Minutes 18 February 2015

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

18 February 2015 at Kennington Park Estate Community Centre

Present:          16 tenants and leaseholders of Kennington Park Estate, Marco Barrella in the chair

In attendance:           Jonathan Probyn Samai, HSH Housing Officer, Nigel Wlaker, HSH Resident Services Manager, Claire Holland, Oval Ward Councillor

  1. Apologies for absence

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Jane Edbrooke, Cllr Jack Hopkins, Tamara Williams Harding, Hyde Resident Engagement, Raquel Mattas Moreno, Alex Reuben, Gail Sixsmith, Stephanie Poynts

  1. Minutes of last meeting of the Association held on 19 November 2014

The minutes of the 19 November 2014 meeting of the Tenants’ Association were approved as a correct record of that meeting.

  1. Matters arising from the minutes of the last meeting

At the last meeting residents had registered concern about the management of the Community Centre and the activities on offer from the Community Centre.  TA officers had raised the issue with Hyde Plus, the part of the Hyde Group responsible for running the Community Centre on behalf of residents.  A new door entry system was to be installed for security purposes and improved arrangements for key holders had been made.  Hyde Plus staff were aiming to increase community activities delivered at the Centre.

  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:

  • Mears not keeping appointments and repairs not completed, for example urgent work in Sherwin and Blythe
  • The exact duties and responsibilities of Estate Guardians remained unclear to residents, for example, is it the role of Estate Guardians to report communal lighting when it is out of order and to replace balcony light bulbs?
  • The TA had recently learned that in the event that Mears was commissioned to renew light bulbs, the result was a £30 cost to service charges
  • In order to avoid this extra cost to service charges, residents were recommended to report the requirement for light bulbs to be replaced direct to the housing office
  • Residents of Sherwin reported that the floodlights were still out of order, even after the fault had been reported repeatedly and at every TA meeting for at least ten months
  • The issue of condensation was raised as a matter of continuing concern since the completion of the regeneration works in 2005/6.
  • A particularly severe case existed in Blades House and the Resident Services Manager acknowledged the problem appeared to be in excess of the level condensation caused by normal day to day lifestyle activities and agreed to commission a detailed investigation of this specific problem
  • TA officers also requested information on the most recent research undertaken on damp and condensation in properties of the age and structure of KPE to establish if there were other reasons for increasing damp and condensation problems
  • It was suggested that the effectiveness (or lack of) of window extraction fans might contribute to the problem.
  • TA officers reported that lights had been left on all night in the cleaners room in Lockwood House, wasting electricity, power which was probably charged to Lockwood House communal electricity bill
  1. Proposal from Hyde to redevelop the site of the Kennington Park Estate Community Centre

It was reported that Hyde development staff had received a response from LBL Planning Officers to the details of the proposed housing development on the site of the KPE Community Centre and Harleyford Street Depot.  Planning Officers had made it clear that deliveries for a retail unit through the Alverstone/Lockwood courtyard and a loading bay in front of residents’ front doors in Lockwood House were most unlikely to receive planning permission from LBL.  The Council also insisted on a reduction in the size of the proposed block of flats from 13 units to 9 units including a gap between the new block and Blades House.  Hyde was in the process of changing the plans.  If it was no longer possible to include a retail unit at ground floor level, the ground floor would be used for the Community Centre and office space.  The potential retail business was in discussion with TfL about the possibility of making deliveries from Harleyford Street.  There was to be an opportunity for residents to view and comment on the plans as soon as the revised plans were ready for public exhibition.  It was also confirmed that the nine flats were to be for outright sale at market value and it was likely there would be a separation between the residents of those flats and the residents of Kennington Park Estate, including separate entrances.  It was reported it was possible that the flats could be bought as an investment and either let to tenants of the new owner or left empty to increase in value.

  1. Report from TA Executive Committee

6.1          Progress report on introduction of warden controlled parking enforcement arrangements

It was reported that TA officers had been in protracted correspondence with the London Regional Director, Shaun Holdcroft on the very long delayed introduction of warden controlled parking enforcement arrangements.  The most recent correspondence from Shaun Holdcroft was quoted from as follows

….., I agree that the time taken to review Hyde’s parking policy and complete a successful consultation process has been unreasonably lengthy. In planning this project and considering the extraordinary levels of resident engagement which have been allowed for officers should have been clear on project timescales and cut off dates for key decisions in order that a successful enforcement programme could have been put in place that balanced involvement and progress.

In light of this we have decided, as an offer of good will, to provide something of benefit to all residents who legally park on our estates in Lambeth. As a result, once we have completed the final stage of engagement and the enforcement contractor is in place we intend to offer all residents who currently have a valid parking permit a free three month permit. This effectively offers every resident parking legally with us currently a £45 good will gesture.

