Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

LNT – Russell Hobbs flat element kettle revisited

I covered what I THEN thought was the repair of an ancient Russell Hobbs Millennium kettle I had owned from new out-of-the-box, but which had never worked reliably from day one.

Why my new kettle NEVER worked properly

Once I rewired it and replaced the offending ‘boil switch’ I though the job was done.

But, I still thought it didn’t work ‘First Time, Every Time’, however, I attributed this to imagination.

I was wrong!

Despite the obvious failure of the ‘boil switch’, it seems this kettle held a second, equally destructive deeper fault.

Like most expensive kettles, this Russell Hobbs was fitted with over-temperature switches to kill the power if it boiled dry, or some idiot turned it on with no water in it. Unusually, it has TWO.

While I did make the filling/empty mistake a few times, I usually caught the slip (as this noisy kettle didn’t make the usual noises), and got into the habit of checking.

I assumed I had ‘Got it wrong’ one day when it didn’t boil, and I found very little water inside. Normally, the thermal switches reset when they cool, and you just carry on, but on this occasion it was completely dead. I assumed (wrongly) one or both switches had tripped and not reset.

I didn’t have any similar switches lying around, so just bought the cheapest kettle from Asda, assuming I could pull the part from that (at around £5 this is cheaper than buying just a switch online!).

That didn’t actually work out as planned – these supermarket plastic kettles are now so cheap they don’t have any safety features. Look at these pics…

First, just looking inside, plastic kettle should really have a metal plate at the bottom, to help dissipate heat if the automatic switch fails and they boil dry.

I was amazed to see this is no longer fitted. You can guess what happens if this boils dry, or you don’t fill it.

Asda Kettle Inside - no metal plate below element

Asda Kettle Inside – no metal plate below element

Things got worse when I went to dismantle it and collect the thermal switch I expected to find.

There wasn’t one – or apparently any sort of thermal cut-out to disconnect the power in the event of overheating.

I stopped short of dismantling the element, which connects directly to the power in the corded base, as it might have a thermal fuse inside, but since I wasn’t going to be cannibalising this new kettle after all, I wasn’t going to ruin it either.

There could well be a fusible link in there – I just don’t know. I have my doubts, as I’ve dismantled some very similar element bases, and they just go straight from those contacts to the element.

I’m amazed UK regulations allow this. It’s the sort of omission I expect to find inside Chinese home market goods, not export items.

Maybe the mains fuse (in the plug) is expected to blow if the element overheats with no water cooling it?

The two yellow wires go to power indicator fitted to the switch.

Asda Kettle Wiring - no obvious thermal cur-out

Asda Kettle Wiring – no obvious thermal cur-out

Oh well – back to the old Russell Hobbs, which I decided to investigate as I had started dismantling it in anticipation of repair.

This turned out to show my thoughts were ENTIRELY wrong, and it revealed the second ‘out-of-the-box’ failure it had come with.

I pulled the base of the kettle, and quickly found BOTH of the thermal cut-outs were perfect fine, as was the switch I’d fitted last time.

I checked all the wiring, which was fine, leaving only the flat element as the only part that could have been at fault and open circuit, but it looked perfect, as it was completely visible and I could see all the tracks were perfect, with no ‘blown’ or damaged spots to be seen.

I was puzzled now…

The element looked OK.

The wiring had checked out as continuous from the mains input to where it met the element, and all the switches were working perfectly on test.

That left only ONE possibility – was the wiring actually connecting to the element?

A plastic moulding covered the actual interface.

Stripping that out and removing the element revealed the cause.

The wiring did not connect directly to the element, but was terminated in a spring-loaded contact that was forced against the metal surface of the element.

A totally daft idea for a relative high current connection, with the inevitable result that one of them had failed, probably from the first time the kettle was ever used! Recall my first post noted that this kettle only worked two or three times before becoming intermittent and unreliable.

This is inevitable if there is any dirt, a poor or oxidised surface, or the spring fails for any reason to press the contact points together securely.

You can see from this pic that while one contact is still good, the other had completely burnt away, and it’s a wonder it ever worked.

Russell Hobbs Millennium Flat Element Burnt Connector

Russell Hobbs Millennium Flat Element Burnt Connector

Obviously, I can’t even attempt a repair – there’s nothing left to repair.

