Minutes of the meeting of Kennington Park Estate Tenants’ Association held on
27 November 2013 at the Kennington Park Estate Community Centre
Present: Marco Barrella (in the chair) and 20 tenants and leaseholders of Kennington Park Estate
In attendance: Cllr Jane Edbrooke, Nigel Walker, HSH Resident Services Manager, Jose McKay, HSH Housing Officer, Genevie George, Hyde Plus Neighbourhood Investment Manager, Gloria Lawrence, Hyde Plus Community Facilities Manager
1. Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Hopkins.
2. Minutes of the last meeting held on 17 July 2013: For approval
The minutes of the last meeting were approved as a correct record of that meeting.
2.1 Matters arising from the minutes of the last meeting
It was agreed that all matters arising from the minutes of the previous meeting were covered by the agenda for this meeting.
3. Consultation on new parking arrangements
It was confirmed that at the previous TA meeting in July the consultation material was discussed at length and it was agreed there was not enough detailed information provided to enable residents to reach a decision about which option might be the most effective and/or best value for money. It was agreed unanimously that it was not possible to vote in the absence of critical, detailed information in relation to the implications of each of the options proposed. At the previous TA meeting it was also agreed the TA was to write to HSH management on behalf of residents to request the consultation information be redrafted and to request arrangements be made for consultation meetings to give residents the opportunity to share concerns and to ask questions and seek clarification from HSH management. However, the consultation material had not yet, at the time of this meeting, been redrafted and reissued. It was agreed this was a matter of significant concern and dissatisfaction to residents in that conscientious residents were paying for a parking permit but there had been no mechanism for enforcement against unauthorised parking for over a year. The most recent information received from management was that consultation meetings were to be held in mid December.
4. Housing and estate management issues: Reports/questions from residents
4.1 Internal drainage blockages and back surge
A resident of Hornby House reported on the serious back surge and flooding problems experienced at Hornby House over the previous week and the poor, unacceptable response received from both the call centre and senior management. The resident made eleven telephone calls trying to persuade the Hyde repairs service that the flooding caused by blocked drains and subsequent back surge was an emergency situation which must be responded to as an emergency. He was shocked at the unhelpful, dismissive response received from Hyde. He was treated by staff as if they were doing him a favour. They ignored the fact that waste water from the drains was flooding his home and those of his neighbours including vulnerable older residents.
- He asked why such a desperate situation was not classified by Hyde as an emergency.
- He asked why the call centre could not transmit information accurately, sending repair contractors to wrong addresses.
- He asked why residents in distress in an emergency situation were not kept informed of progress in terms of action in hand or otherwise.
- He asked why residents were patronised and put off and why there was no system at Hyde to ensure someone was taking responsibility for services to residents.
A member of the TA Executive Committee informed residents that, even before this unacceptable situation arose, the TA had requested information about the planned and cyclical maintenance programme with reference to HSH and specifically Kennington Park Estate. No information on this fundamental aspect of a landlord’s responsibilities had been forthcoming. This is the programme of regular repairs and maintenance by which properties are maintained to a good standard and disasters such as flooding and consequent damage and disruption should be prevented.
In response to the report from the resident of Hornby House and the wholly inadequate response received from Hyde, it was unanimously agreed by residents present that Hyde had failed in its duties and responsibilities to residents in terms of:
- Lack of preventative maintenance and lack of implementation of a programme of planned and cyclical maintenance
- A poor, unacceptable response from the centralised call centre
- Very poor service from newly appointed repairs contractors.
It was also agreed that, on behalf of residents of Kennington Park Estate, the TA was authorised to write to Hyde Head Office to register a vote of no confidence in those three specific services for which Hyde is responsible.
Note: The following no confidence resolutions were sent to the Hyde Chief Executive as agreed at the meeting of the TA.
Kennington Park Estate Tenants’ Association wishes to register a vote of no confidence in Hyde’s management of the repair service.
In Hyde’s own words the service should ‘give residents a more efficient, flexible and personal service’. The experience of the residents of Kennington Park Estate is of a poor, badly managed inefficient service.
The experience of the service has been of:
A lack of urgency in response to emergency situations
Operatives attending to emergency call outs either an unacceptably long time after the initial call, (for example, at midnight) or not at all.
