Pathmeads Housing Association T. A.

a.k.a.

WHHA Tenants' Association

a.k.a

Genesis Housing Association

 

 

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Nobody from Genesis has ever denied any fact on this site.

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Visitors start here

 

Will the election bring an investigation into waste?

Over £100,000 per day? Interest payments from our rent money - Enquiry sought.

 Genesis told: Give the sea scouts a break, not a "Notice to Quit".

More resignations: Is Genesis in meltdown? 

  Toxic assets: They've been at it too. £200m feared lost A March 2008 shows £220m being written down to around £20m. They refuse to give an up to date account. TSA unhelpful  

Genesis blasted for profiteering from selling homes bought from church

Callous attitude of PCHA over tenant needing emergency re-housing

Reply to "Blistering attack": "Learn from previous mistakes or risk repetion". I.H.

"Insolvency not a new situation for the sector" + Blistering attack from ex-Genesis executive

Genesis & partner sell more homes at auction

  A sector in trouble? CNJ. April 24th

Bad maintenance set to lead to more compensation for tenants 

The new Housing Bill - We say: New regulators must be NEW.

 

2008

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2007

 

Tenants to claim compensation. Wood & Vale, Dec 21

  Abused tenants told: "Claim your compensation now"

"We need more housing - and from the right source". CNJ. Nov 1st. 

The boss gets 47% pay rise over 2 years: now at £210,000  ....more results

The Pathmeads "Annual General Meeting"- in secret, as usual

 Fed warns Camden: RSLs could be beginning of your problems. CNJ. Aug 23rd.

"Plug complaint is just a drop in ocean". W & V. Aug 3rd, 2007 

A "Tenants charter". Letters to the Editor, CNJ. 26 July 2007

  That survey: PCHA & Peabody rapped for learning nothing. Letters, WEE.

 Camden tenants warned: "We cannot wait for Brown's pot of gold". CNJ. 17/5/07

BMG Research survey: Now they are telephoning tenants

 

2007

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2006

 

Council tenants get a severe warning from the Fed. DNJ. Dec 21 

BMG Research survey: entirely voluntary 

"We don't want tower monsters". Letters, K.T. 

The Annual General Meeting

"The public has its eye on social landlords' actions". I.H.

Housing association 'needs more scrutiny' 

  Re-telling the story of Genesis. March 30

Complaints Manager goes.... Rent Recovery Manager goes... 

 "Labour would do well to listen to their tenants". CNJ

 

2006

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2005

 

Income support/Housing Benefit computers crash 

"New ombudsman will have much work to do". I.H. 

  "Tenants had a right to say No to Almo". C.N.J.

"Towers blocked by people power"

"More problems will prevail if tower block plan goes ahead" 

"Row prompts halt to social housing sale". Wood&Vale

 PCHA sells off social housing at auction. CNJ

"Housing plan could be shabby". Letters to the Editor. CNJ. 25/9/05.

Annual General Meeting. September 13th

Letters: "More problems will prevail if tower block plan goes ahead" 

"Independent Federation" welcomes all WHHA/Pathmeads tenants

Move to PCHA: Out of 550, 8 vote "Yes". Move confirmed

Housing Today. "We need an efficiency czar". 22-4-5 

CNJ: Letters to the Editor. "Most housing cash is wasted". 3/2/5.

Special meeting for permanent tenants: Thurs Feb 17th, at Wembley

 

 

2005

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2004

 

Dapo Ladimeji, board chair, surrenders right to sack chief executive. 

"Devonshires the Lawyers wishes us a "Happy Holiday"

Update on evicted nurses' homes: now in use ... three years on. 

The Annual General Meeting. Sept 19th.

Hopes shattered ... "Crash of Genesis disappoints" ...yeah?... life goes on.

The Guardian: Letters. Keith Hill, Peter Rutherford: "Facing facts on the home front". 7/7/04.

Very "off-topic" but remarkable: Saturn's rings snapped by Cassini 

H.T. Letters: "Rouse should bare his teeth more". 25th June. 

'Vulnerable' woman faces eviction threat. C.N.J. 17/6/04.

Letters. Inside Housing. "Corporation should flex its muscles". 4/6/04 

PCHA: the boss goes - company secretary gone - PR chief gone

 CNJ: Letters to the Editor. 11/3/04

Ombudsman: New name and logo now registered. Mar 5th

Ombudsman: Name changed!! : "IHOS" becomes "HOS".

Ombudsman: Property People: Mr. Runco's denial. 5 Feb.

Ombudsman: Property People Letter to the Editor. 29 Jan 

 Housing Today. Letters to the Editor. 30-1-04

Ham&High: "Tenants' co-operative in homes takeover bid"

 

2004

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2003

 

Camden to sell homes to shortlifers' co-op, CRISH

Letters to the Editor: Property People. 5/12/03 

 Camden New Journal. Letters to the Editor. 30/10/03

Ham & High: "Why have our homes not been improved?"

The Annual General Meeting: in secret, of course.

Camden council discuss C.R.I.S.H.'s homes. or .doc file

Letters to the Editor, Property People. 11/9/03 

Inside Housing: Letters to the Editor. 5th Sept. 

Letters to the Editor: "Like pigs fighting over a trough". C.T. 30/7/03.

