Upcoming Christmas Events
With the current light-box exhibition from Daily Life Ltd. due to finish next week (December 16th), there is just one more event planned for the square this year: Make a note of the date Saturday December 20th, 4.30pm to 6pm. Organised by Age UK East London, there will be carol singing, mince pies, and mulled wine (tea and coffee will also be available). Choirs from across Hackney will be singing festive carols hoping you will sing along. All monies raised through sales of refreshments (and of course the collection buckets that will be present) will go to help Age UK East London continue their as-necessary-as-ever work throughout the region, and spread the Christmas cheer to those less fortunate than us. Please show your support and pop down if you are able to.
And speaking of events and charity, the Eastern Curve Garden are running a whole host of events in the run-up to Christmas. To get in to the festive spirit and support them in their fabulous work of maintaining this delightful little oasis, check out their list of upcoming events HERE.
Building Security: Tail-gating
This is a subject that has been broached before, but it seems it needs to be re-iterated. After this week’s break-in to the Consort staffroom in Thomas Tower (and subsequent theft of staff personal belongings), and the ejection of non-residents from Collins Tower, it is clear that many people are still not getting the message that tailgating is a problem throughout the square that puts us all at risk. If someone tries to follow you in to your building (or tries to enter whilst you are exiting) ask to see their fob before allowing them entry. It is all very well being polite and holding the door open for people, but it is simply asking for trouble. Although these events are rare, apartments have been robbed, and stairwells have been used for drug taking and dealing. How long before we have a mugging or somebody gets hurt? And all of this is so easily avoided: Stop the tail-gaters. And if you find someone holding the door for you, thank that person for their politeness but also enlighten them to their thoughtlessness: They are putting you and all the other residents of your building at risk. NO FOB – NO ENTRY! It could not be simpler. Just to state the obvious, do not put yourself in danger during any confrontation: If you are threatened in any way, or even feel threatened, get yourself out of the situation and report the incident immediately to the concierge service either in person or by telephone on 02072547341 and they will investigate further.
As many will be aware, there was a bit of a panic a couple of weeks ago when news came through from Hackney Council that Barratt had withdrawn their planning application for the proposed ventilation system to cure the restaurant smoke and odour problem plaguing phase 1 buildings (Gaumont through Labyrinth). After many emails and phone calls, including the help of local councillor Peter Snell, it has been determined that this was an error on the council’s part who accidentally deleted the application. This has though now been reinstated, and we are hoping for a decision soon: Preferably a positive one. More news as soon as we have it.
To continue the tradition of advertising Dalston Square businesses and the businesses of Dalston Square residents, here is a quick plug for Labyrinth Tower resident Patricia. Patricia is starting new sessions of her family oriented yoga classes early next year, which will be held in the Young Hackney building in Forest Road. Patricia is an experienced yoga teacher, working primarily with newcomers and children, she hopes to attract your whole family to her new sessions: All ages, and all experience levels are welcome. To enrol for these new classes, check out her website HERE. If you are interested, and a Dalston Square resident yourself, take the flyer you will find in your letterbox during the coming week to your first session for a special (and very neighbourly) ‘Residents Only’ discount of 40% on that session (£6 instead of £10). The new sessions start on January 10th 2015, and will continue every Saturday from 11.15am to 12.15pm: What better way could there be to energise your weekend!
As I am sure everyone is by now aware, fire gutted Nancy’s Pantry, the children orientated restaurant here in the square, early this past Tuesday morning. The fire started at around 7.30am and was attended by 6 fire tenders and 35 firemen and officers from Shoreditch, Homerton, Stoke Newington, and Islington fire stations. A dozen residents from immediately above the restaurant were evacuated as a precaution, but the fire was contained within the restaurant and fully extinguished by 9.30am. The fire, it seems, was caused by an electrical fault, possibly with a refrigerator or the socket it was plugged into: The fire brigade are investigating and will no doubt report back soon.
In the wake of the fire there have been 3 very important questions asked which I would like to address here:
Why did audible alarms not sound throughout Labyrinth Tower when the fire detectors were triggered? The answer is very simple: There are none (despite the fact that the fire warning instruction signs posted within each block are based on what to do on hearing alarms). There are of course smoke detectors with audible alarms in each and every apartment, but in public areas the smoke detectors have no alarm attached, and for a very good reason: In the event of fire, you are supposed to stay put in your apartment (unless a) the fire is in your apartment, or b) you are instructed to evacuate by fire and/or safety officials). If there were audible alarms throughout the building, people would attempt evacuation without knowing where the fire is, potentially heading in the direction of the fire. If you are unaware of the drill in the event of a fire anywhere in the square, the official fire policy document for Dalston Square is available for download at our discussions forum HERE: Please do read it if you have not already done so.
