:
John Tomlinson (Chairman) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Frances Calman (membership secretary, email@example.com)
Laurance Jones (Treasurer)
Jane Northcote (Secretary, Jane@JaneNorthcote.com)
The Chairman closed the AGM at 8:15pm.