Socialist Worker

Eight people die in Glasgow hotel during Covid-19 crisis

Issue No. 2725

Homeless people arent getting enough support and are being put at risk

Homeless people aren't getting enough support and are being put at risk (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Eight people have died at a Glasgow hotel used to shelter the homeless during lockdown.  

Four men and four women have died at the Alexander Thomson since March—with only one “non-suspicious” case resolved. 

Sources said it seemed “nobody cares” about the plight of rough sleepers being holed up in temporary accommodation during lockdown.

An insider at the Argyle Street hotel said, “It’s shocking what staff and ­residents are having to go through.

“There have been eight bodies found in the last six months and it just seems like nobody cares.

“On one day in July two bodies were found and a member of staff saved another man’s life by stopping him from taking an overdose.

“The council are using it as ­accommodation for the homeless during lockdown but it means folk are trapped in these horrendous places when they are already at their lowest ebb.

“People need to know how bad it’s been for staff and residents.”

Recorded

A woman died at the temporary ­shelter on 25 April and a man on 17 May. The deaths of two men were recorded within a fortnight of each other in June.

A man and a woman both died on 28 July and a woman on 27 August. The following day another woman died.

Her death was declared “not suspicious” but the other seven remain unexplained.

It comes weeks after the Scottish ­government backtracked on a vow to ensure the homeless wouldn’t have to spend more than a week in temporary lodgings.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart announced in May that the Unsuitable Accommodation Order—which blocks councils from placing pregnant women or families with children into B&Bs or hotels for longer than seven days—would be extended to homeless households.

The change was fast-tracked in response to the Covid pandemic but the legislation includes exemptions up to 31 January 2021 so local authorities can place vulnerable residents in hotels for longer.

Alison Watson, director of Housing charity Shelter Scotland, said she was “extremely concerned” by the deaths.

She added, “If people are stuck in hotel rooms for months without support that will have serious consequences for their wellbeing.


Fake cladding certificate for Cardiff flat complex

The fire safety certificate for cladding on a block of Cardiff flats has been found to be fake.

A resident of Marseilles House at Century Wharf discovered the building’s External Wall Fire Review (EWS1) contained a false surveyor’s signature.

An industry-wide certificate was introduced following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, in which 72 people died.

The surveyor, who did not wish to named, confirmed she had not carried out the survey or signed the form.

Property management company Warwick Estates contracted Newbridge-based Specialist Facade Inspections to conduct the EWS1 survey.

However Specialist Facade Inspections said it only produces a report —which is signed off by a third-party chartered surveyor for a fee of £200 —and it had also been the victim of fraud.

The company’s founder Paul Tedstone said the forged signature was also used on “five or six” other EWS1 certificates, but could not provide contact details for the third-party surveyor or the name of the company.

“EWS1 is a bloody piece of paper. In order to tick that box you need a [qualified person]. None of those accreditations I hold, nor did the business hold,” he said.

“It was nonsense—you need someone else just to confirm what we already know. 

“Just for the last piece of paper, as I didn’t have the letters after my name to sign it off.

“There has been weeks and weeks of intrusive surveys. 

“We have done nothing wrong, apart from being a bit naive. 

“We’re victims too.”


Lord Barker of Battle took a break from running oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s metals firm last week to deliver a speech titled Making More From Less. A subject he is well qualified in. 

After a brief career in David Cameron’s government as a climate minister he became a peer. 

This was followed by a £6 million pay check from metals firm EN+.  


Deliveroo has generated heavy losses and so paid little, if any, tax. The last available accounts, for 2018, show that Deliveroo made losses of £230 million on a turnover of £476 million (up from £277 million the previous year). Roofoods Ltd, Deliveroo’s parent company, pays no corporation tax. In fact. Deliveroo claimed a £640,000 tax rebate thanks to a government scheme.

Deliveroo’s highest paid director – understood to be British-based co-founder Will Shu – earns a salary of £250,000 plus £8.3 million in share options.

In total, key managers received £20.7 million in share-based payments.


Water firms’ record failings on pollution

England’s privatised water monopolies have recorded their worst ratings for tackling pollution in eight years, according to the government’s environment regulator. 

The Environment Agency said that in 2019 four out of nine water and sewage companies were rated as poor or requiring improvement, the worst result since 2011.  

The figures showed there were 2,204 water pollution incidents in 2019, up from 1,863 in 2018, the greatest increase since 2014.

Since 2010, the agency has relied on water companies to self-report pollution incidents. The report rates each company from one to four stars, based on measures including serious pollution incidents and compliance with permits.  

South West Water, which supplies 1.6 million people has never got above a two-star rating. 

Southern Water, which supplies 4.6 million customers was awarded only one star. 


Cops unnecessarily criminalise women

Women suffering from poverty, mental health illnesses and victims of domestic and sexual abuse are being arrested unnecessarily and criminalised, according to MPs. 

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System said that women were inappropriately held in custody before being released without being charged. 

The study drew on data from five police forces covering 600 arrests of women which found 40 percent of arrests resulted in no further action. It cited examples of a woman arrested for begging outside a supermarket and another woman for repeatedly walking into a main road.

Almost 100,000 arrests of women were made during the year in 2019. 

The report found that many of the women who were arrested were victims in a domestic abuse incident. 

Almost three-quarters of the women arrested were previously known to the police due to being victims of sexual violence. 


The things they say

‘I know people are furious, and they are furious with me and furious with the government’

Boris Johnson shows an unusual understanding of the situation

‘It’s going to continue to be bumpy through to Christmas, it may even be bumpy beyond’

Johnson’s prediction for what happens now with Covid-19

‘In so far as that scheme may have helped to spread the virus, then obviously we need to counteract that’

Johnson admits the ‘Eat out to Help out’ scheme helped to spread coronavirus

‘By the spring, if Covid is looking better, the economy is picking up and the Bond movie is finally out, things could look very different’

A government minister expresses slightly more optimism


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