Minutes 18 November 2015

Minutes of the Meeting of Kennington Park Estate Tenants’ Association held on

18 November 2015 at Kennington Park Estate Community Centre

 Present:          25 tenants and leaseholders of Kennington Park Estate: Joan Twelves in the chair

In attendance:           Kate Hoey MP, Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cllr Claire Holland, Cllr Jane Edbrooke, Nigel Walker, HSH Resident Services Manager

  1. Apologies for absence

Apologies for absence were received from, Cllr Claire Holland, Raquel Mattos, Lynne Philips, Tina Edoja (HSH Housing Officer).

  1. Minutes of last meeting of the Tenants’ Association held on 15 July 2015

The minutes of the 15 July 2015 meeting of the Tenants’ Association were approved as a correct record of that meeting.

(Note: A summary of the proceedings at the Tenants’ Association AGM held on 23 September 2015 was circulated for information.) 

  1. Matters arising from the minutes of the last meeting

It was noted that at the July meeting there had been a detailed discussion about anti-social behaviour involving serious disturbances in the Key and Blythe court yard.  While it was acknowledged that some of the management action recommended by the Oval Police and strongly supported by residents had been taken, other urgent action remained outstanding.  Steph Poynts, Deputy Chair of the Tenants’ Association, expressed serious concern in relation to the length of time it had taken to make some of the urgently needed changes recommended by the police and with reference to day to day maintenance issues such as communal lighting, she questioned the HSH Resident Services Manager in an attempt to ascertain why repairs had been outstanding for a considerable period of time and why such essential repairs had not been dealt with in the normal course of regular maintenance.  The RSM confirmed that HSH housing managers were working closely with the Oval Police and agreed to send to Steph Poynts a summary of the recommendations made by the Police in the report to HSH on the professional police assessment of the situation and proposals to address the problems.  The TA agreed to ensure it remained in close touch with the situation in Key and Blythe and to maintain pressure on management to complete the urgent work .

The record of the July and September TA meetings demonstrated the dissatisfaction of residents in terms of outstanding repairs both individual and communal. 

Kate Hoey MP: The Housing and Planning Bill

The Chair welcomed Kate Hoey, Member of Parliament for Vauxhall, to the TA meeting and invited her to give a briefing on the proposals contained in the Housing and Planning Bill, currently under consideration in Parliament. 

Kate explained as follows:

  • The proposals in the Housing and Planning Bill were aimed at home ownership
  • However, over two million homes (social housing at social rents) had been sold under RtB but the receipts had not been used to provide new social housing
  • New housing which was being built was not in the least affordable to ordinary people on ordinary wages
  • Right to buy had resulted in widespread ownership of flats on housing estates by private landlords leading to houses in multiple occupation with very high rents and occupants with no stake in the local community
  • The new proposal was to extend RtB to housing association tenants including a significant discount, not at the expense of the government but at the expense of the local authority from the forced sale of high value properties
  • This represented a serious attack on local authority social housing, particularly in London, as most property in London was high value in comparison with much of the rest of the country.
  • The new proposals also included Pay to Stay. Mandatory for local authorities but voluntary for housing associations. 
  • If the income in a tenant household amounts collectively to more than £40,000 per annum, the rent will rise to anything up to market rent.
  • The assumption will be that market rent will apply if tenants refuse to disclose their income
  • However, at the same time, because of its location, there were major housing developments in Lambeth, many of which would be sold to speculators as buy to leave or buy to rent
  • Cllr Hopkins added that housing developers were no longer obliged under law to provide social housing as part of a major development
  • Also that the Council was intending to avoid RtB in the case of the new housing under its control
  • The government was also likely to include in the Bill the end of lifetime tenancies in social housing
  • Kate concluded by confirming further detail of the Bill was still to emerge and it could be worse.
  • It was essential tenants of social housing were fully aware of the intentions of this government and vigorously voiced objections

Residents expressed the deepest concern about all aspects of the proposals in the Bill and the profound implications for social housing and individual tenants. 