Lack of fall back strategy in the event of failure of the lead repair contractor
Lack of appropriately rigorous penalties applied against contractors for poor performance
Lack of planned preventative maintenance
It is Hyde’s responsibility to monitor and manage the contracts and to ensure the contractors appointed to provide the service are competent to provide that service. Residents should not have to suffer a poor, chaotic service while Hyde senior managers flounder about trying to mobilise a new contract efficiently.
Kennington Park Tenants’ Association wishes to see an efficient, professionally delivered service restored within days as opposed to the several weeks senior managers appear to consider acceptable.
Investment in regular planned and preventative maintenance for HSH properties
The Kennington Park Estate Tenants’ Association wishes to register grave concern with reference to poor performance in terms of implementation of a planned and cyclical maintenance programme across the Estate.
Lack of appropriate maintenance has led to a spate of emergency situations as a result of blocked drains. This is just one example of the consequences of lack of investment in proper maintenance. Other examples include rain water drainage systems, door entry systems, cyclical decorations, refuse enclosure/chamber maintenance.
Hyde appears not to be fulfilling its responsibilities as a landlord. In order to account to residents for this poor performance, to demonstrate its commitment to residents and avoid further problems, Hyde is requested to consult residents with the utmost urgency on the planned and cyclical maintenance programme for HSH and ensure such work is undertaken without further delay.
The residents of Kennington Park Estate have no confidence in the Hyde Customer Service Centre/Call Centre.
Residents of Kennington Park Estate have expressed concern about the corporate call centre system since its introduction. The events of the last few weeks have justified that concern. The response from the Call Centre has been poor, unresponsive, inconsistent and unhelpful, particularly in relation to emergency situations reported by residents of Kennington Park Estate. With a very few exceptions, residents find the response from the Call Centre in some cases, patronising and dismissive, in some cases, unable/unwilling to keep residents informed of the action being taken to respond to the problem reported to the Call Centre, in some cases, unable/unwilling to pass on accurate information from residents to other staff and contractors.
Residents of Kennington Park Estate insist action is taken to remedy this unacceptable situation. Senior managers must manage the service offered by the Call Centre to ensure it is truly responsive to residents.
In the event that senior managers are not able to ensure an acceptable standard of service from the Call Centre, the system must be devolved to local level.
Nigel Walker, the HSH Resident Services Manager, informed residents of the mobilisation problems with the new repair contractors. He confirmed there was high level communication with Mears at the most senior level on a day by day basis. Head Office was committed to keeping residents informed of progress and measures taken to improve the situation. Nigel made the point that local staff were working very hard in very difficult circumstances. He also confirmed the drainage pipes were to be jetted before the end of the year.
Cllr Edbrooke expressed great concern on behalf of residents and strongly recommended a severe penalty for contractors who do not perform to the specifications of the contract.
4.2 Other housing and estate management issues reported by residents
Comments were invited on other housing and estate management issues. The Chair identified cleaning as an issue following the inspection of Lockwood House he had recently attended. He made the point that the current unsatisfactory performance of the cleaning and grounds maintenance contractor was not an appropriate basis on which to extend the contract for a further year up to mid 2015, instead of the original date of the expiry of the contract of mid 2014.
Nigel Walker made reference to the recent Housemark benchmarking report on cleaning from which KPE emerged as receiving a satisfactory standard of cleaning. Residents disputed any such findings, however, one resident expressed the view that residents could not expect a high standard of cleaning taking into account the age and intensive use of the buildings. The chair expressed his disagreement with this assessment of the situation. He was firmly of the opinion that residents should expect a good standard of cleaning and the cleaning contractor should be expected to comply with no exceptions. Other inner London estates of a similar age and construction received a good cleaning service and did not consider the age of the building to be a factor excusing poor service. The chair apologised for his heated comments on this issue, however, on behalf of KPE residents, he had taken a very active interest in cleaning and estate inspections and in the performance of the contractor and was well aware the estate was not receiving the standard of cleaning specified in the contract. In response the resident who was a member of the HSH Resident Assurance Committee confirmed she was not there to defend Hyde.
