Still flammable ‘Grenfell’ cladding in Britain

Campaigners from properties with Grenfell-style cladding demanding safe homes for all in London, England – cladding on 8 out of 10 blocks have still not been replaced

From daily News Line in Britain:

80% of flammable towers have still not been reclad

10th May 2019

‘STILL almost 8 in 10 blocks with Grenfell type cladding have not had it replaced with over half of those with no work started at all,’ John Healey, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of Health told Parliament yesterday.

He was speaking after Tory Housing minister James Brokenshire made a statement to the House of Commons announcing a government fund providing £200m for the stripping of flammable cladding from private blocks.

However, the fund is not for stripping social housing tower blocks of flammable cladding. Hundreds of council and housing association tower blocks are still wrapped in flammable cladding leaving thousands living in fire traps.

To make matters worse the Tory government and the Tory-led Kensington and Chelsea Council still have not re-housed the Grenfell fire survivors.

Healey continued: ‘Who would have thought, after the solemn pledges made by the Prime Minister and other ministers in the aftermath of that terrible, dreadful Grenfell Tower fire that nearly two years on, still there are Grenfell residents in hotels and temporary accommodation, not in permanent homes.’

Emma Dent Coad, Labour MP for Kensington, tweeted that it was ‘shameful’ that residents had to wait 23 months for action, adding that the £200m fund was ‘measly’.

Only last weekend in Manchester there was a fire in a block with Grenfell-style cladding, luckily no one was killed.

And the tenants of the Manchester block called Vallea Court which has the same Grenfell-style cladding have said that they fear for their lives after a waking watch failed to rouse a number of people during the fire that broke out in the early hours of last Saturday.

People living in Vallea Court in the Green Quarter development were evacuated at around 5am when the fire started in the lift shaft on the 10th floor.

While fire alarms sounded on the floor where the fire was, they did not sound elsewhere, and most residents were woken by members of a waking watch who banged on their doors and sounded an air horn.

Joe Sharp, who lives on the eighth floor of the block, said he initially assumed the noise was from revellers returning from a night out.

‘I was eventually woken by the sound of people in the corridor,’ he said. ‘The waking watch don’t know who is in or not so if you don’t answer the door they are not going to stay there.’

Meanwhile, residents in nine blocks in Manchester’s Salford were told flammable cladding would be stripped in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Almost two years on they’re still waiting.

Dawn Lewis is 57 and has lived in Thorn Court for more than 20 years. She said: ‘At the beginning, I didn’t want to be here. My sleep was awful. I kept thinking that the alarm was going off. You wake up thinking you can smell smoke.’

The 22-storey block sits opposite the Salford Crescent railway station and is one of the nine Pendleton Together-run high-rises that failed to meet fire safety standards.

Julie Eddison is 46 and lives in Spruce Court. She has depression, anxiety and PTSD and says she feels ‘terrorised’ in her home.

‘Do I feel safe? No,’ she said … We are in a perpetual state of fear.’

When the fire alarm was set off during the night recently, Julie said she was ‘phoned awake’ at 3.20am by a friend.

‘The alarm didn’t wake me,’ she said. ‘You can imagine the terror.’


Racism in Blairite-Conservative British Change UK party

This 18 February 2019 video from Britain says about itself:

Angela Smith appears to describe people with ‘funny tinge’ in racism debate

Ex-Labour MP sparks immediate racism row on launch day of her political organisation, the Independent Group, while appearing on BBC’s Politics Live.

After self-styled Thatcherite Conservative politicians joined the Blairite ex-Labourites, the new name of the Independent Group became Change UK.

By Phil Miller in Britain:

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Change UK candidate ‘scared’ of black women

JEREMY CORBYN’S opponents were in meltdown last night after a second Change UK candidate was forced to resign for saying “black women scare me” and a third was found to have been repeating Islamophobic slurs.

Joseph Russo was the second Change UK candidate in 24 hours to be dropped for making racist remarks, while Nora Mulready was facing censure by the Muslim Council of Britain as the Star went to press.

