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ETRA Meeting July 2022

July 13 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

This ‘Enhanced Tenants & Residents Association’ (ETRA) ‘meeting is a chance for residents to speak to Hackney representatives about issues on the estate e.g. cleaning, repairs, antisocial behaviour.

ETRA meetings happen on a quarterly basis in January, April, July & October

 

Kings Crescent ETRA Meeting Minutes

13 July 2022  7:00-8:30pm

‘Enhanced’ Tenants & Residents Association Meeting

Zoom and in person (Hackney Showroom – Murrain Road 4-6)

Minutes

In Attendance

13 Residents including Meeting Chair David B and TRA Chair Emley P

London Borough of Hackney (LBH) Staff members:
Philip Glanville (PG)

Mark Amos

Anthony Ramsay (AR)

Ron Greenwood

Angela Okoh

Cllr Clayeon McKenzie (CM)

Will Owen

John Morris (JM)

Andrea Scott (AS)

Gilbert Stowe (GS)

Cllr Clare Potter

Steve Waddington (SW)

LBH Mayor

Mayor and Cabinet Caseworker

Housing Officer

Project Manager

Senior Energy & Sustainability officer

Ward Councillor

Regeneration Team LBH

Source Partnership

BH Area Housing Manager

LBH Divisional Head of Tenant and Leasehold Services

Ward Councillor Brownswood

Strategic Director of Housing

(Please note there are gaps on the page that I don’t know how to remove so keep scrolling though to point 9!!)

Agenda Item Lead Actions
1 Welcome, Introductions & Apologies
●       Approval of minutes from last ETRA meeting (April 2022)

 

●       approval of the last ETRA minutes (April 2022) – approved by Remi and Jill

●       DB thanked Mayor PG, and other officials, especially Gilbert, Andrea and Anthony for their efforts and involvement in helping us solve issues

●       Introduction by DB stating that “good progress since last meeting. moving in the right direction, especially regarding fire safety, but there is a lot to do regarding the services LBH provides”

●       DB asked attendants to type their names

 

David (TRA Chair)
2 Fire Safety
  ●       DB acknowledged LBH having sent the letter where LBH committed to do any remediation work and to pay for it. Further questions from residents below

●       Update on what has been done from last ETRA

○       Risk assessment / inspections

○       GS confirmed that through a procurement process, a contractor has been selected to carry out the assessment (Orsa fire consultancy, part Orsa project limited. An experienced company with customers such as Aviva and Tesco).

■       They are already working on reviewing some information such as design elements, construction materials and so forth.

■       Next steps are to begin an intrusive survey, in early August. It will take 2-3 weeks to be completed. Residents will receive letters with the steps very soon.

■       any findings from the assessment will be presented to residents as soon as these are made available. GS would not want to commit to an ETA as he doesn’t know much of the process himself, in response to DB’s question whether we should expect results in early September. SW said that it is expected to have the PAS 9980 assessment by mid-September.

■       Since April, residents have received letters from Steve Waddington stating LBH commitment to cover any work that comes out of these findings. GS thinks this is a huge step forward in reassuring residents.

 

○       When will PAS 9980 survey be done?

■       will be included in the survey mentioned above

○       Balcony decks – are these fire-proof?

■       AH – her exit of the flat is over a wooden deck that has been deemed as flammable in the original fire safety assessment. She wants to have it repainted, but she was told that deck was treated with a special material upon construction to avoid being flammable.

■       She asked LBH whether she is restricted to paint her deck, but she has not had any answers so far. It is very work out, and some of her neighbours have already treated/painted it. Her concern is whether the deck would lose any of its anti-flammable properties in case she paints over it. If there is a fire in the building, that is her only exit.

■       GS said that LBH head of safety, Michal Jankowski. AH to send GS an email, and he will pass it to Michal.

■       SW. It is true the decks were treated upon construction which made them have little combustibility and made them meet the building fire regulations at the time. At this point in time, these decks do not meet such regulations and will be considered in the PAS 9980 fire assessment. He advised not to treat/paint them at the moment.