Residents were asked if they were inclined to accept the good will offer of £45 or authorise the TA to request a more substantial sum as KPE had been without parking enforcement for nearly two and a half years and the new arrangements were still not in place.  The TA was authorised to seek a good will offer in excess of £45 bearing in mind the inordinate length of time the Estate had been without parking enforcement.  It was reported that HSH management had confirmed the new enforcement arrangements were to be in place at the beginning of March.

6.2          Programme of planned and cyclical maintenance on Kennington Park Estate

This is also an issue the TA was authorised to pursue very vigorously following a detailed discussion at the last TA meeting.  Individual residents and the TA had been challenging Hyde about the absence of a proper external maintenance programme for some time, particularly preventative maintenance in terms of vertical drainage stack clearance.  With the support of our MP we pursued this complaint and in response the Hyde Chief Executive told our MP that:

..we take the view that this is a continuation of the original service request that we are already actively dealing with.  Therefore we do not intend to treat this matter as a service complaint in line with our complaints policy.

Not a complaint?!  Our MP was shocked at this unhelpful response.  The TA was shocked.  Our MP, therefore, wrote to the Chair of the Hyde Group Board on our behalf.  In response to our MP Hyde conceded that:

‘HSH did not have in place a regular planned maintenance regime’, and, ‘I do appreciate it has taken some time’.

The response also confirmed that: part of this new planned maintenance programme includes an annual programme of drain clearance’.  A clear admission that an annual programme is necessaryAlso meaning that Hyde admits that this necessary maintenance and preventative work has not been undertaken for 10 years.  The TA and our MP, Kate Hoey find it unacceptable that it has taken them in excess of a whole year to make arrangements to test just one vertical stack.  What were they doing for more than a year?  Not much other than sending the TA and residents empty messages telling us they were about to start work.  It was reported that our MP was seeking further explanation from the Hyde CE.

6.3          Work on scrutiny of service charges

It was reported that TA Officers continue to scrutinise service charges and continue to identify issues requiring explanation and investigation.  As reported previously, we cannot rely on the accuracy of service charges for communal electricity because the energy supplier uses estimates as opposed to accurate meter readings and under the contract neither Hyde nor residents can insist on charges based on accurate meter readings.  Residents could be paying more than necessary or less than required, neither of which is acceptable.  The TA was also pursuing outstanding issues in connection with service charges for the CCTV service, the door entry system, cleaning and grounds maintenance and the budget for installation of Sheffield stands for bicycle parking.  Other problems had emerged recently in the form of new services charges.  Hyde has been asked for justification.

6.4          Report from recent Estate Inspections

TA reps accompanied Housing Officers on Estate Inspections in January and February.  Two or three blocks are inspected at one time.  The standard of cleaning and grounds maintenance extremely disappointing.  The state of the balconies in almost all cases was not acceptable.  The overall impression was of a clear deterioration since inspections undertaken last year.  Following poor scores from an estate inspection an improvement plan to deal with the shortcomings must be produced and implemented by the responsible Housing Officer.  TA reps wait to see the necessary improvements.

6.5          Decommissioning and redevelopment of gas holder site

As reported in the TA newsletter, the gas holders were decommissioned last year and Berkeley Homes had been commissioned by the Council to develop a master plan for the site (Oval and Kennington Development Area).  TA officers attended a consultation workshop in January.  The publicity material stated We want to develop a master plan which is led by the local community and acts as a guide for future development in the area.  TA reps ensured at every opportunity that the best interests of KPE were at the forefront of the discussion.  On 24 February there was to be an exhibition/presentation of the ideas and suggestions put forward at the initial workshops at the Oval.

7. Report from HSH Resident Forum

The TA Secretary  reported that the HSH Resident Forum consisting of reps from Stockwell TAs as well as reps from Kennington Park Estate TA, were equally frustrated and dissatisfied with services such as the call centre, the repairs service, management of service charges, parking enforcement, communal repairs, contract management and lack of local and central accountability.

8. Report from HSH Resident Assurance Committee and HSH Board

Sonia Reid confirmed that the Resident Assurance Committee was extremely concerned about the level of resident complaints and the inadequate, inconsistent management of complaints by Hyde.  The TA had formally requested a report from the HSH Board but no response had been received.  It was noted that lack of a report from the HSH Board represented lack of accountability to residents

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

The next meeting was scheduled for 1900, 29 April 2015, 1830 to report individual problems to TA Officers.  (Meeting of Executive Committee to organise next meeting, 1830, Monday, 13 April 2015, 1A Lockwood Hse).  Meetings of the Tenants’ Association thereafter, 15 July, 23 September (AGM), 18 November 2015

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