As everything else is fine, I will try permanently fixing the wire. Soldering should work in this case as the base can’t get about 100°C (unless the kettle is boiled dry or empty), but that substrate below the printed element track is at least 1 mm steel, so heating to make the connection will need care.

Another job for when I get around to it.


13/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh no! Kelvingrove’s falling apart too

Locals will (should) be aware of the problems which have caught up with the glasshouse of the Winter Garden at the People’s Palace.

Let’s hope MP Paul Sweeney doesn’t notice a little blip in the condition of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – or there might be ANOTHER petition rushing out of his office. He’d probably want to raise at least one, if not two, million to fix this (while he poses for a new media pic) and prevent the council from closing the place forever, and dumping the old exhibits in the nearest skip.

I forgot I’d spotted this recent little hiccup there recently.

In fact, with Easter on my mind, I thought the bright yellow fencing was something to do with that, until I got closer and saw the detail.

If you look through the opening just to the left of the sign you’ll see a clue – those white bits should really be on the ceiling above.

Kelvingrove No Access To Stairs

Kelvingrove No Access To Stairs

The decorative cornice, probably more accurately the plain coving part has come away from the line where the horizontal glazing meets the vertical wall.

Not sure what it is made of as I can’t get close enough, but it’s a little odd that it’s flexible enough to stay attached at the point where it is hanging. If it was just a plaster moulding, it should have snapped and fallen under its own weight. Unless, it’s just occurred to me the moulding may be mounted on a fabric carrier, to make it easier to handle. That could then fail at the end of section, but stay together with a section.

I thought the shape was odd, then realised they had just used regularly spaced gobs of plaster to stick the moulding to the joint line.

Kelvingrove Rooflight Failure

Kelvingrove Rooflight Failure

Closer look at the gobs and gap.

Kelvingrove Plaster Detail

Kelvingrove Plaster Detail

That’s not a crummy zoom – it’s just a crummy crop from the larger image.

09/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace looks set to reopen as planned during Easter 2019

Having done a lot of jumping up and down when closure of the People’s Palace (temporary, while works were carried out to provide emergency exits), and Winter Garden (effectively permanent until something in the order of £7 million can be raised for restoration) was first announced, the media and those looking for some free publicity by making a lot of noise about the closure, but not actually doing anything to help other than make stupid, time-wasting claims/comments, seemed to dry up and disappear.

It has now been announced that the People’s Palace will reopen during the Easter holidays, with some £350,000 of work being carried out to make it safe, and replace facilities that were previously located in the Winter Garden.

Following a £350,000 programme of works, the city’s social history museum will open independently of the Winter Gardens during the school holidays.

The Winter Gardens requires window replacement costing up to £7m.

The People’s Palace has seen several alterations during the works, including the addition of a new cafe and shop on its ground floor, access to public toilets and a new fire escape, which was previously located within the Winter Gardens.

School groups will be able to access a new purpose-built packed lunch area on the top floor of the museum, replacing the former space available within the glasshouse.

The museum reopens with a new photography exhibition, which captures daily life in the city in 1955.

Recent view of the Winter Gardens open while work was being carried out.

Peoples Palace Winter Garden

Peoples Palace Winter Garden

Councillor David McDonald, chairman of Glasgow Life, said: ‘The People’s Palace is just that; it’s the official residence of the stories, the images, and the memories of the people of our great city, entertaining and informing Glaswegians with displays of how we lived, worked and played in years gone by.

“There was an understandably strong reaction to the suggestions of the possible closure of the People’s Palace, a clear demonstrations of its affection amongst the Glasgow public. So I’m pleased that it is now scheduled to reopen and vindicates our pledge that we would undertake the work to allow it to remain open while a long term solution is found to the challenges of the Winter Gardens. The People’s Palace collection belongs to Glaswegians and we’re glad they will continue to enjoy access to it.”
‘End of its life cycle’

The Winter Gardens will remain closed indefinitely.

The structure is in need of repairs.

The sealant used to secure thousands of windows in the glasshouse has reached the end of its life cycle and requires wholesale replacement.

Glasgow’s People’s Palace prepares to reopen after works

Winter Gardens’ future unclear as People’s Palace reopens

People’s Palace set to reopen after £350k repair works

I took a run past at the weekend, and the place was tight shut, with no new notices attached.

But the Doulton Fountain, in front, was back on and in full flow.

