Looking at the Haiti disaster news unfolding day by day I am very conscious that there can’t be many things worse than having your home collapse without warning and being trapped inside.
So at the moment I am extra conscious of my concerns about the safety of the cliff that will be only four metres away from people’s homes.
Yesterday I was talking to someone who had occasion to visit the site recently, he is a well known and respected local businessman and frankly what he said appalled me, like me he has some sort of background in engineering, can read a scale drawing and he has some understanding of what can and can’t be done in the real world.
He said had read some of my blog posts about the site and so he had a look at the foundations all the way along the façade, he said they looked worse in reality than in my photographs see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts11/id31.htm I know this doesn’t say much for my ability as a photographer. In my defence I can only say that I was so shocked by what I saw that I didn’t record it in the methodical way I should have done. Next time I have a chance to get on the site I will try and do abetter job.
What he had to say about the repair work, to the repair work that is going on down there was this.
“I went down when the snow was still on the ground and work had been suspended for some time.
No proper foundations have been dug for the panel being repaired, I think this may have been because they were afraid of disturbing the ground near the supporting columns that don’t appear to have any foundations.
A concrete strip has been laid on the exposed topsoil there above ground level.”
I asked him if this was on solid chalk. He said.
“No on nothing much at all really just muddy chalky soil.”
He went on to say.
“The block work is single block thick, not tied to the columns or the chalk cliff in any way, something that may have passed muster in the 1930s when the original panel was built, but certainly not to a standard that would be acceptable today.
The cavities in the blocks – these are oblong concrete cast blocks with two square holes and are laid hole over hole leaving a line of square holes running all the way down inside the wall – had been filled with concrete and bits of reinforcing rod had been pushed in the top, running down inside the wall.
At this time the concrete had set hard and shrunk away from the reinforcing rods, so that it was possible to lift them out of the holes.”
He also said that he was surprised that they hadn’t investigated the other panels, as presumably they would be expected to last the life of the new development and it would be much easier to sort out any problems now than when the new development had been built.
I went to have a quick look after taking the children to school and before opening the shop this morning, I didn’t have much time, but took the picture above from the top of the cliff (click on it to enlarge).
Now when you see two men operating a hoist to get buckets of concrete up scaffolding then wearing a hard hat is mandatory, this is because if a bucket of concrete falls on your head it kills you.
So if they had such an apparent disregard for their own safety, how much concern have they for the safety of the construction workers that are supposed to be starting on the development in about three weeks, or the people who will be living in the development.
The council say the work is being undertaken by the council's term contractor, council work on council owned land.
Here is the link to the other pictures I took this morning http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts110/id9.htm I have made some attempt to get the bits out of my camera, so have put them up bigger than usual.
I am beginning to wonder if the councils desire to sell this site hasn’t reached the point where there actions are going to wind up costing us a considerable amount of money.
They seem to have agreed to sell SFP Ventures a site that isn’t safe to build on, I don’t really think any contractor large enough to take on the building of the development will wish to proceed without an independent survey of the cliff safety issues.
I don’t think anyone looking at my pictures at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts11/id31.htm would want to start boring the hole for the building support piles four metres away form the cliff façade without one.
So if there is an independent survey and it confirms what I and several other people fear i.e. that the cliff façade isn’t safe – despite the fact that the council and the council’s technical advisors say that it is safe - the ensuing legal battle could go on for years.
This is not a happy thought for the future prosperity of Ramsgate, nor does it bode well for the council’s already overstretched budget, perhaps the council officers involved are hoping that the development will be delayed until they are safely retired.
Another question here is why didn’t the council go back to the contractor they paid a million pounds to for the cliff repairs and ask them to do a proper job, the bulge was there when the work was done, the council say in today’s Your Thanet see http://www.yourthanet.co.uk/kent-news/Cliff__collapse-worries-at-Pleasurama-site-newsinkent32003.aspx?news=local that the bulge wasn’t there when the work was done, although I have photographs taken at the time and you can clearly see the bulge once you know what to look for.
You can also see in the pictures I took that caused the present repairs to be done that the contractor has filled the crack in the middle of the bulge before it was painted, so why are we shelling out an extra £1,500.