Kennington Park Estate Tenants’ Association Annual Report 2012 to 2013
Annual General Meeting: 25 September 2013
Kennington Park Estate Tenants’ Association has undertaken the following activities on behalf of all tenants and leaseholders during the period since the last TA AGM in September 2012:
- Service charge scrutiny and review
- CCTV system including the disproportionate service charge to KPE and our formal request for a full review
- Parking enforcement consultation
- Cleaning and grounds maintenance contract
- Development of the KPETA website
- Briefing on welfare benefit cuts
Service charge scrutiny and review
The TA remains closely involved in scrutinising service charges on behalf of residents of Kennington Park Estate. The TA gave a detailed report at the AGM last year on the areas in which inaccurate and inconsistent service charges had been challenged by TA representatives and subsequently reduced or removed.
After another year’s work further progress has been made but very slowly. The lack of local knowledge among the hierarchy at Hyde Head office and the failure by Head Office to understand and respond to our local circumstances in relation to scrutiny of service charges demonstrates clearly why there are strong objections to even more centralisation of structures and services on the part of Hyde. At the time of transfer from LBL to HSH, the clear intention was to retain a significant amount of local autonomy and control and to ensure HSH resident representation in all decisions affecting HSH, including, and most importantly, the way our money (Note: our money) is spent.
CCTV monitoring system and service charge
The TA reported to residents at this time last year that the TA had formally requested a full review of the CCTV service because of dissatisfaction over the service itself and great concern over the disproportionate charges to Kennington Park Estate for the service.
At last, we can confirm that the review is in progress although the TA has seen no evidence of information gathering or consultation with residents about the service. The specification for the review includes consultation with residents about our experience of the service. Unfortunately, from the time the TA asked for this review it has taken a year for Hyde to make arrangements for the review to be undertaken. Due to the lack of progress the TA submitted a formal complaint in October last year, then an even more formal complaint through our MP in July this year. It is of course, wholly unacceptable that our MP has to intervene before our complaints are taken seriously.
A Stage Three complaint hearing was held last week. We made a formal presentation to the Panel and concluded by stating the outcome desired by the Kennington Park Estate Tenants Association, as follows:
- An acknowledgement of service failure on the part of HSH and/or Hyde
- A change in the apportionment of the service charge for the CCTV monitoring service based on the number of cameras monitored.
- Reimbursement to KPE residents of the ineligible/excess charges since installation of the CCTV system at KPE.
- All of the issues raised by KPETA and included in the complaint documentation to be submitted to Campbell and Tickell to be incorporated into the review of the CCTV service currently in hand. A specific consultation meeting with reference to the CCTV review to be arranged at the very earliest opportunity between KPETA and the Campbell and Tickell consultants undertaking the review.
The outcome of the Complaints Hearing is scheduled for publication within ten days, at the end September/beginning of October.
Parking enforcement consultation
HSH managers were well aware from the beginning of last year that clamping as a form of parking enforcement would no longer be permitted by law from October 2012. The TA enquired of management at every opportunity what mechanism for parking enforcement was to be implemented from October. As residents know, management has been extremely slow in making proposals for the new form of enforcement.
An initial letter of consultation was issued a couple of months ago just before the last TA meeting. The letter omitted the majority of the detail residents needed to make sense of what was proposed and at that TA meeting, residents present unanimously rejected the consultation letter and referred it back for a total redraft to ensure the revised consultation documentation responded to all the comments and questions from residents and the TA. The TA asked to be consulted on the content before the redrafted information was issued to residents. Two months on, no further progress has been made.
Cleaning and grounds maintenance contract
The current contract for cleaning and grounds maintenance expires at the beginning of July next year, 2014. For a long time now the TA has been asking management for full details of the reprocurement process in order to ensure that Kennington Park Estate is fully involved from start to finish in all aspects of the selection of the new contractors. It appears, from the responses received so far, that Hyde Head Office has no intention of involving KPETA in the process. The TA has emphasised over and over again in discussions with management that both cleaning and grounds maintenance are of fundamental importance to every resident of KPE, particularly as all residents pay a significant amount for these critical aspects of the service. TA representatives made a point of raising the issue at the meeting with Hyde managers on 18 September 2013. Shaun Holdcroft, the Regional Director promised to respond to our enquiry within a short time.
Changes to the Hyde Southbank Homes Board
The purpose of the meeting on 18 September was to discuss the governance changes and for managers to hear the response of residents to the changes. Residents of Kennington Park Estate recorded serious objections to the proposed changes on the basis that, as described in our leaflet, A more remote HSH Board with no HSH residents and no local councillors means no local voice, no local control, no local understanding, no local knowledge, and is very likely to result in a less responsive service to us at the local level.
The TA is concerned that this is exactly what we are finding already as Hyde moves towards the new governance arrangements. We know that services and systems organised and controlled from the centre (with little or no HSH resident influence) take little or no account of our local circumstances. Will the new cleaning and grounds maintenance contracts be specified and negotiated with no proper involvement from residents of KPE? At its 9 September meeting the Resident Forum including representatives of KPETA and Stockwell TAs, unanimously agreed the following:
In the light of, for example, our experience (as residents) of Hyde’s centralised call centre where the operatives do not know who we are or where we are or the history of the problem we are trying to tell them about, this Forum, on behalf of HSH residents, is seriously concerned that a more remote HSH Board with no HSH residents and no local councillors means no local voice, no local control, no local understanding, no local knowledge and is very likely to result in a less responsive service to us at the local level. The Forum, therefore, objects to Hyde reducing our local democracy in this way
Kennington Park Estate Tenants’ Association Website
The only expense the TA has incurred over the last year is the cost of establishing the website.
The TA is extremely grateful to Joan for her work on developing and initiating the website. Do have a look next time you are connected to the internet. Please let us know if you have information you feel it would be useful to publish on the website. We shall try to keep it up to date.
Changes to welfare benefits
Residents will be aware that the Opposition has, at last, announced it will repeal the bedroom tax if elected to government at the next general election in 2015. Since the moment it was proposed by the current government, the TA has expressed the deepest concern about the effect of the bedroom tax on tenants who are on benefits. It has been a very worrying time for tenants who cannot afford to pay the extra rent, and unfortunately, will continue to be a major problem until the bedroom tax (spare room subsidy!) is abolished. Support and advice is available to tenants who need it.
The Tenants’ Association arranged a briefing on the welfare benefit changes at a meeting early in 2013 and published information for tenants signposting to useful advice agencies.
Kennington Park Estate Tenants’ Association
At 25 September 2013 the TA bank account showed a balance of £1,450.
£200 was spent on development of the KPETA website
(In September 2012 the balance was £1,684.29)