Camden Times: Front page. "Thrown out on to the streets. 16/7/03 

"Hepatitis C victim set to be evicted". H&H. 11/7/03 

Letter to the Editor: Camden New Journal. 26/6/03. 

Letter to the Editor: Inside Housing. 20/6/03.  

Ombudsman blasts PCHA. (Housing Today). 

Complaints Procedure for permanent tenants trashed again. May 26th 2003  

 Letters to the Editor, C.N.J. May 15th.

"CDS wins Camden transfer in landslide residents vote". I.H. May 9.

"'Forgotten' short-lifers vote for the co-operative option" - P.P. - text

 'Churches damned in landslide vote

Letters to the Editor: Property People

Burglar sues householder for £35,000 ?

Schadenfreude Dept.: The Corporation's crisis: update. 

Housing Corporation takes on the M.O.D. busters 

Camden New Journal. Letters to the Editor. 23/1/03 

Comment on the Inside Housing article, Dec 12th. 

 

2003

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2002

 

Inside Housing: "Genesis learns takeover lessons". Dec 12.

 WHHA's name has changed ... but written confirmation is withheld

 Ham & High: "£5m repairs offer housing life line". 6/12/02

Camden New Journal: "Listed block faces sale". 5/12/02

Camden's Executive Committee: the results. Dec 4th 

Dec 4th: Council discuss Shortlife: a decision  or (The .doc file)

Inside Housing: "Crisis blamed on benefits 'debacle' ". 22/11/02 

Ham & High: "Housing association drops name but not debt". 18/10/02. (Late report) 

 Property People: "Questions go unanswered at WHHA meeting". 3/10/02.

Inside Housing: "West Hampstead treads a new path". 4/10/02.

WHHA's Annual General Meeting. In secret again. 29/9/02

Inside Housing: "West Hampstead accumulates £11.5m deficit". 27/9/02

Housing Today: "West Hampstead HA back in profit 'in near future' "26/9/02

Property People: "Accounts reveal HA's £11m hole". 26/9/02

 Property People: Letters to the Editor. 19/9/02

Inside Housing: Letters to the Editor. 30/8/02 

PCHA's "Tenant Profile Form": entirely voluntary. 

Inside Housing: West Hampsteads sell off: Councils' 'compensation'.16/8/02 

Kilburn Times: "Family's fury after repairs delay". 14/8/02 

The first "Great Joke of the Third Millenium" 

Camden New Journal. "Plea to Town Hall: save out homes from sell-off"

Camden at the crossroads: they vote to turn Left and Right 

Letters to the Editor, Property People.

 Adrian Bell, chair of Genesis: Crisis? What crisis? (+ Postscript)

Homelessness Act 2002. (Relevance to us not known) 

Our South London friends sharpen their spears. 

 Inside Housing: "Impact of West Hampstead reports assessed". 21/7/02

Radio 4. "Any Answers". Dimbleby set right on housing solutions. 

Housing Today. Letters. "Name change misses the point". 30/5/02 

C.N.J. "New Journal camera saves Iranian refugee from eviction". 23/5/02

C.N.J. article: Comment

Housing Today: "New name for troubled RSL". 23/05/02 

Camden New Journal's Election results (Camden)

Housing Today: "Knock-on effects". 2/05/02

Inside Housing. "Corporation resists pressure". 26/04/02

 C.N.J. "Angels caught in housing meltdown". 25/04/02

Inside Housing: "Rules put staff in indefensible position". 19/04/02  

Letters to the Editor, Housing Today. "The buck stops here" 18/04/02

Housing Today: "Corporation's role outrages Camden". 18/04/02

Inside Housing: "Report on W.H. made public" + "Open up for business". 12 Apr.

Housing Today: "Camden and corporation in W. H. face off". 11/04/02. 

Property People: "WHHA cloak of secrecy hid financial collapse". 11/3/2

Camden's Scrutiny Panel: The Report 

 Camden New Journal: Articles and letters. 7/3/02 & 14/3/02

 Inside Housing: "Catastrophic deficits revealed by new accounts". 1/3/02

Time Out: "Rats and racism ... " and Genesis. 20/02/02 

The Annual General Meeting: Outflanked by dirty tricks 

In secret: WHHA's Annual General Meeting - this Thurs - 21st Feb - 6.30pm.

Ham & High: "Housing group's base to be sold to pay bills". 15 Feb"

C. N. J. 14 Feb. "WHHA dirty tricks?"

 Camden's Scrutiny Panel: Genesis in the chair.

Property People. Letters to the Editor. 7/02/02. 

 Housing Today: Camden probes West Hampstead. 31/1/02.

Property People: "RSL to sell off assets to clear debt millions". 31/01/02

Kilburn Times. Major front page story by Teresa Keane. Info soon. 

Update: Scrutiny Panel interviews the Housing Corporation. 

Housing Today: Letters to the Editor. 24 Jan.

C. N. J. 24th Jan. "Town hall blamed for WHHA collapse"

 Camden's Scrutiny Panel interviews tenants.

Kilburn Times: 16th Jan. "House is left awash". 