The gaffe-prone breakaway party was originally formed by Labour MPs who defected over what they said was “racism” within the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

But Change UK’s own anti-racist credentials were dealt a fresh blow yesterday when its top Euro election candidate for Scotland was revealed to have made insulting remarks about black women.

Mr Russo stood down after one of his tweets emerged that said: “Black women scare me.

“I put this down to being chased through Amsterdam by a crazy black whore.”

In another tweet, he posted: “I wonder if there’s a c**t/anchovy correlation. One smells like the other.”

Ms Mulready meanwhile, who was slected as Change UK’s London candidate after she quit Labour for being too “anti-imperialist hard left,” spent her time in 2018 arguing that “immigration brings with it some very regressive cultural values” and suggesting [racist thug] Tommy Robinson had “hit [a] societal nerve.”

Astonishingly for someone intending to represent a city with a 12.4 per cent Muslim population, she also argued that fundamentalist Islam is inextricable from the Muslim faith, saying it was “a fallacy that Islamism has nothing to do with Islam” and fundamentalism could be “Koranically justified”.

Labour’s Neil Findlay, who is MSP for Lothian, told the Morning Star: “Clearly there’s a very worrying pattern emerging of TIG [Change UK] endorsing individuals with racist views.

“They were meant to ‘change’ politics but based on these remarks it looks like all they are doing is pushing it into the gutter.”

On Tuesday, just hours after the party’s Euro election launch, another of their candidates stood down over a racist tweet.

Professional boxer [and ex-Conservative party member] Ali Sadjady was caught saying: “When I hear 70 per cent of pick pockets caught on the London Underground are Romanian it kind of makes me want Brexit.”

Racism has dogged the party since its inception as The Independent Group in February when one of its MPs, Angela Smith, sparked uproar on day one, saying black people had a “funny tinge” in a discussion about racism.

She later claimed to have “misspoke”.

In response to the latest racism revelations, David Rosenberg from the Jewish Socialists’ Group said: “Several former Labour MPs cited Labour’s alleged anti-semitism as the reason they were leaving to form a new party.

“It’s a bit rich given that their new party has already faced such embarrassment over racism.

“On their launch day they had the ‘funny tinge’ comments.

“Now two candidates have resigned over racist comments about Romanians and black women.

“And from those who shouted loudest making allegations of anti-semitism, all we get now is silence when it comes to their own party.”

Trade unionist Liam Young also slammed the party, saying on Twitter: “The former Labour MPs who resigned calling Corbyn a racist should be damned for the disgrace that they are.

“It’s almost as if you have to be a homophobe, racist or sexist to be selected as a Change UK candidate.

“Roll on an election so we can consign them to the dustbin of history.”

Thursday, 25 April 2019: Tory racist attack on foreign students ‘bigger scandal than Windrush’. 34,000 FOREIGN students have had their visas cancelled and over 1,000 have been kicked out of the country as a result of the racist ‘hostile environment’ regime imposed by Theresa May while she was Home Secretary in 2014. When the scandal of the Windrush generation broke last year, charities that deal with immigration disputes warned that Windrush was just the tip of the iceberg and now it is emerging that even more foreign students have been subjected to the racist policies pursued vigorously by May and the Tories: here.

Why Change UK loves war. SYMON HILL exposes the ‘moderate’ party’s blood-soaked militarist voting record.

Can pine martens survive in Britain?

This video says about itself:

Baby pine marten

Cute little squatters living on the second floor in our cottage. Estonia, summer 2015.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Friday, March 22, 2019

Nature red in tooth and claw

PETER FROST celebrates a rare British mammal and its struggle to survive in our countryside

The rare pine marten (Martes martes) is, for most of us, more easily seen on a television wildlife programme than in real life. They are mostly nocturnal, but if you are lucky and in the right place you may spot them when they are active during daylight in the summer.

Like many of our mammals and birds of prey they were driven almost to the point of extinction by greedy so-called country sporting interests seeking to protect grouse, pheasant and other shoots.