How did smoke manage to infiltrate the stairwell of Raddon Tower next door? As yet we have no answer as to how the smoke managed to cross from one block to it’s neighbour (something that certainly should not be possible), but this is being investigated and will hopefully be rectified soon: The DSRA will follow this issue over the coming weeks.
Why did the AOV (Automatic Opening Vent) system fail to clear the smoke from Raddon Tower’s stairwell? There was simply insufficient smoke for it to make it from the stairwell into any of the corridors where the smoke detectors would have triggered the system. For those not familiar with this system, check your hallway and you will see a panel somewhere in the wall labelled ‘Smoke Shaft Door’. In the event of the smoke detectors being triggered, these ‘doors’ open to reveal a large vent system. At the same time, powerful fans on the roof of the block kick in to push huge quantities of fresh air down through the stairwell, strong enough to push open the fire doors leading from the stairwell into each and every floor’s corridors, and thereby forcing any smoke in those corridors out into the vent system: Very clever. Remember that it is estimated that at least half (and by some estimates as many as 80%) of all fire deaths are due to the inhalation of smoke rather than burning.
Phase 1 kitchen ventilation
Finally our persistence in pursuing Barratt with regard an extraction system for the kitchens of the restaurants in phase 1 (the eastern side of the square) has borne fruit. Barratt have now submitted plans to Hackney Council to retro-fit a proper, above roof-line, extraction system. Currently all these restaurants simply pump their smoke and fumes into the rear service tunnel (that runs from Gaumont Tower through to Labyrinth Tower) from where it is finding it’s way into lobbies, and up into the residential parts of each block. As is usual with this king of planning application (a visual change to Gaumont Tower as the ducting will be fitted to the outside of the rear of the block), the council is giving the general public the opportunity to comment on the proposal. Residents of Gaumont Tower have received direct communication from the council regarding this, but for other phase 1 residents who have supported our campaign, not received this letter, but who would like the opportunity to comment on the application, the process can be done online HERE. All comments must be in by 26th September so get your comments in soon. For Phase 2 residents who are concerned that they will experience a similar problem when the Japanese restaurant in Thomas Tower opens for business, worry not: You already have a proper extraction system in place.
Many thanks to everyone who took the time to complete our recent survey of Dalston Square residents. The responses (both paper and digital) have now been combined and analysed, and a final report produced. And it makes for very interesting reading. Overall the responses were very positive: It seems we are very happy to be living in such a beautiful development in the heart of one of the most vibrant and diverse areas of London. There are niggles of course, it goes without saying, but these can/should be addressed without too much trouble, and the DSRA will continue to work on your behalf to ensure they are addressed. Reassuring for us was the fact that the vast majority of the niggles mentioned are already under discussion: By raising them in your responses you have strengthened our hand in these discussions which should help greatly in having them addressed and remedied. The report is available for download over at our discussions forum HERE. As I say in that posting, I will be addressing all the comments and questions made in your responses, but this will take a while to work through so please bear with me on that.
And did you realise it is election season? On May 22nd we will have the opportunity to vote for our local councillors, the Hackney Mayor, and members of the European Parliament. While the Mayoral and European elections are important, the primary concern for many, given the pace of change in the area, is to ensure that the local ward councillors are prepared to speak up for, and listen to and represent the views of, the communities of Dalston. To this end, Dalston Futures (working with Hackney Unites) have arranged for local residents to have the chance to question the candidates before voting day. For full info on the multiple events they have planned see HERE and HERE.
One last thing before signing off, predominantly addressed to residents of phase 1 buildings (Collins Tower through to Labyrinth), and those that visit the concierge on a regular basis: Are you noticing restaurant cooking aromas in residential areas of buildings? Unfortunately the extraction system currently in place to remove said odours seems unfit for purpose. Rather than extract them from the buildings it simply pumps them into the service tunnel that runs the full length of phase 1. Many people are noticing odours in lobbies, and after travelling up the lift shafts they can even be noticed (sometimes strongly depending on the wind direction) in the corridors of even the top floors of some blocks. We are in discussion with both Barratt Homes and Consort regarding this matter but need your assistance to gauge the extent of the problem: While the existing system meets building regulations (according to Barratt), we feel we should not be able to smell the restaurants unless we are inside them. We have therefore agreed with Barratt that any complaints should be addressed to Hackney Council’s pollution control department for assessment. They can be reached by phone on 020 8356 4455, or preferably by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. With one more restaurant and warmer weather still to come this problem can only get worse so please do not ignore it, report it now.