Inside Housing: Letters to the Editor. 5th Jan 2002

 

2002

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2001

 

 Newsletter: "We are on the move". Dec 2001

Kilburn Times. 6/12/01. "Housing scandal kills trust" 

PCHA suppresses the Rule Book.

 Inside Housing - Housing Today. "Camden investigates"

Housing Today. 22/11/01. Letters to the Editor. 

Housing Today. 15/11/01. "Shortlife prolonged for West Hampstead". 

Kilburn Times. 1st Nov. "I waited twenty years". Page 8. 

Ham & High. 2nd Nov. Letters to the Editor. Page 24.

Property People: Letters to the Editor. 25th Oct.

Kilburn Times. "Tenants face crunch". p.5. 25th Oct. 

Inside Housing: "Catastrophe threatens Corporation's authority".

Ham & High. 18th Oct "Tenants at risk after association shows £8m debt".

Kilburn Times. 18th Oct. Front page story.

Camden New Journal. 18th Oct. "Special report ... ".

Camden New Journal. 18th Oct. Letters to the Editor.

Evening Standard. Tues 16th Oct. "Councils bail out housing group hit by £8m debt"

Camden to set up a "Scrutiny Panel" on Housing Associations.

"Secret report hides £8m debt". Camden New Journal. 11th Oct.

 Tenants' Deputation to Camden Council. 10th October.

Property People: Letters to the Editor. 20th September 

"Who will rid us of these accurs'd fools"

Property People: Letters to the Editor. 16th August 

Camden New Journal. "Rude awakening on the way".

PCHA's 68 year widow is out 

Housing Today. Letters to the Editor. "Churches schism". 26 Jul.

PCHA's Annual General Meeting.

 CNJ. 19th July. "Penniless widow faces life on streets". 

Evicting a 68 year old: PCHA's justification.

Housing Today: Full report. "Shortlife fears at West Hampstead"

PCHA to evict 68 year old widow onto the street. 

Letters to the Editor: Property People. 28th June.

S.G.M: Tenants defeated by strangers 25th June.

PCHA: Its official - Every promise broken.

Shareholders misled by Chair's letter.

 WHHA's future: shareholders decide - 25th June. 

Tom Maybank. R. I. P.

Meeting No. 3. - Temporary. You need the tools to do the job.

Meeting No. 2. - Permanent. So many complaints: therefore, ignore them.

Meeting No. 1. - Shortlife. Is anyone in charge?

Housing Officer comes and another goes 

BBC Radio 4 - "Any Answers". Sat. 12th. May - T. A. speaks out

Corporate syphilis?

Rather too late: WHHA decides to set meetings for tenants

 ITV slams WHHA for its dangerous gas policy

Shareholders' Meeting. - Mostly hot air.

Meeting - this Tuesday - Shareholders only - All others are out.

"Sauce for the goose". HT. 19th Apr. Letters to the Editor.

Who is in charge?

Camden ban us ... ! 

Tenants: New Rent Form ... Wait ... 

They're on TV again ... Coming soon!

PCHA's Anu Vedi backs (or drives on?) WHHA's double dealing. 

Evening Standard blasts WHHA's gas policy.

Tenants denied D8 rights: and now "Partnership Bulletins".

Operations Director and Development Director to go.

"Genesis is made West Hampstead agent". H.T. 1st Mar.

"Genesis revelation to association tenants". P.P. 22 Feb.

 Property People: Letter to the Editor.

The Meeting: Successful encounter. 15 Feb 2001

Its done! We join the Genesis Group (maybe).

Meeting fixed - Gun jumped. 8 Feb.

A.G.M. Scandal : Promise of new meeting - Update. 7 Feb.

"Housing chiefs evicted from office". Camden New Journal. 1 Feb.

A.G.M : Uproar as discussion of accounts is vetoed. 31 Jan.

Suspended directors: the results. 27 Jan.

T.A. elections. 27 Jan.

Suspended directors' hearings held.

"Genesis deal could save association". H.T. 5th Jan. 2001

 

2001

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2000

 

Merger: Its Paddington Churches... (probably). 19 Dec 2000

T.A. Elections. We need to be ready to negotiate.

Our meeting with new Special Manager, Mr. Greg Lomax. Mon 18th Dec.

"Suspensions at West Hampstead as quango supports overdraft"IH 15 Dec

"Association's debt backed by quango". Property People. 14 Dec.

"Housing chief in cash quiz mystery". C.N.J. 14 Dec.

"Agency's £3m stops HA from going bust". H.T. 14 Dec.

Eleanor Lohr, Consultant leaves. 12 Dec.

Chief Executive suspended. 8 Dec.

Finance Director suspended. 6 Dec.

Merger talks in the air. December 2000

Supervised HA looks to rescue. H.T. Nov 23

"West Hampstead under supervision". I.H. 22 Nov. 2000

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  Pathmeads Housing Association T. A. aka :

WHHA Tenants' Association (in exile)

This web site is primarily for the shortlife tenants of West Hampstead Housing Association, but we are hopeful other short-life people will find it useful. The law is changing, and it is vital to keep up to date.
Pre-Jan 1989 shortlifers have acquired secure status, and they can ask the Housing Corporation for the Secure Tenants Charter. We ask for recognition, and building work recognising environmental and green ideas.