People's Palace and Doulton Fountain

People’s Palace and Doulton Fountain

Obviously not a current pic, as the lights are on!

01/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Broken and lost streetlight – repaired

Starting with the ‘Fat Birds’ post back on 19 February, we’ve had a nice new streetlight fitted to replace the broken one that did a disappearing act during Storm Gareth.

Not sure exactly when it was replaced as I missed the event, but since I had been wandering back and forth, and it had not been replaced earlier, I can say it happened during a two hour window.

Pity, I wouldn’t have minded so much if I’d been out all day and missed this, but being in all day and STILL not seeing any of the show is just irritating.

The good news is that this the first LED streetlight to arrive in my street.

While we have had three white light fitted in recent years, these have all been the old fluorescent legacy type, which I’m sure the council lighting department was trawling up from old stock, to avoid buying any low pressure sodium replacements before the LED changeover was underway, and new stock was all of that type.

While it would probably be very hard to photograph, to the eye at least, the single new LED light in the sea of yellow murk is impressive to say the least.

There’s obviously NO upward light pollution as LED fittings only emit light from one side anyway.

Side spill is controlled by the lens and fitting, and is very low, just enough to provide useful illumination outside the main light pool.

Probably the most impressive aspect is the clearly defined main illumination pool, which can be clearly seen with only this single light in the midst of the sodium yellow surrounding. Being able to compare the brightness of the two is impressive, with the gloomy yellow being in stark contrast to the clearly illuminated white area, where a lot more detail can be seen.

By eye, I can see how it illuminates a rectangular area of the road, extending far enough to eventually merge with the lights on either side, but seems to be shaped to avoid the footpath. I’m not aware if that is intended, or just an incidental effect of how it is mounted. Poor or careless mounting could influence this, and there are some of these lights in nearby streets which have been very badly installed and aligned (they may actually have been disturbed after fitting). Regardless, the illuminated area is a near perfect match for the width of the road.

Broken Streetlight Repaired

Broken Streetlight Repaired

A little better than before.

Broken Ligh tNight

Broken Light Night

30/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

So, the EU has a ‘Right to repair’ plan

After I made a post about people repairing stuff, I saw an article referring to an EU plan about a ‘Right to Repair’.

The most interesting part was not so much the plan, but that the writer was a realist…

But in truth, much of what is darkly referred to as “planned obsolescence” probably isn’t anything of the sort. Sometimes it’s just a side-effect of cut-throat consumer price wars, and the pressure to build things as cheaply as possible, which means cutting corners on durability. And sometimes it’s more to do with technology’s restless habit of overtaking itself.

‘Make do and mend’ is a good green motto for our wasteful times

I’ve long held that all the claims of whining ‘Consumer Rights’ campaigners that manufacturers deliberately build stuff to fail quickly, and force buyers to replace them are utter nonsense – and simply evidence of more useless campaigners and activists we could all do without.

A realist only has to look at the damage done, especially in recent years, where a major company has actually been found, by evidence, to have been running some sort of underhand scheme, to see that this is counterproductive.

They have reputations which those ‘campaigners and activists’ (and maybe competitors) are over-eager to destroy, so cannot really afford to do many of the silly things that they are supposed to.

Look at the cost of recalls when a component failure is found.

As noted by the writer above, the real problem manufacturers have is balancing the cost of making a reliable product  via mass-production, but keeping the price down.

Although it’s an old series now, I recommend tracking down “The Secret Life of Machines”, presented by Tim Hunkin, and made in the late 1970s and 1980s. It would be interesting to see a remake today, now that the microcontroller is so widely utilised, and so many analogue/mechanical systems have been displaced by digital systems. For example, the video cassette recorder is now gone, and digital video has replaced it completely.

I think it was the episode on washing machines, but even then he was moved to observe that while it was sad to see how cheaply some of them were manufactured, he also had to admire the engineering, as they were so much simpler than their predecessors from earlier years, yet lasted so much better.

In most cases, it’s probably true to say that many failures are down to owner/operator abuse, rather than failure of the parts or design.

There’s also the desire of many consumers to have the ‘Latest Shiny Thing’.

I’ve picked up many gadgets thrown out by people, left at the side of the road for the binmen to collect with the rest of their rubbish.

So far, I’ve brought home fully working televisions, videos, CD/DVD players, amplifiers, even bathroom scales, and items as small as USB chargers.

