Minutes 24.10.2012


Minutes from meeting of 24th October 2012 


list to be confirmed


Sam Lewis (Hackney Homes)
Tom Ebbutt (Councillor)

Action items

  1. Follow up on second TV socket query on Blandford Court (KA)
  2. Communicate that constant change in Hackney Homes representatives at TRA meetings is not acceptable (CJG)
  3. Work together to agree action plan for pram sheds (JCT, CJG)
  4. Invite police community team to next TRA meeting to discuss issues on Blandford (LL)
  5. Ask Mel Cameron to ensure painting doesn’t happen in bad weather/in winter (LL)
  6. Ask Anthony Stenning about options for architectural approach to reduce ASB (LL)
  7. Submit EIB for pram sheds (FB)
  8. Check whether fence repairs can be funded from EIB (FB)

1. Avonline outages

CW raised a concern that there have been a number of outages of whole blocks on the estate, due to issues in the Avonline system. The official route for raising these issues is through the Hackney Homes call centre rather than direct to Avonline, and this is only open during business hours and Saturday mornings. CA was particularly concerned that if there is an outage during Christmas holidays, then there could be a long period where a whole block has no TV.
KA manages the Avonline system for Hackney Homes, and attended this meeting to answer any queries. He personally receives messages about any fault reported. He confirmed that there is no intention to officially provide out-of-hours contact service for individual issues; however, he commented that he does informally receive all messages including at weekends, and where there is an issue affecting a whole block which is reported as such, they would treat it as an emergency repair for immediate action. The Christmas break will only be Monday and Tuesday so there should not be a major problem with being out of contact for extended times over that holiday.
Several residents raised questions about mixed service on Blandford court, where some people had not been able to get a second TV point to work while others had. KA commented that this was probably due to weak TV signal in the area, but committed to follow up on and resolve individual issues raised where he received contact details from residents.

2. Paintwork programme

JD gave a brief explanation of issues with the paintwork programme to date, and read some extracts of Hackney Homes’ response to the stage 3 complaint raised by her on behalf of the TRA, copies of which were also available at the meeting. This response included an apology from Hackney Homes for a number of significant failings in the proposed programme, including lack of a valid contract, inadequate consultation, and poor communication. Hackney Homes is still dealing with the consequences of this complaint.
KB commented that this is by no means the first time that major works have been managed so badly, and in a way that causes significant concern to all residents and causes financial worry to leaseholders, and that Hackney Homes seems to continue to cause these problems without any penalty and without learning from its mistakes. Many present agreed with this. The next step for this complaint would be to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman. JD commented that this would be an appropriate thing to do, but that at this stage she lacked the time and energy to pursue the matter further. She invited those present to let her know if they wished to do so, and also encouraged all residents to use the official observations and complaints procedures wherever appropriate, and also inform the TRA when they do so, to ensure that our collective concerns are taken seriously.
The TRA’s understanding of the current situation with proposed paint works is that the overall programme is on hold as Hackney Homes lacks a valid contract, but that next year there will be a smaller programme of making good peeling paint on upper floors and balustrades. However, this hasn’t yet been formally communicated to all residents by Hackney Homes.
One resident also requested that the TRA check with Hackney Homes that they plan to paint in the summer, as programmes have previously taken place in winter rain with resulting very poor finish quality.

3. Paving proposals

FB briefly explained the current situation with paving proposals. A section 20 notice was issued by Hackney Homes recently saying that they plan to repave the whole estate, at a total cost of roughly £100k, as the paving is currently in poor condition. A number of residents submitted written observations about this matter, and received a detailed response from Mel Cameron at Hackney Homes explaining the need for these repairs and how it would be approached to ensure good quality and good value. Mel Cameron met with LL, JD, and FB to discuss further, and agreed to ensure that he contacted us for further discussion before the programme actually went ahead. The programme is likely to include barriers to prevent vehicles driving onto paved areas and causing damage in future, but this will be subject to discussion with the TRA before anything is finalised.
FB also pointed out that most of the damage to the paving has been caused by Hackney Homes contractors’ vehicles, and therefore we will be contesting the fact that these works will be charged to residents. We’re talking to our Councillors for help in how to challenge this. In the meantime, KB encouraged all residents to document and share with Hackney Homes and the TRA any further incidents of vehicles on the estate paved areas, as this evidence will allow us to make a good case.

4. Pram sheds

At the last meeting, we discussed the fact that there are a number of pram sheds on the estate, in theory used by residents, but that there is no way to officially acquire a shed and Hackney Homes does not know who uses which. It was agreed at the meeting that the TRA would work with Hackney Homes to identify current owners, find empty sheds, and redistribute those unused sheds to residents in a fair way. We were surprised to find that Hackney Homes then put notices on the sheds a few days later requesting that owners call Patricia Agboifo to confirm usage, otherwise sheds would be opened up.
There were a number of problems with this, principally that notices were blu-tacked on so many were lost; the phone number given was not usually answered; and there has been no further action since the notices went up 3 months ago. Abi Marquis has now said that Hackney Homes is unable to provide the TRA with information about vacant sheds as it’s confidential.
JCT pointed out that this progress was unacceptable, given that the TRA had been perfectly willing and able to run the process itself, and asked for a clear timetable and plan to resolve this issue.
CGD agreed to work with JCT separately to agree an action plan, including agreeing wording of notices which would not alarm residents and would give a consistent message.
FB also commented that the conversation with CGD covered a lot of the same information as in the last TRA meeting, and that she was the fourth different ‘estate representative’ who we’d been sent in four consecutive meetings; this results in the TRA’s and residents’ time continually being wasted, as Hackney Homes representatives don’t have the relevant history or responsibility. FB asked CGD to communicate upwards to her management that the TRA considers this to be unacceptable.

5. Security on Blandford

LL explained that due to continuing and severe anti social behaviour on Blandford Court, the TRA asked Hackney Homes to look into the possibility of securing the bottom of the staircases with security doors. They have looked into how to do this, and it is possible, although will have quite a large footprint and will involve ‘boxing in’ one flat at the foot of each staircase. They have sent out consultation letters and are doing an additional walkabout to find out whether residents on Blandford would favour this solution. The response to the consultation so far has been poor – 13 responses from 70 flats – so so far would not give enough mandate to go ahead with any work.
There was extensive discussion of possible alternatives, including security cameras and architectural changes such as better lighting and use of space.
Residents had had a mixed response from calling the police 101 non-emergency number to deal with problems at night, some having a great response and some saying that nothing happened.
We agreed to invite the police to the next TRA meeting to discuss these problems, and to ask Hackney Homes to discuss possible architectural improvements that would discourage ASB.

6. Christmas Party

LL said that we will be organising Christmas Panto tickets and a children’s Christmas Party as usual this year.

7. Estate Improvement Budget

FB asked whether all present were happy for us to use this year’s EIB budget to gain access to pram sheds. This was approved by everyone.
Several people commented that the fences of many properties were very messy and would like to check whether we are allowed to spend EIB on improvements to external fences on people’s gardens.
There were no further EIB suggestions at present.

8. Any other business

Many gardens, principally on Blandford Court but also around the estate, are very poorly kept and both look bad and are causing problems with unpruned trees and plants overrunning public areas.
CJG agreed to do a walkabout to identify problem gardens and notify the owners that Hackney Homes requires them to clear them up.