Permanent Tenants: Special Area

Temporary Leasing Tenants: Special Area
Stop Press | Recent_news | Articles | Events | Legal_Issues | The LSD of S.L. | Background | Tenants_ask... | Can_you_help? | Who_to_write to | Complaints | Procedures | Special_offers | Boiling hot or freezing_cold? | Green_issues | Useful_links | Pathmeads/WHHA Board | PCHA board | Genesis board | A.G.M. notes | Section D8 | Email_us | MPs and councillors | Telephone nos | gerrymandering | Printing | Visitors start here |

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Recent news.

 

 

 

Move to PCHA: Out of 550, 8 vote "Yes". Move confirmed.

 

The consultation exercise performed by Tom McGregor, Chief Executive of Pathmeads (WHHA) a while back involved a vote on whether permanent tenants should move to PCHA. After an allegedly one sided presentation, biased to suggest benefits to tenants a show of hands could only muster eight votes for the change. The Chief Executive of PCHA was in attendance. Pam Lockley was amazed by the hostility to her firm. She has only been in her job a short while; she has a lot to learn.

The Housing Corporation's rules require this consultation.

Following this meeting, it was decided to carry out the transfer, and this has happened. Since it is clear form the voting figures that Mr. McGregor had no intention of taking the slightest notice of the results of the consultation, it must be wondered what the point of it was, apart from satisfying the Housing Corporation's seemingly pointless rules.

 

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Dapo Ladimeji, board chair, surrenders right to sack chief executive.

At the Special General Meeting of shareholders held on November 23rd, the chair of our management board, Dapo Ladimeji, presented a long list of amendments to our constitutional rules. The Housing Corporation require, under Sect G4 of their rules, that tenants are consulted about changes which affect their tenancies.

Yet again, this is not been done.

Some changes are obscure; some are weird. Amongst the latter was a motion that the management board can no longer sack the chief executive. Mr. Ladimeji was asked why he was asking for this particular change to the rules. He was unable or unwilling to reply.

This meeting begs closer scrutiny. Work is being done on it.

If you wish, you may ring the company secretary, Ms. Siobhan Coveney, on the new PCHA phone number: 020-8150 4100 and ask for a copy of the old rules along with a copy of the new ones to compare them yourself.

PCHA (please note: not Pathmeads/WHHA) appear to have done a moonlight. Their new address is:

Capital House,

25 Chapel St .,

London NW1 5DT.

Here is a map . It is off the Edgware Road near the Marylebone Flyover.)

Watch this space. 

 

 

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Devonshires the Lawyers wish us a "Happy Holiday".

 

Remember Devonshires? They are the law firm who took us all to court. This is despite the fact that they are alleged to have told WHHA in the early nineties that traditional shortlifers had proper tenancy status. They have taken out a full page rear cover advertisement in "Housing Today" wishing everyone a "Happy Holiday".

The ad's colour scheme is dark grey on light grey. Well done Devonshires, you can't get more Christmassy than that.

This will probably offend all Christians because Devonshires have lacked the grace to acknowledge arguably their most important festival of the year. It will offend all the other faiths because Devonshires failed to acknowledge theirs at all.

And who has paid the £2,500 bill? You can bet your bottom dollar that it has come indirectly from our rent money.

 

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Update on evicted nurses' homes: now in use ... three years on.

Two key workers, nurses, were evicted in November 2001. This was reported in the Camden New Journal the following April as part of an initiative. It is believed that the NHS in this borough has lost the use of both nurses. The purpose of the eviction was said to be to hand the house back to the Homeless Persons Unit of Camden Council. It is well known that the HPU does not have the funds to do repair and refurbishment work. They need "oven-ready" properties with little or no money to be spent on them.

The building was, in due course, squatted. These people were evicted and the building was then left empty for a very long time. The house has now been put right, and new tenants, probably Camden tenants, have just moved in.

Cost to WHHA/Pathmeads/PCHA: £26,000 in lost rent.

Cost to NHS: the difference between the salaries of agency nurses and staff ( x2 x3 ).

 

 

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PCHA: the boss goes - company secretary gone - PR chief gone.

 

Three senior members of staff have left, and in an extraordinary recent chain of events, PCHA has, in addition, lost its PR chief, company secretary and now chief executive.

First to go was the Group Director of Technical Services, Sonny Karanjia, a while back, and then the Group Director of Finance, Dominic Gibb. He was followed by the Deputy Director of Development, Tony Hall. Then came the Company Secretary, Sandra Raine, who left recently without any explanation or announcement. Rob Davies, Head of Marketing and boss of the Press Office has gone, and just before the weekend, rumours were circulating that Alan Beatty, Chief Executive, was no longer in post. This has been confirmed.

The reason given for Mr. Beatty's departure is that there has been a governance review in 2003 and job restructuring. We are told that now, in the Genesis Housing Group, each subsidiary company will have its own chief executive.

But this has always been the case. What's new?

Apparently the chief executive will now combine board level as well as executive responsibilities. Alan Beatty, apparently, declined to continue; he didn't feel that he wanted the "new" post. He has accepted voluntary redundancy.

We are asked to believe that Alan Beatty was offered a place on the board, didn't want it, and threw in the job.