All clearly dumped because they were just yesterday’s model, and unwanted even though they were working.


11/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Fix your own gadgets – good luck with that!

I was amused to see an article encouraged unskilled people to tackle repairs of their own gadgets.

Consumer campaigners are winning the battle for a “right to repair” – which could mean our electrical appliances last longer and are easier to mend.

But when your devices go wrong, how do you know whether there’s a ten-minute fix or if your appliance is destined for the scrapheap?

We asked some experts for their tips on the repairs you can do at home.

How to fix some of your own broken gadgets

For what it’s worth, I’ve never handed anything over for repair unless it’s something I’m legally obliged to have a qualified person tackle, or needs specialist tools I simply can’t afford to justify the cost to purchase.

I’d rather pay the cost of doing the work myself, even if it costs the same as going to a ‘Pro’, and even used one large repair to justify installing my own vehicle lift some years ago.

But the gadget story is more about electrical repairs, and while you can do a lot of simple jobs yourself, in recent years legislation has been introduced which has taken that away in many cases.

A few years ago I wanted to replace some blown heater elements – NOPE!

In the first case, and oven, there was simply no source of the glass enclosed elements, despite the oven being a major brand name.

In the second, I tried my usual electrical spares suppliers, only to be told that recent government legislation had outlawed the sale of open type of heater element I simply wanted to replace.

So, not only could I not buy a spare part, I couldn’t even buy a similar part and alter it to suit.

Battery does NOT necessarily mean safe

I was amused to see this advice in the article

If you’re new to repairing electrical appliances, Ms Gunter advises steering clear of mains-powered devices.

“It’s a good idea to get started with battery-powered devices, which are much safer, as a way to get confidence,” she says.

In fact, I’d say you’re probably SAFER poking around mains-powered devices nowadays – provided, of course, you have unplugged and isolated them.

Reason being that many devices are now powered by rechargeable lithium-ion cells.

Obviously, I’m  not referring to the sort of goodies powered by AA, AAA, or PP3 batteries and similar zinc chloride or alkaline batteries.

However, mishandling of lithium cells can lead to the rapid onset of overheating and fire.

I have to add that this is NOT down to the wrongly stated danger of reactive lithium bursting into flames on contact with water – in fact there is only a tiny amount of lithium in such cells, and even that is in the form of an oxide, not pure lithium.

Lithium is not the danger.

The danger arises from the high energy density of the cells, which can deliver huge currents if shorted, be this by their leads, or some mishap which punctures the cell and shorts it internally. In such cases these cells can suffer thermal runaway, causing them to overheat and release flammable chemicals which form their electrolyte.

Such cells are normally equipped with battery management to look after charge/discharge, but it’s also easy for someone inexperienced to replace them with types missing such protection. And that would not be a ‘Good Thing’.

I know people well experienced in handling these cells who still keep an open metal bin next to their bench when working on anything containing them, especially if the cells are very high power/capacity and are charged, just in case.

However, I’m not intending to put anyone off, quite the opposite.

But the experts should update their advice.

We really do need to claim back our gadgets, avoid the mentality that has come to accept disposable technology, and seek advice for silly little repairs that can be easily ad cheaply achieved in many cases.

So long as the parts are available!

Even guys that know what they are doing can get it wrong, as in this example where batteries from a Tesla were repurposed for another vehicle – and they didn’t quite look after their battery management properly.

That first video actually led to a lot of misunderstanding.


The people behind it made a second video to clarify matters.

You should watch both.

09/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Why let facts get in the way of a good People’s Palace scare?

Ever since news of problems with the Winter Gardens attached to the People’s Palace broke, and a certain local news site jumped with the story that the BOTH the Winter Gardens AND the People’s Palace would close indefinitely, it has continued to write stories using ‘Weasel Words’ to suggest the People’s Palace will join the Winter Gardens indefinite closure pending structural repairs (which need around £7 million), while noting in ‘small print’ that the People’s Palace closure will only be temporary, to allow the fire escapes to be altered. This change is needed since the present fire escapes depend on access through the Winter Gardens, so if that closes, then the People’s Palace would be obliged to close too.

However, although the ‘knee-jerk’ double closure story was headlined, and led to a silly petition being raised, when the final story was released by Glasgow City Council, the reality was that while BOTH would close at the end of 2018, the People’s Palace would only close until Easter, to allow modification to the fire escape, to allow the museum to remain open to visitors while access to the Winter Gardens was restricted.

