Tenants’ Association News – July 2017

Come to our July meeting to discuss all these topics and more –

 

Fire Safety

In the wake of the Grenfell disaster we will be discussing what this terrible tragedy means for us. We don’t live in tower blocks, so should we be concerned about fire safety? How good are Hyde’s Fire Risk Assessments?

 

 

Grenfell residents were ignored when they raised concerns. Isn’t it time social housing residents were listened to?

 

 

Kennington Park Community Centre – KPCC Oval
 Our Community Centre is now OUR community centre. As a result of our campaign to stop it being closed and demolished, from this month the TRA is jointly managing it alongside Hyde. We are responsible for bookings and the day-to-day running of the Centre while Hyde will continue to maintain it and deal with financial matters.

 

Joan Twelves and Jahanara Rajkoomar

We have signed a Licence which ensures it will stay open for at least another 12 months – until 31 July 2018 – and it looks as though Hyde’s plans to redevelop the site to build luxury flats are on hold for a while yet. Come and get involved – and look out for the notices of what’s on, starting with a festival of mural painting at the beginning of August. The Centre will soon have its own website at http://kpccoval.org/ and email at kpccoval@gmail.com.

 

Service Charges and Rents

 

 Despite rents and service charges having increased in April 2017 – and Hyde then sending out revised service charge bills following the TRA complaining that the initial ones had included charges for a virtually non-existent service (CCTV monitoring) and excluded caretaking costs – tenants are still awaiting formal notification of the exact amount we have to pay each week/month and direct debits have still not been adjusted. This is despite repeated assertions by Hyde that this is about to happen. The adjustments may be small, but the bills are not. 15% of each of our service charge bills goes to ‘Management Fees for Hyde Services’. Hyde’s repeated inability to charge the correct amounts for the most fundamental of its responsibilities is in our view symptomatic of its failures as a social landlord.

 

CCTV

 

 Hyde wrote to residents in May asking for our views on whether an upgraded CCTV monitoring system should be provided in-house or outsourced. The TRA was most concerned about the content of this letter, which was based on inaccurate and misleading information about the history of the installation of CCTV locally, because it did not provide any data on the effectiveness of CCTV as a tool in the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour, provided no information on the financial implications of the proposals and did not give residents an opportunity to express our views on whether or not we wanted to continue to pay substantial service charges for not just the continuation of CCTV but for an inevitably expensive upgrade.

We have submitted formal complaints on behalf of residents and will report further on their outcomes.

Grenfell Tower Fire

The Grenfell Tower fire is a tragic disaster and our hearts go out to everyone involved – those who have lost their lives, those who have lost their family, friends and loved ones, those who have lost their homes, their possessions and their valued memories.

 

And our admiration and respect goes to all those who headed into the blazing inferno to save lives at such risk to their own.

 

 

As social housing residents we feel a strong sense of solidarity with the Grenfell Tower residents, and we share their grief and anger. We can breathe a sigh of relief that we have no tower blocks on Kennington Park Estate. But our fellow Hyde residents on the Grantham Road Estate in Stockwell and our close neighbours on the Ashmole Estate do, as do many other estates across Lambeth.

The open design of our Estate means that the risks we face are totally different to those in high rise blocks. But there is always a risk of fire and our landlord still has a responsibility to take all possible steps to minimise that risk.

Hyde has employed consultants to carry out the required Fire Risk Assessments. It has taken the TRA many months of asking to receive the consultants’ reports prepared in August 2015, and we are not at all happy about their accuracy. In at least one instance we have been obliged to ask whether the assessment was undertaken as a “desk exercise” so inaccurate is its description of part of a block.

The inaccuracies we have identified are not of the life-threatening level of seriousness they might be if the design of our estate was different. But it scares us to think that the same inadequate approach may have been repeated in other Hyde properties.

It is reassuring therefore to hear that the Fire Service inspected Hyde’s five tower blocks in Stockwell yesterday.

Hyde has not only been reluctant to share these reports with the TRA, they have still failed to answer our repeated questions about what exact fire safety equipment are we being charged for in our service charges? Why are we being charged for the checking of non-existent fire extinguishers and smoke vents in communal areas?

Tenants have smoke alarms fitted as standard. Leaseholders do not – and several leasehold flats on this Estate are multi-occupied dwellings where common sense tells us the risk of fire must be higher. If only some flats have smoke alarms then we are all at risk – we will be campaigning for Hyde to fit smoke alarms in every flat regardless of its form of tenure.

Whilst we stand in sympathy and solidarity with our fellow social housing residents across London, we will continue to work for the residents here to ensure that all our homes are safe and that we can all feel secure in our beds at night.