The only real difference is that the post of head honcho of PCHA will be called managing director rather than chief executive or whatever else it was that he was called.

The new M.D. is Ms. Orla Gallagher, although she has also been described as deputy M.D. The new company secretary is Siobhan Covenay and the PR chief is Ms. Jules Hiller.

PCHA's press office: 020-8537 4103.

 

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"Thrown out on to the streets". Camden Times. 16th July 2003.

By Lorraine King.

In a major article occupying the whole of the front page, Lorraine King describes the story of one of our tenants who was an original pre '89 licencee, and hence a secure tenant, suffering from Hepatitis C, who is to be evicted onto the streets on or after August 15th. He was a joint tenant on a long term "licencee/secure" tenancy. The other joint tenant signed off their tenancy in his absence effectively leaving him a squatter in his own home.

Joint tenants: Beware. (although not all joint tenancies can be abused in this way) .

The piece has a number of errors, one of which is the figure of £67,000 quoted as a Right to Buy discount. This is NOT the case. RTB does not come into all this. The figure is a discount which has, in the past, been offered by Camden to the Housing Association when they buy council property as additional discount payable per tenant if they can get shot of us, thereby freeing up space for nominations from their waiting list. This is a measure of WHHA's gratitude to us for living in property that was discarded as unfit in the late seventies and was rented to us at about a third more than Camden charge their own tenants for fully rehabilitated homes.

Full text of the article

 

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Complaints Procedure for permanent tenants trashed again. May 26th 2003

PCHA have replaced the Complaints Procedure used by WHHA/Pathmeads permanent tenants. The new system is as follows:

1. Write to the Project Manager, Ms. Boe Williams Obasi, detailing the problem. Her address is Chancel House, Neasden Lane, NW10 2AY. She must give you a receipt within four working days and an answer within 28 days. If you are not entirely happy, then WITHIN FOUR WEEKS (probably not legally enforceable) ask for the next stage:

2. Appeals Panel. This consists of three people (who are all beholden to PCHA), namely a senior member of the management team, a board member and an independent executive director. If not happy with their pontifications, apply to:

3. Independent Housing Ombudsman, 105 The Strand, London WC2R OAA. You can get details posted to you by ringing 020-7836 3630.

  

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CDS wins Camden transfer in landslide residents' vote. Inside Housing. 9/5.

'Forgotten' short-lifers vote for the co-operative option. Property People. 8/5.

These two articles from Inside Housing and Property People amplify the article below on the overwhelming vote by the WHHA's Camden Residents in Shortlife Housing (CRISH) in favour of the CDS plan to develop the L. B. Camden houses in which they live.

Property People: full text of report

A CRISH statement said that PCHA made no effort until the very last moment to consult with residents or even show the slightest interest in their concerns.

A PCHA statement said that tenant and residents consultation was at the heart of its ethos.

 

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'Churches damned in landslide vote.

Paddington Churches Housing Association were pitchforked into an inferno of their own making (allegedly) by a 98% vote to reject their involvement in the proposed development of about two dozen buildings currently owned by the London Borough of Camden.

At the suggestion of the then Deputy Leader of Camden, Councillor John Dickie, and with the help of CDS, WHHA shortlife tenants have formed a housing cooperative called C.R.I.S.H., Camden Residents In Shortlife Housing. The intention is to attract the necessary outside funding, and to create proper housing for themselves as well as housing gain for Camden by acquiring the buildings and by putting them into satisfactory order working in cooperation with the tenants and using environmentally intelligent methods.

This contrasts with the Genesis/PCHA/Pathmeads/WHHA system which has involved simultaneously converting one-bed flats into family homes whilst converting family homes into one-bed flats, suing all the tenants involved over twelve to eighteen months with all the void losses and legal costs that that incurs, along with the ripping out of brand new ceilings, floorings etc etc, fitting new boilers whose exhaust gases could decimate London's bird wildlife by roasting, and filling the premises with glued products and toxic chemicals generally at the taxpayers expense.

What have floor boards ever done to you, Mr. McGregor?

Camden's own tenants are rightly sceptical about the proposed Arms Length Management Organisation currently being suggested. The arms in question are, allegedly, a little on the short side. CRISH offers a model well worth keeping an eye on.

And as for Genesis/PCHA? They made just under £20m profit last year. They won't go hungry. If they do, then they can draw on the £1,000,000,000 assets that they have accumulated off the backs of taxpayers, ratepayers and tenants.

 

 

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Burglar sues householder for £35,000?

Regulars will remember that the Housing Corporation's troubleshooter, Greg Lomax, apparently blamed the downfall of WHHA on the Finance Director, Douglas Wilson. He was summarily dismissed but subsequently took out a case against Pathmeads/WHHA for wrongful dismissal.

An Inside Housing article of last November has Housing Benefit being blamed for the crash. So, where was the gradual build up? Why did other housing associations escape? Instead of going to court and presumably winning, WHHA have used our rent money to settle with an out-of-court payment of about £29,000 + legal costs.

Why?

It would appear that WHHA do not have the confidence that they would win. So we must conclude that the cause of the crash of our housing association is not known and that nothing has been learned.

In the meanwhile, the WHHA's debt when Genesis/PCHA took over, £3m, has risen to £11.5m as of a year ago. What is the current figure?