■       AH asked whether those decks that have been painted/treated by residents (after construction) posed any threat. SW does not think it poses any further threat.

 

Resident from Therfield (who was in the Hackney Showroom) had additional questions; some residents have been having BBQs in the balconies, with the subsequent danger it entails. He suggested LBH send notification letters as soon as possible.

●       GS said to consider it done. It is a general rule to not have any BBQs on balconies. AR to deal with it. People should have individual responsibility here, not only LBH.

●       In case residents see anyone doing BBQs, the best way to report is to let LFB know so they can have a conversation with the residents.

 

David LBH – clarification needed re deck painting options

LBH: Letters to be sent our re BBQs on balconies

3 Next phase of the KCE regeneration
  Views of Mayor on the next phase

●       Any timeline about work starting (rumours it has been postponed)?

○       LBH chose a contractor. But they are unable to hold the bidding price considering the current market conditions as opposed to back in December. LBH then went to the other bidders, and saw that across all the tenders there had been a higher cost due to inflation, Ukraine war, etc. LBH is now working with original choice of contractor, who is also working on other different projects (other development site), and are trying to improve the costs. It has proved very difficult to carry out this work, but the long-term project, the commitment, the vision has not changed. At the time they cannot commit to a timeline for when the construction works will begin. At the moment, LBH keep working with that bidder to carry out work across the borough.

●       How confident do LBH feel about delivering a good service considering the failures managing old blocks +3 new blocks?

○       LBH always want to manage blocks in a good way. They must keep working with GS and SW to ensure the estate management is adequate.

○       SW; LB H is committed to improve the service delivered over the last few years, that has not been good enough or as it should be. But there are a lot of things happening behind the scenes that will improve that service; how the service has been delivered, how resources have been deployed, access to repairs, how repairs are reported and delivered.

David
4 Estate management – repairs
   

●       DB acknowledgement and thanked for the step in the right direction when AS and AR met residents in person in the estate at the end of April (after last ETRA). The relationship has improved with LBH officials. Also GS steps right in when he is cc’d in emails, which speaks of his commitment to assist us with the current problems we are facing. However, there are still issues (cultural, systemic) within LBH that do not allow for a smooth service delivery; residents do not feel listened to, do not feel their requests are being taken seriously, and in order to achieve something, it must be done by pushing, chasing and challenging. Not all issues from the southern blocks have been addressed, and these were pointed out when AS and AR came to the estate.

complaints from South blocks

●       Some complaints are still not being addressed.

●       Theobald’s court chute is not working. It took 6 weeks to be cleared by LBH, which is not acceptable. On the second floor, the chute drawer falls out and can damage residents and children.

●       there are issues with flies; can’t leave windows or doors open. it smells. These three issues were raised in an email by Remi (June the 9th), and we only received an email (June 16th) only stating that the chute had been unblocked but ignoring the other issues.

●       New issues are the lights of the balconies that stay on all day and sometimes from very early in the morning,  but they go off when it gets dark in the evenings. This has happened since the pandemic. They have been told that someone would come and repair it. Someone comes, but it stops working again within a few days. It is an ongoing issue that must be looked into deeper. DB suggested to follow up with AR in the email mentioned above. Other residents have followed up by phone but no luck.

●       Jill admitted that the issues with the chute are up and down, and are linked to residents not using it properly (entering items that do not fit and block the chute).

●       issues with the chute in Theobald and Bramfield.

○       GS will wait to receive the email, and will investigate why these issues have not been addressed (chute, the drawer, smells, lights).

○       SW offered to be cc’d in the email as strategic manager for recycling services and admitted that 6 weeks to be un-blocked is not good enough. He asked GS and AR to get the drawer repaired first thing on Friday morning.

Several reports of drains backing up – tried to contact Anthony but no success.

●       could there be a regular drain clearing each 6-12 months to prevent the issue building up?

●       Some residents, particularly senior ones, would like AR to be  introduced to them, as they used to have a personal relationship with Anette Reid.

