Minutes of the meeting of the Kennington Park Estate Residents’ Association held on Wednesday 24 April 2013 at the Kennington Park Estate Community Centre
Present: 15 residents (tenants and leaseholders) of Kennington Park Estate. M Evers in the chair.
In attendance: Nigel Walker, HSH Resident Services Manager, Beverley Curlew, HSH ASB officer, Jose McKay, HSH Housing Officer,
1. Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Edbrooke, Cllr Brown, Vera Self and Ernest Self
2. Notes of the last meeting of the Tenants’ Association held on 24 April 2013 and matters arising
The notes of the last meeting of the TA were approved as a correct record of that meeting.
On the subject of estate inspections, it was reported that the TA was pushing for them to be conducted outside working hours to enable working residents to attend. From the perspective of residents, it was essential that residents were represented at every estate inspection. It was also confirmed that the TA was still in detailed discussion with senior management about the CCTV service and the disproportionate cost to Kennington Park Estate. Little progress had been made on the part of Hyde/HSH.
3. Kennington Park Flower Garden Project
Donna Pieters, Project Coordinator from the parks department at the Council, gave a briefing on the project to restore the flower garden in KenningtonPark. The objective was to make it relevant to the lives and aspirations of a culturally diverse urban population through learning, participation and conservation. The intention was to hold a programme of events including an annual flower festival. She welcomed participation from residents of Kennington Park Estate. Donna was thanked for attending and for the information about the Flower Garden Project.
4. Nigel Walker: New Resident Services Manager, Hyde Southbank Homes
The Chair introduced Nigel Walker, the new Hyde Southbank Homes Resident Services Manager. Nigel confirmed he came to HSH with 28 years experience in social housing. Nigel presented a written report covering changes to welfare benefits including the introduction of the bedroom tax as from 1 April 2013 and the introduction of universal credit from later in 2013, plus the benefit cap to be phased in from October 2013.
Nigel expressed concern about the impact of these changes on residents, particularly vulnerable residents. He reported that 61 households on Kennington Park Estate were deemed to be under occupying under the new system. He was asked about Hyde’s approach to redesignation of rooms (as something other than bedrooms), the effect of welfare changes on people with disabilities, the application of the bedroom tax to flats already adapted for residents with disabilities and the policy on eviction for rent arrears accumulated as a result of the benefit changes. Nigel agreed to respond in writing to those specific queries. A resident asked if individual flats were correctly identified and registered in terms of the number of bedrooms. Nigel agreed to make enquiries to confirm relevant records were accurate.
The written report from Nigel included reference to an Estate Services Review to be undertaken by consultants Just Housing before the end of July 2013.
Residents discussed the potential new arrangements for parking enforcement, expressing concern with reference to the possible option of enforcement initiated by Housing Officers.
Nigel was asked to introduce estate inspections out of normal office working hours to facilitate attendance by working residents. Residents agreed that evening inspections either in daylight or not, might assist with checking/monitoring of communal lighting. Evidence suggested there was little or no inspection of communal lighting undertaken as residents had to report faults over and over again before communal lights were repaired.
Nigel also tabled a written briefing from the HSH Board meeting of 12 February 2013 covering:
- Resignation of Lisa Young as Chair of HSH Resident Council
- Report on recent mystery shopping exercise at HSH
- Setting of 2013.14 service charges and the reduction in service charges because of resident involvement with the Gateway Project.
- HSH Board approval of £61m credit facility for HSH with Legal and General
- Approval of budget and rent increases for 2013/14
- Briefing on the new Hyde Group Housing Services Board and its terms of reference
- Work in hand to support the HSH Resident Council to emerge from shadow status in early 2013.
At the request of residents, it was agreed to make arrangements for the TA Steering Group to meet with the Resident Services Manager on a regular basis. Nigel was thanked for attending the meeting and for reporting on issues of concern to residents. Residents looked forward to his response to their specific queries.
4.1 Report from Beverley Curlew with reference to 2012/13 ASB statistics at KPE
Beverley Curlew presented a written report and gave a brief presentation on the issues represented in the report. The report prompted a discussion about nuisance caused by domestic pets. Beverley urged residents to report nuisance but could not promise action would be taken as tenancy law required clear incontrovertible evidence.
5. Housing management and estate management issues. (Reports and queries from tenants and leaseholders)
Residents reported concerns as follows:
- The absence of balcony washing remained an issue of significant concern to residents. In some areas the situation was serious.
- In Grace House damaged guttering was causing flooding on the balcony below.
- Also in Grace, blocked drainage was giving rise to bad smells and back surge. Jetting was required.
- Blades House still suffering with mould on internal walls, etc.
- Football games in Sherwin House yard were causing serious damage to the environment. It was recommended a general letter be issued to Sherwin House residents to warn against this anti social behaviour
- There was a general concern about cleaning standards and residents insisted that in the procurement of the new cleaning contract as well as the new contract for grounds maintenance, the KPE TA was properly represented on the Procurement Panel and the Tender Evaluation Panel. Representation on the Procurement Panel in the person of a member of the HSH Resident Council was not acceptable as evidence in terms of procurement of the new repairs services indicated that important information was not conveyed to residents even when specifically requested. Resident of KPE had made a formal request for the appropriate procurement training in order to facilitate membership of Procurement Panels. The response from Hyde was that the training was not available to these residents.
6. Estate Inspections
The previous discussion with Nigel Walker was referred to. A formal request had been made by the TA for Estate Inspections to be scheduled for a time which would allow the attendance of working residents.
HSH staff departed at this point
7. Report from Resident Association Steering Group (including briefing on Community Freshview, progress with scrutinising service charges and review of the CCTV service)
It was reported there was a small amount of funding available from Lambeth Council to improve public areas such as public roads (as opposed to estate roads). Residents were invited to suggest ways in which the public realm outside/around the Estate could be improved.
Joan reported that evidence suggested Hyde was likely to make similar mistakes in charging for communal electricity as had been made the previous year. Residents scrutinising service charges had been extremely concerned to find that the electricity supplier was operating on estimates and that HSH appeared not to have provided the supplier with accurate meter readings. The estimates applied by the supplier were the same for each block, whether a block of nearly 100 flats or a block of 20 flats. It was confirmed that other issues were still being pursued by the TA in relation to the accuracy of service charges.
It was reiterated that HSH had agreed to review the CCTV service in response to pressure from residents in that not all KPE residents are convinced the service is of benefit to residents or offers value for money. Kennington Park Estate has 15 CCTV cameras. Stockwell has over 350. KPE residents find it inappropriate that the charge for the service is apportioned on the basis of the number of households in each area as opposed to the number of cameras monitored by the service. HSH made a commitment to review the CCTV monitoring service and the contract with the external supplier to provide this service. This commitment was made in September last year and little further progress had been made.
8. Report from HSH Resident Council and HSH Board
The written report on HSH board activities issued by Nigel Walker was referred to, specifically the issue of the £60m loan secured on HSH properties. It was reported that the response from Hyde management to an enquiry as to what the £60m was to be used to fund was; Hyde’s objectives for new homes and new services. It appeared that the loan raised on HSH properties was not to be used primarily for the benefit of HSH and it was unlikely HSH residents were to be consulted on the use of the funding.
9. Report from Positive Action Group
It was noted the next PAG meeting was scheduled for 7 May 2013
10. Any other business
No further business was raised.
11. Date of next meeting of Kennington Park Estate Resident Association
The next meeting of the Residents’ Association was scheduled for 1900, 17 July 2013 (organising meeting 1830, Monday 1 July 2013, 1A Lockwood House), thereafter, 25 September (Annual General Meeting), 27 November 2013