According to the Group Director of Finance, David Levenson, it is secret.

 

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Schadenfreude Department: The Corporation's crisis - Update.

"Computer Weekly" reports that the contentious I.T. deal has been signed: "Housing Corporation confirms controversial outsourcing deal".

"Housing Today" report that the Corporation has called in the gumshoes. And of course, who will be paying for this? Yes, you are almost certainly right. "Housing Corporation calls in private detective for leak probe"

 

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Housing Corporation takes on the M.O.D. busters.

In a fit of uncharacteristic courage which is easily confusable with foolhardiness, the Housing Corporation has locked horns in combat with Computer Weekly  who have recently humiliated the Government and the Ministry of Defence over the Chinook helicopter, laden with V.I.P.s, which crashed into the Isle of Mull in the early nineties (try this link if you want to know more about this) and have recently received the PPA "Campaigning magazine of the year" award.

 

1. Housing staff walk out over outsourcing plan. By Mike Simons. 23 Jan.

2. Let logic prevail from Gateways. Leader article by the Editor. 23 Jan.

3. Housing Corporation lost data on tube. By Mike Simons. 30 Jan.

4. Computer Weekly resists gag. By Lindsay Clark. 30 Jan.

 

Emailing: The Editor, Karl Schneider - Mike Simons - Lindsay Clark

 

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Comment on the Inside Housing article of Dec. 12th 2002.

 The story "Genesis learns takeover lessons" (Inside Housing, 20 December) speaks of the Housing Corporation's view of "the importance of legal 'due diligence', keeping staff informed and having a media policy".

"Due diligence"? Self evident. "Keeping staff informed" - Yes. But why were tenants, the main victims, maintained deliberately in the dark? And lastly, of course, the opportunity for spin is not going to be overlooked by them, it seems.

The Corporation appears to have missed the point of the Genesis debacle, and that is that industrial troubleshooting is a highly skilled occupation, and cannot be left to regular housing association staff. By so doing, the Corporation has watched Paddington Churches/Genesis staff run WHHA's debt up from £3million to £11.5 million, a service for which they have charged us £2 million. And they excuse themselves with the ridiculous assertion that new debtors have arrived on the scene. WHHA's debt increases by around £2,000 per day. We can't afford Genesis.

The corporation must now send back a troubleshooter to straighten out the mess. Genesis/PCHA must now declare that no tenants will be evicted under Ground 9 to sell empty property, which is Genesis' only idea, apart from changing WHHA's name in a Windscale inspired piece of lunacy.

If it is to hope to win back respect from the sector that it is supposed to be regulating the Housing Corporation will find a way to pay for the damage that it has done .

 

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WHHA's name has changed ... but written confirmation is withheld.

Round about the last week of November the name of WHHA changed to Pathmeads Housing Association. But in an extraordinary move the company secretary, Sandra Raine, is not putting into the post written confirmation of the new situation.

Why?

This could be serious for some tenants, principally temporary ones, who may have had tenancy papers drawn up in the name of WHHA, now, apparently non existent, and their legal position could be, to put it mildly, odd.

Ms Raine was asked by fax to clarify the position on December 10th. In a telephone conversation today, Dec 19th, she didn't apologise for having not done this, and has no immediate plans to do it. (For the benefit of anyone who can't believe it, the phone number of PCHA is 020-8537 4537).

And what does Pathmeads stand for? PCHA's Absurd Team Have Managed Eight millions of Additional Debt So far.

 

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Camden New journal: "Listed block faces sale". Front page. 5/12/02

By Lee Gordon.

A front page piece on the refusal of councillors to rule out the sale of New Court, Hampstead, to developers. This historic site is protected by English Heritage. Tenants only wish that they were too. See the CNJ on the street now and in libraries.

 

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The Executive committe: the results.

Interim report

Agenda Item 10. The short life houses and the Co-op.

Both resolutions were passed. Much praise and support for the CRISH co-op was expressed, and the CDS option was generally favoured. PCHA/Genesis attracted a number of averse comments - including a remark from Councillor Gerry Harrison that he "had had run ins with PCHA". See the web page of Camden's report or see the .doc version of the report (if you have a pretty late version of Microsft Word - otherwise you will certainly get some odd results).

 

Agenda Item 16. New Court.

All resolutions passed except the one to allow sales. English heritage's decision to allow ten one-bed flats to be converted into five three-bed flats helps the viability of the project. See the web page of Camden's report or see Camden's report as a .doc file (if you have a pretty late version of Microsft Word - otherwise you may get odd results).

More soon.

 

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WHHA's Annual General Meeting. In secret again. 29th September 2002.

 Under the thunderous roar of WHHA's air conditioning the annual yawn of the A.G.M. took place. The first surprise, admittedly a pleasant one, was the appearance of a non shareholder in the form of Sue Robertshaw, Camden's assistant Director of Strategy and Resources. This confirms that PCHA/WHHA will treat their rules as it suits them.

The minutes of last year's meeting were criticised as being too thin and insubstantial; the chair ignored this and they were then simply passed.

Tom McGregor said that there had been 29 staff redundancies but omitted to say what the golden handshakes had cost. [The disappearance of Sunita Parbhaker is rumoured to have set us back £50,000].