○       drain issue in Bramfield court, flats above the archway. It had been cleared in March but it has been backed up again recently. and the same happened in Datchworth in the past (every two years). She asked whether the clearouts should happen more regularly, but she doesn’t know what the policy is. Some residents have tried to contact AR by phone as they do not have internet

■       AR acknowledged that the Bramfield drain had been reported in early May and on June 20th, and both were completed. If a senior resident cannot log in the repair (online) they can contact the repairs phone line. AR suggested that they can also raise these issues through Emely and suggested to use the form AR provided by email which he believes would improve the communication between residents and AR. AR has already been in some flats, and he will be updating the service board with his contacts and further meetings.

■       Emley asked whether there will be more surgeries in the future to meet in person with residents.

●       AS responded they are rolling out surgeries throughout the borough, and this will start in the autumn.

●       GS added that there is a request for AS and AR to visit the estate on a weekly basis, to increase presence in the estate. AR contact details will be posted on the board, and will be appearing on the BBQ letter to be sent out. On surgeries, more will occur on a weekly basis, but it will be ruled out in the autumn.

 

●       Any update from new computer systems including reporting a repairs service online?

○       Any alternative for residents without internet/email?

○       AR; it will be in the poster,. it will come with a QR code for those residents who know how to use it. it will have a link to a form that will populate a spreadsheet where the repair will be recorded/logged.

○       DB interrupted and asked whether AR was referring to the google docs previously provided, and questioned whether these work as there is no email acknowledging the submission, or any follow up, or interaction etc. It does not improve anything. AR said that that link was the TRA version, but that the new one will contain more features like application forms, or tenancy terms and conditions, freehold terms and conditions, how to report ASB, etc

○       Jill asked that rubbish bags outside the community centre have not been cleaned since two weeks ago. One day, a cleaner walked by, saw the bags but did not act upon them.  Whose responsibility is it? The community centre to communicate and request bags to be picked up, or up to the cleaners?

○       the community centre is part of the estate and so should have been picked up by the cleaners. AS to have a conversation with colleagues in the community centres team. rubbish should not be ignored by a cleaner; must clean it or report it to another team

●       Anthony – updates

○       Gates to communal areas – making them impossible to climb.

○       bollards on the play street

○       both issues above to be taken offline due to time-constraint.

 

DB stated that there are movements in the right direction, specially by individuals (GS specially, AS, AR), but things are very far from perfect. ie issue in Wallington court this week

David  

 

Anthony to follow up with South block issues

 

JWM to email GS etc outlining issues

5 Estate Management – Escalating issues / heating costs
  ●       In particular, one resident who has escalated an issue regarding heating charges, and it has taken one year with more than 30 chasers

●       Energy prices charged – (ref: 1986845)

●       Issues regarding heating maintenance costs, the choice of communal boiler is not beneficial to residents in terms of cost, services being paid for no value in return

Wael wanted to tackle the issue more broadly; when residents try to rise a complaint/issue to LBH there are four type of answers residents receive:

1.- “it has been passed to Sr management”, which means that it has been lost in bureaucracy. ie, the solar panel [film covering on window next to lift control panel to reflect heat] on the lift in Kimpton suggestion to prevent overheating. It was first discussed in July 2019. residents were told it had been passed to sr management, it is july 2022 and it has not been fixed, and today that it is a hot day, the lift is out or work again.

2.- “if you are not happy, raise a complaint”. one raised in April 2021, and it raised stage 2 in May 2022. and it happened after battling, chasing, and challenging. The issue had been raised through ETRA meetings many times, in front of Will Owen, in front of the Mayor, In front of GS. We always receive reassuring words but nothing ever happens. The way these complaints work is that on state 1, residents receive an answer from the same team we raise the complaint against, without any form of challenge which is a waste of time. And in order to get an answer one has to chase and chase, despite LBH policy is to give an answer within 15 days.

3.- “it is written in the leasehold agreement” especially when residents challenge anything to do regarding service charge. It is normally used when LBH is short of excuses, they hide behind it. ie when Wael challenged the heating costs and maintenance. Instead of having a constructive conversation, the answer is that. It is true, but Wael challenged the schedule on the leasing agreement in November 2021, to GS in last ETRA, and no answer…which leads to the last point

4.- “no answer” and wait for the resident to give up.