However, today wiser councel prevails and as pressure on these wild creatures is reducing they are able to re-establish themselves.

Now pine martens enjoy the highest legal conservation status and are protected in Britain under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, although that still doesn’t always save them from overenthusiastic gamekeepers and their greedy employers.

Today some mammal enthusiasts who are lucky enough to live in pine marten country can sometimes even encourage pine martens to visit bird tables laden with peanuts and raisins.

A native of Britain and Ireland, the marten is a member of the mustelid family which includes the far more common weasel and stoat as well as the polecat, otter and escaped but now common mink. Another close relative is the ferret, still occasionally kept for hunting and as a pet. Some ferrets have escaped and are living wild. The rare feral blonde variety are particularly attractive. I saw one recently and recognising just what it was took some time.

The pine marten is the size of a small domestic cat. Their bodies are up to 21 in (53 cm) in length, and their bushy tails can add another 10 in (25 cm). Males are slightly larger than females; typically, martens weigh around 3.3lb (1.5kg) – 3.7lb (1.7kg).

It has a slim body and it is claimed that even a fully grown adult marten can get through a three-inch diameter hole. Its fur is brown with a distinctive cream bib on the throat. The long bushy tail and prominent rounded ears and cheeky face make it quite easy to recognise. They live for approximately eight years.

You are most likely to find them in woodland habitats, but they will also live in scrub, rocky areas and on rocky crags where they take advantage of their supreme agility and climbing skills.

That climbing ability is also often seen high in the tree cover where they move and leap from branch to branch like some amazing circus trapeze artiste.

Pine martens prefer to rest and breed above ground and frequently den in tree cavities, disused squirrel nests (called dreys) as well as larger disused bird nests. Many local wildlife organisations erect purpose-built marten den boxes and these are often used as are owl nesting boxes.

Pine martens are largely solitary, coming together only to mate in July and August. During the summer mating season, they make shrill, cat-like calls.

Between one and five tiny kits are born the following spring. The kits stay with the mother until the autumn when they are fully grown and leave mum to establish their own territories.

Pine martens eat a wide variety of food and will consume what is plentiful locally. This may include small mammals, birds, insects and carrion.

They do eat bird’s eggs and have been seen to raid the nests of some rare species including ospreys but some superb film has been shot in Scotland showing a female osprey successfully defending her clutch of eggs from a pine marten. Truly nature red in tooth and claw.

Fruit such as bilberries, rowan berries and blackberries make up much of a pine marten’s summer diet, often resulting in its scats or droppings turning blue or red in colour.

Pine martens regularly leave their scats on forest trails or in prominent places like boulders to mark their territories. When they are fresh, scats may have a slimy appearance due to mucous binding them together. They may contain fur, feathers, bones or seeds.

Pine martens also prey on squirrels. It seems they take far more grey squirrels than the threatened reds. Greys are bigger, slower and spend more time on the ground than their red counterparts. Reds can move quicker and climb higher in trees where thin branches will not support the weight of an adult marten.

Studies are still to be conclusive but this could be great news for the endangered red squirrel as well as the ancient woodlands that suffer so much from grey squirrels stripping the bark of ancient trees.

The only natural predator of the marten in Britain, if we exclude gamekeepers, is the fox.

The pine marten arrived in Britain after the last Ice Age, around 10,000 years ago. The extensive woodland cover of the time made ideal conditions for the pine marten.

It seems incredible but at this time pine martens were the second most common British carnivore. Populations may have reached 150,000 animals. Today the population is less than 5,000.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, as woodlands were cleared and gamekeepers controlled predators, populations declined dramatically.

By the early 20th century, pine martens had become extinct in most of southern Britain and were confined to north-west Scotland and a very few English upland areas like the Lake District, the Cheviot Hills, the Pennines and the North York Moors.

In Wales, populations survived in areas that included Snowdonia, the Cambrian Mountains and Carmarthenshire.