We have an accumulated deficit of £11.5m and total owings of £27m. The group Director of Finance, yet another new face, David Levenson, said that getting WHHA trading on an even keel would "take a certain amount of time". [Wow. These accountants are demon communicators]. Adrian B led a spirited charge for information on how the 160 shortlife people have had over quarter of a million pounds in management costs booked to them. McGregor huffed and puffed and no useful response came out. The chair of Management Board, Richard Parkhill, then refused to provide the information.

There was much talk on WHHA's huge debt and how it was to be sorted out. We were told that flats would have to be sold, but that only empty ones would be. Peter R asked for an absolute assurance from Mr. McGregor that "Ground 9" would not be used to evict people first.

Mr. McGregor stated that he refused to give this assurance.

The Chief Executive of the Genesis Housing Group, Mr. Anu Vedi, was at the meeting and despite being asked to comment, refused to say anything throughout the whole evening.

Adrian asked why there were no tenants on Management Board. After an extended period of evasion, Mr. McGregor said that temporary leasing tenants weren't going to get representation. Permanent tenants were being made to wait because "PCHA was keen to devise a permanent policy". [Haven't they got permanent tenants of their own, for Heavens' sake?] And as for shortlife, he was waiting to see if they floated off into their own Co-op. (In the meanwhile, an important period of time, they were getting no representation on the Board).

David Levenson was asked about the amount of legal costs spent by WHHA. He said it was about the same as last year. Peter pointed out that this was not a helpful answer since last year's figure was not known. Levenson conceded the worthlessness of this piece of communication.

Legal costs remain secret.

Adrian asked why the minutes of Management Board's meetings were secret - despite the fact that WHHA always published them until PCHA came along. In an extraordinary statement Richard Parkhill explained that WHHA had gone under because of some of its practices. He actively implied that releasing Management Board minutes was therefore a bad practice.

In  another  bizarre exchange with Tom McGregor, Peter asked if the old head offices had been sold. He was told "Yes". (How come? Don't forget that it has recently been squatted).Who to? Lots of fumbling about and general indecisive muttering went on. Then it became clear that something very odd was going on. Peter guessed and challenged that WHHA had sold their offices to PCHA. Mr. McGregor admitted this with embarrassment - this was part of a loan deal. [N.B. - PCHA have assets of £1B].

 

The Special General Meeting.

The chair cut short debate, and went on to the Special General Meeting. This had one item; to change the name of WHHA to "Pathmeads" since PCHA are of the opinion that the name "WHHA" has negative connotations.

Adrian pointed out the futility; Peter mentioned Windscale, and said that the problem of WHHA was not its name; it was its managers, namely PCHA, since we had a debt of £3m when they arrived, and after 18 months of their work, it is now £11.5m.

Because PCHA has swamped our shareholders, this (and any other motion they may care to produce) was voted through.

(What does Pathmeads stand for? PCHA's Absurd Team Have Managed Eight millions of Additional Debt So far).

 

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PCHA's Tenant Profile Form: Entirely voluntary.

WHHA's Permanent tenants have just received a newsletter with a 19 question "Tenant Profile form". This asks for a whole raft of information allegedly totally unnecessary for the running of a housing asociation - for instance: date of birth - National Insurance number - employment status - medical details - ethnic origin including details of those of mixed race - religion - info about involvement with probation, psychiatric, social worker services - etc. The form requires a signature.

Question 8 carries the option "question refused". This implies that the others do not have this option.

Not so, apparently. According to PCHA's Boe Williams Obasi, the filling in of this form is entirley up to us. If you don't like it, tear it up.

Why didn't you say so on the form, Ms. Williams Obasi?

 

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Inside Housing:  "West Hampstead sell off: Councils' 'compensation' "

This report covers the Housing Corporation's efforts to placate the boroughs for bailing out the housing asociation which they, allegedly, watched sail onto the rocks. The unnamed spokeswoman spoke of ensuring that there is no loss of social housing. These people appear so focussed on property that they appear to have forgotten that it is the tenants that have suffered most from this sorry mess by seeing their promised proper housing sink below the waves. (Remember those rent increases of the early nineties and the promise of future housing in return?) 

 

Click here for Inside Housing's full report

 

 

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Kilburn Times: "Family's fury after repairs delay". 14th August.

It would seem that the disgraceful story of the Sheehans (see below) has not been resolved almost a year on. See page 3. This time PCHA/Genesis/WHHA are blaming the insurance company.

Why doesn't PCHA simply pay and allow itself to be repaid in due course?

 

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The first "Great Joke of the Third Millenium".

It must be well over a year since the decision was made to sell WHHA's old head office at Grangeway to reduce the debt mountain. The staff moved out before Christmas.

Squatters have moved in.

Why was the building not sold? Why have we lost the interest on around £2m to £3m for over 7 months? What is the amount?

About £73,000 and rising.

At least some homeless people have somewhere to live at the moment. That must be some consolation.

 

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Camden New journal: Plea to Town Hall: save our homes from sell-off". 15/8/02

1. Article by Lee Gordon on last Wednesday's deputation to Camden Council. (See below). Page 5.

2. Letters to the Editor. Page 12.

 

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Camden at the crossroads: they vote to turn both Left and Right.