I wonder if the writer is even aware of what they are doing?

It’s easy to do, and not fully realise the bias is there, simply through the choice of words, and positioning of material.

But I’m not supposed to be neutral.

Those in the public eye should be.

Worst – headline – ever.

Glasgow says goodbye to People’s Palace as fence marks closure for repairs

We’re NOT saying goodbye to the People’s Palace.

And, it’s NOT closing for repairs either.

It’s being closed temporarily for modification to the fire escapes, and some other access features. So, to steal someone else’s clever word play, ‘This is only au revoir, not goodbye’.

And it’s the Winter Gardens that are being closed, and not for repairs, as the £7 million has not been found yet.

Inaccuracy and bias in the media.

NEVER a good thing.

One might be tempted to suggest partaking of a little ‘Glasgow City Council Bashing’.

But nobody does that today.

Do they?

Do people even deserve to get into the Winter Gardens?

Maybe they shouldn’t bother fixing the place, and just leave it closed.

Shocking suggestion!

But I have a reason for making it.

A while ago, I posted after seeing signs added to the plants asking visitors not to remove fruit (lemons).

Peoples Palace Lemons

Peoples Palace Lemons

I recently did a pre-closure shoot in the Winter Gardens, and there was a NEW plea dotted around the displays…

Click for bigger if you can’t read it.

Winter Garden Rock Sign

Winter Garden Rock Sign

Still, at least the sign is just asking them to keep off the rocks, rather than not to steal them, and use them as ‘half bricks’ to beat their mates about the head with, after the Buckfast kicks in.

20/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace closure period dates announced

Provisional date have been announced for the closure period of the People’s Palace while work is carried out to alter the structure for its fire escape when access to the current exist is lost due to closure and loss of access to the Winter Gardens.

Now it has been announced that the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens will close respectively on December 30 and December 31.

In a letter which has gone out from Glasgow Life, museums have been informed of the date, and that the intended reopening will take place at Easter.

The letter states: “The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens will close on 30 Dec/31 December respectively due to the Winter Gardens building being categorised unsafe due to structure/glass issues.

“It is anticipated that the People’s Palace will reopen around Easter time (actual date cannot be confirmed until building work schedule approved) with the main changes being a new fire evacuation route within the palace as well as lift, public toilet access directly from palace.”

Here’s when the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens closes for repairs

The museum’s own web page notes…

The People’s Palace will then close at 5pm on 30 December 2018 and will remain closed for approximately 12 weeks to allow essential building works to be carried out as a result of the Winter Gardens closure. So don’t miss your opportunity to visit one of Glasgow’s favourite museums over the festive period ahead of this planned closure. We are due to re-open at Easter with some exciting refreshed displays for you to enjoy.

It’s just a pity the article had to refer to the misguided petition raised to “Save the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens for the City of Glasgow”.

James Watt silently oversees developments at the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens.

James Watt overlooks People's Palace and Winter Gardens

James Watt overlooks People’s Palace and Winter Gardens


People's Palace And Winter Gardens

People’s Palace And Winter Gardens


People's Palace Winter Gardens

People’s Palace Winter Gardens


People's Palace and Winter Gardens

People’s Palace and Winter Gardens

While it was a miracle to have the Doulton Fountain rescued and restored – I watched it decay for years and thought it would eventually leave the Green in skips, it is a bit of distraction when trying to get the best view of the People’s Palace façade from the raised area in front.

I really will have to try to remember and try for the closer in, but wider, shot at some point.

People's Palace and Doulton Fountain

People’s Palace and Doulton Fountain

Inside the Winter Gardens.

People's Palace Winter Gardens Interior

People’s Palace Winter Gardens Interior

Wider view of the problem – the glasshouse roof.

People's Palace Winter Gardens Interior Roof

People’s Palace Winter Gardens Interior Roof

I did try for some more detailed views, but the interior of the roof is fairly well obscured by the various nets installed in the past, to prevent any falling glass from attacking visitors.

People's Palace Winter Gardens Interior Roof

People’s Palace Winter Gardens Interior Roof

13/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

£8 million approved to support private housing repairs

After yesterday’s wake-up call regarding the projected cost of billions for maintenance work on Glasgow’s tenements…

The council will work with partners, such as local housing associations and the Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (CHSCP), to deliver these schemes.