  1. Housing management and estate management issues. (Reports and queries from tenants and leaseholders for the attention of HSH management)

Tenants and leaseholders reported housing management and estate management issues as follows:

  • It was confirmed that formal legal action had been initiated with reference to potential breach of landlord obligations and outstanding repairs
  • As per the previous discussion about anti-social behaviour in the Key and Blythe court yard, residents reported that the lights on the individual lamp columns were still out of order, the abandoned car had still not been removed and the window repairs to the rear of the retail units had been very poorly executed leaving a very unsatisfactory appearance.
  • It was also reported that children appeared to be accessing the Blythe House roof space and access to the roof space via the ladder provided for the purpose and the trap door must be secured without delay.
  1. Report from meeting with Hyde Plus with reference to youth activities

The TA had held a meeting with senior staff from Hyde Plus to discuss the urgent need for a good range of activities for young people on Kennington Park Estate with a view to diverting them from involvement in anti-social activities.  Hyde Plus staff confirmed that there were activities for young people at the Community Centre two evenings a week.  It was also confirmed that during construction work for the redevelopment of the site of the Community Centre, such activities were to be based at Henry Fawcett School.

However, on the basis that redevelopment of the Community Centre was not starting in January 2016, the TA insisted on Hyde ensuring it was available for use at the beginning of 2016 up to the time the redevelopment work started on site. 

  1. Report from Executive Committee of the Tenants’ Association

6.1       Disrepair issues and support for residents

Residents were encouraged to report disrepair to the TA, particularly if it was a problem which had not been resolved after a long time.  The TA confirmed that with reference to sanitation, waste pipes and drainage it was definitely the landlord’s responsibility to keep them in proper working order.

6.2       KPETA work on scrutiny of Service Charges

TA Officers confirmed work was continuing on the detailed work of scrutinising service charges on behalf of residents of Kennington Park Estate.  Regular meetings had been held with the Hyde Director responsible.  However, the TA  was asking questions seeking evidence and justification with reference to service charges which did not appear to be applicable to Kennington Park Estate.  Hyde appeared to be experiencing difficulty in giving a straight answer to a straight question.

6.3       Proposal from Hyde to redevelop the site of the Kennington Park Estate Community Centre

It was reported that Hyde’s plans were still in abeyance while negotiations were held with TfL about the potential to make deliveries to the proposed ground floor retail unit from Harleyford Street.  Hyde had intended to gain planning permission and start on site before the end of the current financial year.  As reported above, following TA discussions with Hyde senior staff, Hyde agreed not to close the Community Centre at the end of 2015, but keep it open and available until April.

6.4       Redevelopment of Gasholder Site

As previously reported, the gasholders had been decommissioned and the Council was working with Berkeley Homes on a potential master plan for the site.  Further consultation with the local community had been undertaken with a special extra meeting for KPE residents on 12 November 2015.  Berkeley Homes  in association with the TA was also organising a family fund day for 5 December to give residents another opportunity to learn about the proposals and make comments.

6.5       Programme of Planned and Cyclical Maintenance with reference to Kennington Park Estate

Deferred due to time constraint.  (Note: A comprehensive, regular maintenance programme was one of the main reasons residents of Kennington Park Estate voted to transfer ownership of the Estate from the Council to HSH.  The promise made to residents by HSH at the time of transfer was: Over the following thirty years a fully funded programme of regular repairs and maintenance will make sure the Estates do not fall into disrepair again.  Plus: to undertake in accordance with Good Industry Practice a properly funded programme of cyclical maintenance for a period which shall not be less than 30 years starting from the completion date.)

6.6       Report from Recent Estate Inspections

It was reported that recent inspections with the Housing Officer focussed on safety issues including balcony clearance, also cleaning, hard surface weeding, bulk refuse removal and removal of abandoned vehicles.

  1. Report from HSH Resident Forum

The last meeting of the HSH Resident Forum was held at the end of September.  The Forum, consisting of reps from all HSH Tenants’ Associations, including KPE, continued to meet on a quarterly basis even though Hyde/HSH management had withdrawn support.  The Resident Forum reported and discussed the same range of concerns with Hyde management as raised by KPETA and made every effort, along with local Councillors, to hold Hyde/HSH to account.

  1. Report from HSH Resident Assurance Committee and HSH Board

The HSH Board (now subsumed into the centralised GHSB) was regularly requested to report to residents as it was the body which controlled the finances of Hyde Southbank Homes.  A briefing from GHSB was rarely received.

  1. Any Other Business

The Chair announced that our Oval Ward Councillors and housing managers would be available at the Community Centre at 1830 in advance of the meeting on 17 February 2016 to discuss individual problems with KPE residents.

  1. Date of next meeting of Kennington Park Estate Tenants’ Association:

The next meeting was scheduled for 1900, 17 February 2016, (Meeting to organise next meeting 1830, Monday 1 February 2016 at 1A Lockwood House.)  Meeting of the Tenants’ Association thereafter 27 April, 20 July, 21 September (AGM), and 23 November 2016.

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