Wael has had issues with the new build team, and with the service charge team. Wael addressed the Mayor stating that in the last meeting with PG (February 2022) he reassured us about how the service should be provided, etc. Wael would like PG to justify LBH behaviour, the silence after Wael raised the schedule to the service charge team and GS, the absence of justification on the added value of the communal boiler which have been on for a year, the fact that some residents are so upset with LBH that have stopped paying service charges.

GS responded. He thinks LBH are meeting their obligations, however these could be met on a more timely basis, and improving the answers given. He stated that LBH is moving in the right direction, and acknowledged how unsatisfied Wael has been in the past. LBH is trying to take strides in being more responsive and to deal better with stage 1 and 2 complaints. He apologised and said that Wael is right to be angry and upset, but their commitment to maintain their homes is unequivocal. The issue is about the time and they are working to be improved.

Wael. The solar panel [film] takes 3 years. He gets that there is not a schedule for their obligation set for these types of repairs, but all this time taken for a repetitive issue is not acceptable.  GS admitted it is not reasonable and understands how frustrating it is for residents.

Emley (lives in older southern blocks) added that her lift has been out of work once in 10 years, while lifts in new blocks are out of work all the time. There is something bigger going on with new blocks. and LBH fails to connect the dots, and to tackle this long-term issue. Residents should not have to keep raising these issues. LBH should spot them and tackle them directly, rather than stating that complaint teams should be given a more timely answer.

DB highlighted a short term issue with LBH when it comes to issues; lift in Kimpton, main door in Wallington, boiler when it gets cold (it broke twice last winter) drains in Bramfield, etc. it should not be just a short term repair for the next few months. At the end of the day, the contractors are changing LBH every time they come, that charge is passed to residents. But contractors are not incentivised to do a good job. LBH must step in and get a long-term solution rather than temporary patches. That is the expectation from a modern management company (private or public) from the residents.

PG understands the frustration. He highlighted the relationship between residents and a manager/contractor/agent (private or public) and a landlord all completely correct. Is it a construction fault or something that has to be repaired? In the case of the lifts, he was briefed that it is a construction error therefore, a contractor cannot solve those issues permanently, they can only temporarily get them up working but it will reoccur unless LBH deals directly with Higgins for a structural solution. This is a more strategic issue, not down to better reporting or to the call centre. In regard to the service charge, PG understands there is a meeting coming (next week). The meeting that was initially due to take place never happened as very short notice was given to residents.

DB said that if it is a construction issue, it is beside the point. If Higgins handed the building to LBH with failures, it is LBH responsibility to tackle those, not residents. When residents raise those issues, it should not be our problem whether these are strategic or not. It should be up to LBH staff to figure this out. Residents do not feel we get value for money, we are doing the job of raising these issues regardless of the nature of those.

Wael understand some structural/strategic issues might take for longer, but another issue is the quality and the honesty of the repair; lift, new build states that it has been repaired when residents keep sending proof it has not. The same with the Kimpton main door. There are also issues with the repairs jobs that are not being supervised by LBH who only take the contractor’s word for it. In terms of the lift, Wael has challenged for two years that the alarm is not working (nobody at the other end) where we must call LFB, is a breach of the schedule and affects the resident’s security.

Note in chat: Mayor Philip Glanville: Totally agree with that assessment Wael on resident vs contractor voice and this must be fixed.

Wael on the point of the energy cost, which is split in 3; 1 is a standing charge, 2 is unit price and LBH price charging residents is in the average any other provider would charge. No issue there. The issue is the maintenance of the communal boiler which is a cost to residents without any visible benefits to us. He has been challenging the benefit for the resident and could not get to the bottom of it. And when the boiler breaks, the maintenance team needs at least 20 complaints to look into it. What is the benefit of the communal boiler? PG said that policies around energy are normally dictated by the London plan and planning policy. Communal boiler was decided when the blocks were initially constructed as the most efficient way for residents, the environment and the borough. Communal boilers are almost the default in planning policy. The scheme had to be bound to those policies. Wael asked about the benefit for residents. PG said it is more efficient, it is easier to repair (he also said that the extent to which it can be repaired and the requisites for it, that is where LBH can improve the service). Wael said that we pay for our individual boilers as well as for the communal one. PG said there is not another legal way to build it without a communal system. Wael accepted it is a legal matter, but was surprised that after over a year raising complaints nobody has ever mentioned that to him.