From the 1930s, following a reduction in trapping pressure, pine martens began to recover in Scotland and the population has slowly expanded and re-colonised many parts of its former range.

Today, pine martens are found throughout much of northern and central Scotland, as far south as the Central Belt, with some populations in parts of southern Scotland. Pine martens have begun to spread over the Scottish-English border and recolonise areas of Northumberland and Cumbria.

Elsewhere in England and Wales pine martens have appeared again. Some have been reintroduced by wildlife organisations as well as by individual mammal enthusiasts.

Like so many of our native mammals they are fighting for survival and those of us who really love the countryside need to do all we can to help.

Good British carnivorous mammals news

This October 2017 video is called A short video guide to otters in Britain, by Ross Lawford.

From the University of Exeter in England:

Wild carnivores stage a comeback in Britain

February 25, 2019

Once-endangered carnivorous mammals such as otters, polecats and pine martens have staged a remarkable comeback in Britain in recent decades, a new review shows.

The study found that — with the exception of wildcats — the status of Britain’s native mammalian carnivores (badger, fox, otter, pine marten, polecat, stoat and weasel) has “markedly improved” since the 1960s.

The species have largely “done it for themselves” — recovering once harmful human activities had been stopped or reduced, according to scientists from the University of Exeter, Vincent Wildlife Trust, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Hunting, trapping, control by gamekeepers, use of toxic chemicals and destruction of habitats contributed to the decline of most predatory mammals in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

“Unlike most carnivores across the world, which are declining rapidly, British carnivores declined to their low points decades ago and are now bouncing back,” said lead author Katie Sainsbury, a PhD researcher at the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“Carnivores have recovered in a way that would have seemed incredibly unlikely in the 1970s, when extinction of some species looked like a real possibility.”

The researchers collected survey reports from the last 40 years and compared changes in the species’ distribution extent and population sizes. They also reviewed human activities that have helped or hindered Britain’s native carnivores in recent decades.

Otters have almost completely recolonised Great Britain. Badger populations have roughly doubled since the 1980s.

Polecats have expanded across southern Britain from Wales, and pine martens have expanded from the Scottish Highlands.

Fox numbers have risen since the 1960s, though an apparent decline in the last decade may be linked with dwindling rabbit numbers.

“Most of these animals declined in the 19th century, but they are coming back as a result of legal protection, conservation, removal of pollutants and restoration of habitats,” said Professor Robbie McDonald, head of Exeter’s Wildlife Science group.

“The recovery of predatory mammals in Britain shows what happens when you reduce the threats that animals face. For the most part these species have recovered by themselves.”

“Reintroductions have also played a part. Fifty one pine martens were recently translocated to Wales from Scotland and these martens are now breeding successfully in Wales. Otter reintroductions helped re-establish the species in the east of England.”

Thought must now be given to how growing numbers of these animals interact with humans, the researchers say.

Some of the species can pose problems for gamekeepers, anglers and farmers, and work must be done to find ways to prevent conflict and allow long-term co-existence as the species expand their ranges and numbers.

Wildcats are the exception to the pattern of recovery. The species is now restricted to small numbers in isolated parts of the Scottish Highlands. Some estimates suggest there are as few as 200 individuals left. Their decline has largely been caused by inter-breeding with domestic cats, leading to loss of wildcat genes.

The status of stoats and weasels remains obscure.

Professor McDonald said: “These small and fast-moving predators are hard to see and to survey. Ironically, the best means of monitoring them is from the records of gamekeepers who trap them. People are key to carnivore recovery.

“By involving local communities from the outset, we have been able to secure the return of healthy numbers of pine martens to Wales. Translocations were needed because natural spread, something the Trust has been monitoring in polecats over the past 25 years, will take much longer for the slower breeding pine marten” said Dr Jenny MacPherson of Vincent Wildlife Trust.

The paper, published in the journal Mammal Review, is entitled: “Recent history, current status, conservation and management of native mammalian carnivores in Great Britain.”