Up To Their Necks…

The Derbyshire Independent today calls for an independent inquiry into Derby’s Copper Building.

We publish here the key points of our investigation that evidences multiple public sector organisations colluding to conceal the lack of fire escape in the University of Derby’s six-storey Copper Building.

• A six-storey building built without a fire escape in direct contravention of building regulations.

• A deal for the University of Derby to take a thirty year lease was brokered at the MIPIM property developers’ conference at Cannes in the South of France in March 2015. Present were the Acting Chief Executive of Derby City Council, the building’s developers, a Monaco-based investor, and representatives from the University of Derby. An eye witness reports a meeting taking place on a luxury yacht.

• Planning permission for change of use approved by Derby City Council in 2015 without a site inspection despite the application including architect’s drawings depicting a fire escape that didn’t exist.

• Derby City Council had a £3.5 million dependency on planning approval for change of use by the University of Derby.

• No anti-money laundering procedures were put in place by Derby City Council despite the £3.5 million loan of public money for the Copper Building’s development.

The Derbyshire Independent seized documentary evidence of covert offshore investment involved in the council sponsored development of the Copper Building, including multiple shell companies and entities based in the British Virgin Islands that are contained within the Panama Papers money laundering database.

• Multiple public complaints received about the lack of fire escape from 2015 onwards.

• The Copper Building was used without a fire escape for three years for public events and to house hundreds of University of Derby students and police recruits for lectures and tutorials.

• Senior executive management of the University of Derby misled students by telling them that there were no occupancy restrictions on floors with lecture theatres.

• A Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service fire safety inspector cited an out of date fire safety strategy with severe occupancy restrictions and told The Derbyshire Independent: “If there had been a fire, that would be evidence of risk. There is no evidence of risk.”

• A people counting system cited as part of fire safety precautions is marketed by its supplier as ‘not 100% accurate’ and ‘should never be used for fire safety purposes’.

• Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service stated that it expected that its tall building appliance would be able to rescue students before they suffocated if they became trapped in the single central stairway or landings, despite there being no direct external access to the stairway or landings.

• A whistleblowing student who served copies of building regulations on senior university staff was targeted by the university for exclusion.

• The University of Derby cancelled a December 2015 invitation to tender to build a fire escape.

• Derby City Council changed its response to a related Freedom of Information request the day after the June 2017 Grenfell Towers fire.

• A fire escape finally was completed by the university in [the summer of] 2018.

• Derbyshire Constabulary confirmed that it had not conducted a risk assessment related to police recruits being trained within the building.

• Derbyshire Constabulary refused to provide details of procedure for engagement of external force to investigate.

• Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner refused to hold his Chief Constable to account despite knowing that police recruits were being trained in the building.

• Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner was simultaneously the Vice Chair of Derby City Council’s scrutiny and governance committee.

• There is evidence of negligence and collusion to conceal the lack of fire escape by the Copper Building’s developer, the University of Derby, Derby City Council, Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, Derbyshire Constabulary, and local media.

The Derbyshire Independent believes that it is time for a fully independent inquiry to expose those who put money and commercial interests before public safety.

Categories: Featured, Government, Trending

1 reply »

  1. The cleaning staff told me in 2015 that the developer knew that the fire escape needed to be constructed but they’d run out of money. One of the project managers told me that the university cancelled its own plans to build the fire escape in 2015 because they’d got no budget for it. If the city council said that it didn’t inspect the building, they’re lying. I saw their officers inside the building in 2015.

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