Joan, Marilyn and Stephanie

KPETRA Officers

 

 

News from the Hyde Foundation

A new youth outreach project is starting on Kennington Park Estate in June, supported by The Hyde Foundation.

 

Three experienced outreach workers, Julian, Martine and Junior, will be on the Estate three times a week in the evenings for the next 6 months. The project aims to engage young people who are out on the Estate, and support them to access local provision and other positive opportunities. If residents want to meet outreach workers or arrange for them to work with particular young people living on the estate contact martine@utcs.org.uk. Youth workers will all have ID badges when working on the estate.

Local communities need local community centres!

Kennington Park Community Centre – at the heart of our Estate – has been run by Hyde Housing since it took over the Estate from Lambeth Council in 2005. Hyde recently decided to hand the running of its community centres across London to other organisations and, in the case of KPCC, to explore developing the space it occupies to build private flats.

 

The Tenants & Residents Association, along with our neighbours supporting Hyde’s Stockwell Centre, launched an immediate campaign to Save KPCC, which has been most successful in raising public awareness of its value. We have had a lot of support from local people, both Estate residents and those who live and work in the wider neighbourhood, as well as local businesses and organisations – for which we thank you.

In parallel to our campaign we have been talking to Hyde about how to keep the Centre open and we have now agreed an interim management arrangement whereby, from 1 July 2017, the day-to-day management and operation of KPCC will be managed by the TRA.

Our partnership agreement will ensure that KPCC remains open and available for community use and activities for the immediate future.  We will be looking to increase usage of KPCC, and develop connections with local enterprises who require event and meeting space.

Our approach will balance the financial needs of KPCC with the aspiration to ensure the Centre has a sustainable future and continues to support local residents and community groups.  

Our campaign to keep the Centre continues – we oppose its demolition and will fight to keep it. But in the meantime our aim is to turn the Centre round so that it is a viable and thriving local resource. Over the next few weeks we will be launching a dedicated website (www.kpccoval.org) where you will be able to book the Centre for your events. In the meantime

For bookings until 1 July 2017 please contact Hyde on 0207 346 6576, email kpcc@hyde-housing.co.uk or stockwellcentre@hyde-housing.co.uk.

For all enquiries about bookings after 1 July 2017 or any questions about KPCC please contact the TRA by email kpccoval@gmail.com or text 07777 640 367. 

We can also be contacted via the contact form on the right hand side of this page.

Over the next few weeks we will be launching a dedicated website (www.kpccoval.org) and a dedicated phone number.

Support KPCC by using KPCC!

Research – Housing for Disabled People

Tpas is currently undertaking some research into Housing for Disabled People on behalf of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and they are looking for tenants to participate in their Focus Groups. The tenants they need to get involved must Live in general needs social housing (please note this does NOT   include care or support housing) Have a disability, including mental health conditions, with or without physical impairment. Want to get their voice heard around key issues such as tenancy support, dealing with harassment or neighbourhood disputes and the process of applying for housing. Be able to attend a Focus Group on 18th July 2017 at a central venue (exact venue will be confirmed at a later date) All travel expenses will be paid and each session will last no more than two hours in total. As well as being part of this important research, they will also receive a £5 gift voucher for attending. …

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TRA meeting 12 July 2017

The next TRA meeting is on Wednesday 12 July 2017 at the Community Centre. The agenda is below A G E N D A Welcome and Introductions Apologies for absence Minutes of the last meeting of the Association held on 26 April 2017: For approval and matters arising (here) Kennington Park Estate Community Centre – an update Fire Safety – to discuss (a) the implications of the Grenfell disaster and (b) Hyde’s Fire Risk Assessments for this Estate Housing management and estate management issues. Reports and queries from tenants and leaseholders for the attention of HSH management Report from TA Executive Committee CCTV – Hyde’s latest proposals Rents and service charges Any other business    

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Ovalhouse call out for performers!

Ovalhouse Creative Youth Call out for performers for LIVE NIGHT! at Ovalhouse     PERFORMERS WANTED! Come and perform at LIVE NIGHT! on Friday 30 June at Ovalhouse. Ovalhouse Creative Youth are looking for singers, songwriters, musicians, poets, spoken word artists and performers who want a platform for their voice. Our theme for this LIVE NIGHT! is DREAMS & NIGHTMARES: wild, wonderful and frightening. Creative young minds exploring our subconscious. You can create original work for LIVE NIGHT! or perform an existing piece. This call out is open to everyone aged 16 – 25 from Lambeth. If you’re interested in performing, please email Rachel at creative.youth@ovalhouse.com with the following details: Your name and age ● A description of yourself in 50 words ● Two examples of your work, e.g. Youtube / Soundcloud links ● Tell us how your work responds to the theme DREAMS & NIGHTMARES ● Tell us if …

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