Wael to follow up with service charge teams about whether this is the most efficient way. Now that the answer about why a communal boiler has been given. Wael highlighted that in order to get LBH answers we must fight for everything.

Note in chat: Mayor Philip Glanville: I will provide the rationale in writing coming out of this meeting

CM added that the delivery of the services should not take for that long, and that this is a conversation to be taken internally to solve this. Issues must be tackled when they arise. A commitment and apology and an acknowledgement of it having to be improved were given.

KM said that one of the challenges the residents face is that everything is received as a single issue. But if you think about all the teams involved in the answers, etc how do we get to the strategic answers when everything is presented as a single issue. It is only when the Mayor is here with his understanding of the bigger picture can provide long term answers. The challenge is about how different individuals and different departments can work together and to provide a single answer to a single issue that requires inputs from different teams and a more cohesive but complex answer (i.e. the communal boiler). Someone in LBH has to do the thinking and not just bat it back to residents.

SW thinks that LBH as a service must put it together and respond to it as if it was a single issue (how it is raised by residents).

PG hopes that GS, SW, and can provide a sense of broader commitment from LBH in PG’s absence (he cannot be in every meeting). These individuals can provide high-level views on broader and strategic issues. LBH should be able to provide that strategic view in meetings or surgeries like this ETRA.

DB stated that there is no question on LBH officials present in the meeting about their desire and willingness to resolve issues, but there are cultural or traditional elements within the departments with which residents have to deal closely, that do not allow an efficient resolution. It is frustrating for residents who pay their monthly fee, and who are only asking for a functioning boiler, lift or main door to experience LBH failing in resolving those in an efficient manner. And most of the time it is after chasing, pushing and challenging.

Reminder that there is a Service Charges meeting next week, on July the 20th at 6pm. AH has been organising the meeting, and Phil McKee will chair it.

Wael  

 

Mayor to provide rationale in writing

 

6 TRA
  ●       TRA treasurer has chased Oliur seven times over the past four months for the grant money to cover our insurance.

●       AH confirmed it has been resolved, but it took 6 months for the money to be sent to the TRA. We could only absorb that delay because the TRA had the cash to do so, but TRA had to chase for 6 months. It will hopefully not happen again.

 

David
7 Source Partnership
  Update from John

●       nothing to add except that they are administering the steering group next Thursday July 21st). They are looking into resolving some issues that have already been discussed in this ETRA (phases 3 and 4 of new developments).

Bianca Canberg, who is a student doing research on the estate, wanted to be introduced by JM, but she had already left the meeting.

John Morris
8 Any other business

●       Resident raised the issue of people smoking cannabis in the estate. Issue should be flagged alongside the prohibition of doing BBQs on balconies. The recycling bins by the car park do not shut properly since construction. There is always rubbish outside where the rubbish chute is. It does not look clean around the area. These issues had been raised 18 months-2 years ago. He was promised that signs would be put out. Also the house next door has a huge bag of sand which has been sitting there for 2 years. Also people get there to do drugs and has requested to have gates to prevent people from entering the premises.

●       he also requested to have better communication with AR (since the estate management has changed). He was disappointed that nobody had notified him about the change in management.

●       AR provided contacts of the neighbour contact centre neighbourhood@hackney.gov.uk  02083563330 and can contact AR directly anthony.ramsay@hackney.gov.uk

●       AS firstly apologised and communicated that LBH had been in constant contact with the TRA, they have been visiting the estate once a week, but she acknowledged that there have been no posters advertising the change, which should be in the estate within a couple of weeks.

●       Wael wanted to mention that the Service charge meeting that is taking place next week was promised by Dona Bryce and Judith Morrison over a year ago. He flagged to PG and GS that LBH should have serious considerations about their senior management. Wael expressed his lack of trust in LBH.