Almost £8 million funding is being allocated for the repair of private sector housing stock for disabled people in Glasgow.

Under the council’s Private Sector Housing Grant (PSHG) programme. funding will be allocated to disabled adaptations, statutory repairs, ‘missing share’ support, tackling issues with pre-1919 tenements, and in areas with private letting or property management concerns such as Calton, Govanhill and Priesthill.

Around 65 per cent of homes in Glasgow are in private ownership, and this stock has the highest level of disrepair in the city. Examples of this repair can be found across in Glasgow, but specific locations where concentrations are higher include Govanhill, Strathbungo, Ibrox/Cessnock, East Pollokshields and Haghill/Dennistoun.

One of these is the investment in pre-1919 tenement stock has helped prevent their decline and in some cases prevent demolition – preventative maintenance will in the long-term reduce costs for this vital part of the city’s stock, with an estimated 70,000 pre-1919 flats in Glasgow.

Another is the provision of grants for essential adaptation works to the meet the needs of disabled people. The council also provides funding for the Care and Repair service for disabled owners and those aged 65 and and over, offering advice and organising repairs on the owners’ behalf.

The ‘Missing Share’ programme supports owners where they are in the majority and wish to carry out common repairs or maintenance. The council will underwrite the costs of the minority who are unwilling or unable to pay their share of costs. These owners are pursued for full recovery of costs when work is completed – with the vast majority of minority owners paying.

Council approves almost £8million to support private housing repairs in Glasgow

This will hopefully stimulate the good property owners, and help them with initiatives, while clamping down on the those who are dragging their feet, or just ‘rogue’.

Councillor Kenny McLean, City Convener for Neighbourhoods, Housing and Public Realm at Glasgow City Council, said: “While the responsibility for maintenance of homes lies with the owner, we will – where appropriate – support some of the costs for this work when they take responsibility for the repair works. Our support for homeowners comes in a variety of forms, from disabled adaptations to helping groups of owners come together to make necessary repairs, and this is work that makes the neighbourhoods of Glasgow better places to live.”



01/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Not millions, but BILLIONS said to be needed to repair Glasgow’s tenements

I almost included this item in this earlier post:

Glasgow’s million pound problems – after the 2014 Commonwealth Games handout

But I thought it would be better to keep it separate, lest the difference between the references to millions and BILLIONS was lost by having the two together.

Billions may be needed to fix Glasgow’s crumbling tenements after it was revealed that thousands of closes are in ‘critical disrepair’.

A shocking new report has estimated that around 46,600 tenement flats, which were built before 1919, have been deemed dangerous and need structural, weather-tightening and restoration work.

Many of those buildings are thought to require more than £500,000 worth of work to bring them up to scratch.

That could mean the final repair cost may stretch to as much as £2.9bn across the city.

The council has around 70,000 tenements in total which were built prior to 1919.

Govanhill, Ibrox, Cessnock, East Pollokshields, Strathbungo, Haghill and Dennistoun have all been identified as areas with pre-1919 houses in “poor condition”.

In the last 40 years funding for repairs to the old tenements has come from the Scottish Government’s private sector housing grant, with around £6m annually having been allocated in recent years.

Council chiefs have admitted that the number of tenement properties having to be evacuated or requiring emergency stabilisation work is rising.

The local authority has blamed lack of appetite from private landlords, affordability issues and poor forward planning for the state of the city’s tenements.

He revealed that one tenement in the southside, which now sits vacant after being deemed too dangerous to live in, has a repair bill of more than £700,000.

Another in the south side has also been deemed too dangerous and the cost to repair it is more than £800,000.

Over the next 12 months the council will carry out condition surveys of around 500 pre-1919 tenement properties across the city.

‘Billions needed’ to fix Glasgow’s crumbling tenement blocks

The usual response will NOT be acceptable

I don’t seem to have seen any follow-up articles to this story, but I can’t see it being ignored.

I expect, at some point, to see the usual army of council-bashers appear, and provide their normal knee-jerk reaction, kicking the Glasgow City Council, and producing a list of reasons blaming it as the cause of this issue.

But I suggest a moment’s thought before accepting their standard vitriol, and a review of the problem, and who contributed to it.