The chair also referred to the contract for care of the raised beds within Kennington Park Estate. This was separate from the main grounds maintenance contract. The chair reported that the raised beds remained neglected and renewal of the contract would not represent value for money and was not in the best interests of residents of Kennington Park Estate.
5. Kennington Park Estate Community Centre: Report on refurbishment
Genevie George, Hyde Plus Neighbourhood Investment Manager gave a briefing on decorative improvements to Kennington Park Estate Community Centre. She introduced Gloria Lawrence, Community Facilities Manager who had been managing the KPE Community Centre since August. Genevie referred to the redecoration of the Community Centre. She confirmed that the training room had been cabled for use as an IT suite. Training and advice was to be available to KPE residents from the beginning of 2014. Other services and activities were also to be offered. Genevie welcomed ideas from residents for activities at the Community Centre. Genevie and Gloria were thanked for attending the meeting and keeping residents up to date with developments at the Centre.
6. Report from TA Executive Committee:
- Review of service charges
It was confirmed the TA continued to engage with the Income Team at Hyde Head Office to scrutinise invoices (the basis of the estimation of service charges for the following year), to challenge errors and anomalies and to seek clarification of costs allocated to service charges. It was more than disappointing to note that similar errors appeared to be repeated and the TA had to draw attention to them again and again. Hyde had been required to apologise for mistakes more than once. As discussed at the last TA meeting, the work undertaken by TA reps had already had the effect of reducing service charges to residents of Kennington Park Estate. The reduction was estimated at 16%.
- Review of the CCTV service and response to formal complaint
It was reported that a formal Hyde complaint panel had responded as follows to the formal complaint from KPETA about apportionment of the service charge for the CCTV service to KPE:
If Hyde were to alter the way it splits costs between estates in Stockwell and Kennington, reducing the proportion allocated to Kennington Park Estate, it would have a corresponding impact on residents in Stockwell. This would require extensive resident consultation. I am advised that because the current method of splitting costs is legitimate, this will not be considered ahead of the findings of the wider CCTV review. It would seem sensible to ensure that the CCTV review addresses the apportionment of costs of the service. However, I am obliged to point out any future changes would not result in backdated reimbursement of charges to when the CCTV was installed.
A review of the CCTV service had been commissioned and was supposed to have commenced however, it was doubtful that the consultants would be allowed to recommend a change in the apportionment of service charges because it could mean charging Stockwell residents a more proportionate figure for the 200 CCTV cameras covering Stockwell monitored at the monitoring centre, (hence KPE residents proportionately less for the 15 KPE cameras monitored.) KPETA would continue to press for a proportionate allocation to the residents of Kennington Park Estate: 7% of the total annual cost as opposed to 25%.
- The cleaning and grounds maintenance contract
It was reported that with no consultation with KPE residents and no consultation with KPETA, Hyde had extended the cleaning and grounds maintenance contract to mid 2015 as opposed to retendering the contract. The contract was originally scheduled to expire in July 2014. It was reported that in response to an enquiry about the extension of the contract the Hyde Regional Director wrote: ‘Based upon feedback from resident satisfaction surveys with the quality of the neighbourhood, estate inspection scores and the house mark benchmarking exercise recently carried out, we are satisfied that the service has performed to the standard required to permit this. Our records of estate inspections continually show our contractor’s performance at good or above. Innovation will be providing an end of year report which will be completed by 31st December 2013, in readiness for the next RAC and Forum meeting.
It was noted that KPETA disputed this interpretation of resident satisfaction and it was confirmed that the TA had persistently over the period of the contract, made it very clear that residents were not satisfied with many aspects of the performance of the contractor.
7. Report from HSH Resident Council and HSH Board
Sonia Reid reported that the RAC had received no details so far with reference to the new repair contract with Mears and the failure of the service experienced by residents as reported to this meeting.
8. Report from Positive Action Group
The PAG had not met since the last meeting of the TA
9. Any other business
10. Date of next meeting of Kennington Park Estate TA: 1900, 19 February 2014
Thereafter 16 April, 9 July, 24 September (AGM), 19 November 2014. (Meeting of Steering Group to organise next meeting, 1830, Monday, 3 February 2014, 1A Lockwood House)