●       PG asked if that meeting that he guaranteed after February never took place?  The notification about the meeting that was supposed to take place a few weeks ago was sent with short notice to residents and the meeting never took place. GS and PG only learnt about it now.  DB also flagged the need to let residents know with enough notice about these meetings because residents are already very disengaged with LBH; people are busy, and people pay their fee so they do not feel obliged to have to get involved to improve that service, and DB understand other residents’ standpoint.

 

●       Before the meeting ended, it was announced that GS is retiring which was a huge surprise and huge disappointment to some of the residents that have been working closely with GS lately. He will leave in 2 months, and a replacement will be put in place.

●       the next ETRA date (October) was discussed. It is important to have senior staff, and SW will be attending. SW offered himself to be cc’d and mediate if any issues arise in the future that are not being resolved.

●       DB closed the meeting saying that there is a feeling amongst residents that the relationship has improved but it is not enough. There is a will from LBH, but residents need that will not be materialised in facts.

David LBH: Letters to be sent our re BBQs and smoking
   
9 Dates of next meetings/activities

–        Gardening gathering on 16th July at 10:30am

–        service charges meeting on 20th July at 6pm (in Hackney Showroom)

–        Resident steering group – 21st July at 7pm (in Hackney Showroom)

–        Annual General meeting at next Community Meeting on 14th sept 7pm

–        Next ETRA – 19th October, SW will attend and PG has put in his diary in case he is still needed.

David

Previous Information:

If you have something to add to the agenda please email it to KingsCrescentN4@gmail.com before 4th July 2022 as the agenda will be published 1 week in advance.

Kings Crescent ETRA Meeting Agenda 

13 July 2022  7:00-8:30pm

‘Enhanced’ Tenants & Residents Association Meeting

Zoom link will be provided – please email KingsCrescentN4@gmail.com

(A committee member will be present in the Hackney Showroom space with Zoom access for anyone not able to join online meetings)

 

Agenda Item Suggested

Timing

Lead
1 Welcome, Introductions & Apologies 5 mins
●       Approval of minutes from last ETRA meeting (April 2022) David (TRA Chair)
2 Fire Safety 20 mins
  ●       Update on what has been done from last ETRA

○       Risk assessment / inspections

○       When will PAS 9980 survey be done?

○       Balcony decks – are these fire-proof?

David
3 Next phase of the KCE regeneration 10 mins
  ●       views of Mayor on the next phase

○       Any timeline about work starting?

○       How confident do LBH feel about delivering a good service considering the failures managing old blocks +3 new blocks?

David
4 Estate management – repairs 15 min
  ●       complaints from South blocks

○       some complaints are still not being addressed

○       Several reports of drains backing up – tried to contact Anthony but no success

■       could there be a regular drain clearing each 6-12 months to prevent the issue building up?

●       Any update from new computer systems including reporting a repairs service online?

○       Any alternative for residents without internet/email?

●       Anthony – updates

○       Gates to communal areas – making them impossible to climb.

○       bollards on the play street

David
5 Estate Management – Escalating issues 10 min
  ●       In particular, one resident who has escalated an issue regarding heating charges, and it has taken one year with more than 30 chasers Wael
6 Estate Management – Heating costs 10 min
  ●       Energy prices charged – (ref: 1986845)

●       Issues regarding heating maintenance costs, the choice of communal boiler is not beneficial to residents in terms of cost, services being paid for no value in return

Wael
7 TRA 5 min
  ●       TRA treasurer has chased Oliur seven times over the past four months for the grant money to cover our insurance.

 

David
8 Source Partnership 10 mins
  ●       Update from John John
9 Any other business 2.5 mins David
   
10 Dates of next meetings/activities

 

2.5 mins David
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Details

Date:
July 13
Time:
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Category:

Organiser

KC TRA Committee
Phone:
07926568497
Email:
kingscrescentn4@gmail.com
Website:
https://kingscrescent.org/

Venue

Hackney Showroom Space
4 Murrain Road
London, N4 2BN United Kingdom
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