I happen to have personal experience of tenement repair dealings some years ago, and it cost me tens of thousands of pounds, directly and indirectly.

I inherited a tenement flat, probably then worth around £20 k in the east end.

Didn’t need, so it was to be sold.

Guess what?

UNSELLABLE (or at leat no buyer would get a mortgage) as it needed serious structural repairs – a survey showed one wall facing the street to have a bulge.

Being a tenement, the repair needed consent and money from ALL the tenants sharing the wall, which included shop owners on the ground floor.

The shop owners (and I can’t make a racist comment here, but we didn’t ‘look’ like ‘their people’) told us to ‘Go take a running jump’ as they had no interest in talking to us, in the repair, or contributing, as the bulge did not affect their business, and fixing it would not make them any money, or bring them any benefits.

The other flats were owned by the local housing association, whose only interest was to get ‘us’ out of the building so they could add the flat to their portfolio. They also had no interest in contributing to the repair.

And their tenants didn’t want to know, since they were just renting their flats.

Total stalemate for decades!

There was no compulsion since the building was not unsafe, just unmortgageable.

We were, of course, invited to pay for the work ourselves, rather than paying just our share, we were welcome to pay for everyone else’s.

We eventually lost the flat for a few thousand, because we had managed to get the council tax suspended, but the collector was getting fed up, and looked as if the suspension would not only end, but the unpaid tax would fall due as well. And as I said, this went on not for years, but decades.

The reason I illustrate this point in some detail is merely to demonstrate that while the council may be at the top of tree in some respects, it is NOT responsible for the detailed day-to-day handling of tenements, but does come into the headlines when others land problems in its lap.

And the parties who are REALLY responsible sneak off into the shadows with a ‘Not my problem mate’ smirk.

I’ve also read one or two histories of our tenements, and would point out there were just as many ‘cowboy builders’ around in 1900 as there are today.

While the sandstone facades may seem superior, I’ve read it was not uncommon to find that the brickwork behind it is shoddy, and that some were found to be packed out with newspaper and cardboard during the demolitions carried out in the 1960s and 1970s.

This sort of stuff simply can’t be seen from the outside, but can explain why some tenements are falling apart today, and in such bad condition.

This issue needs to be addressed responsibly, by those who have had a hand in it over the years.

NOT by simply kicking the council as if it was the ONLY party involved.

Glasgow Tenement

Glasgow Tenement (now demolished)

30/11/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Oops – Tidal weir repair cost creeps up, but will bring more safety too

I mentioned how the cost of repairs to the failed tidal weir were set to need a bit of dig to find the anticipated cost of some £6 million.

The cost is expected to rise to £7 million to ensure full functionality is restored, that all the repairs to the banks and access is restored, and that the system will not be able to fail in a similar way in future.

Of course, there’s always someone who’s not happy – either the Council is not spending ENOUGH money on a project, or is spending TOO MUCH!

But Jim Kavanagh insisted a cheaper option should have been sought.

He said: “I’m acutely aware how technology moves on and the council are looking for the modern-day gadgets that tick all the boxes.

“The mechanical system that was fitted 120 years ago proved adequate.

“The money we’ve allocated should be used to look at other options in times of austerity. If the people in the street have to face cuts, the council has to look at a fit for purpose system.”

New life-saving equipment installed on River Clyde as part of £7m tidal weir project

I love Jim’s observation “The mechanical system that was fitted 120 years ago proved adequate.

I wonder where the damaged banks and jammed gate came from if the old system ‘proved adequate‘?

Ah well…

Damned if you do – damned if you don’t.

Maybe the Council should take the £6 million back, and use it to fix the Winter Gardens and People’s Palace. Maybe that would keep some people happier.


There’s better news regarding safety around the river.

Meanwhile it has been revealed that a petition for better safety equipment on the banks of the Clyde is being looked upon favourably.

Duncan Speirs and his wife Margaret, from Balornock, launched the petition after the death of their son Christopher, 28, in January 2016.

He slipped on the banks of the river after a night out and despite attempts by police officers to save him, he drowned.

In response to that petition, Glasgow City Council officer Andy Waddell said: “What’s been in development for last month is an action plan which commits to six actions including the attachment of ropes to lifelines and improved signage.”

That work is expected to coincide with the tidal weir project.

Clyde Tidal Weir From West

Clyde Tidal Weir

21/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

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