At a meeting of Camden's Executive Council on 7th August, councillors had before them two motions:

1. to talk to PCHA with a view to selling them last remaining two dozen houses in which we live.

2. to talk to us about setting up a suitable housing co-operative to receive the buildings.

They voted to do both. Councillors listened to two delegations from about a dozen tenants, one opposing the waiving of clawback clauses on WHHA owned houses that Genesis/PCHA want to sell to pay off the WHHA debt (or rather the mounting interest). See below. PCHA can sell these houses which WHHA bought off the council, but the issue is the clawback money which Camden negotiated just in case they should try to do just that. Councillors voted to wait until the AGM to see what WHHA's financial position is.

The second delegation outlined the benefits of voting for the option to help in the formation of a co-op.

 

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Adrian Bell, chair of Genesis: Crisis? What crisis?

Adrian Bell, senior executive of the Royal Bank of Canada and the new chair of the Genesis Housing Group, in his address in the group Annual Report for this year, entitled "The Cycle of Life", states:

"It saddens me to see nothing but ill informed stories in the media regarding the financial situation at WHHA. Certainly the situation was serious; certainly there are many lessons to be learnt. But the overriding point is that without the management and substantial financial and human resource input from Genesis, along with the support of the Housing Corporation and our local authority partners, WHHA would simply no longer exist. Three thousand homes would have been lost to social housing. They have not."

It is hard to be sure what planet Mr. Bell is living on. In order to give him a bit of grounding, and to get some replies to some questions, here are some for him to look at.

1. Tenants understand that the WHHA debt when Genesis took over was £3million. We are told that the position in February was £8m. Is this true? What is the debt now?

2. How is this debt being currently funded? Is it true that the daily cost of this debt is £1000?

3. Why did the then Group Finance Director refuse to answer questions on this matter at the recent WHHA AGM?

4. You have asked Camden council for clearance to sell homes to pay off the debt and have estimated that 20 - 35 properties may ultimately need to be sold. How will you do this if you do not have this number of empty permanent housing stock?

5. Why have you mounted expensive legal cases aganst three tenants to get them classed as Assured tenants rather than Secure tenants if you are not planning to use Ground 9 to evict them, and sell their homes?

6. Some ex-Camden family homes have been sold. Another has been rented AT MARKET RATES effectively to the council's Homeless Persons Unit. Having bought the house with a great deal of taxpayers' money and having done it up with more of the same, you are charging Housing Benefit around £750 per week instead of the more usual rates for social housing. You may be able to do this legally but do you consider this to be morally right?

7. How long will it take you to get these buildings sold? How much will be paid out in total in interest by the time these houses are sold?

8. Is it true that Genesis has assets of £1,000,000,000 built up on the backs of the taxpayer and the tenant? Why don't you effectively return some of your accumulated wealth to those from whom it came by paying off the debt, and be done with it?

9. Why has WHHA Limited not got its own Finance Director or Manager?

10. Why is PCHA's AGM this Wednesday (July 31st) being held in secret?

11. Why are WHHA tenants being refused access to their personal files?

12. Why are WHHA's Management Board agendas and minutes secret?

Mr Bell is chairman of the Royal Bank of Canda (Europe). Their mission statement has several aspects but includes the sentance:

"Our focus is on improving performance in each of our businesses to achieve consistent and superior returns for our shareholders". 

Is this why he has just been chosen as a chairman in social housing? But the Genesis constitution doesn't allow this. Mr. Bell can only use salaries to divi out. Is this why his chief executive is believed to get £3,000 per week?

POSTSCRIPT. On July 26th the chair of Genesis was asked to check these facts, and was offered a Right to Reply. As of September 20th, he has not responded.

 

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Our South London friends sharpen their spears.

WHHA shortlifers usually feel that they are an isolated case of systematic abuse over decades, as the Housing Corporation troubleshooter, Greg Lomax, put it in February of last year (see here). Since Mr. Lomax's comments, which were made towards the end of his reign, under the direction of Genesis and PCHA, our abuse has, allegedly, increased greatly.

But there are many other shortlife groups out there, the most celebrated being the Rushcroft Road Action Group, which includes the now legendary Gary Bruton. They were shortlifers with the London & Quadrant Housing Association until the council, Lambeth, took back the houses with them still living in them. The tenants are claiming that they are tenants of the council.

In a major article on page 2 of the June 27th issue, Property People discusses the case that the tenants are taking against Lambeth. The case is being driven forward by Anna Arnone, a tenant and legal student.

For the full text, go to Property People and scroll down the page to "Residents take landlord to court over tenancy rights"

 

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Radio 4. "Any Answers". Dimbleby set right on housing solutions. 8/6/02.

In reply to a question on how, with continually escalating housing prices, the problem of housing could ever be solved, the T.A.'s chair, Peter Rutherford, went on air to say that, if the councils are to be refused the chance to do the work, then the problem could be solved with not-for-profit public interest housing associations who are properly accountable to both tenants and funders. A bit like the councils. The attitudes and policies of existing h.a.s were a real difficulty. He quoted the banking of £15 million profit by Paddington Churches Housing Association whilst so many of their problems lie unsolved. See their accounts, March 2000.

A clearly shocked Jonathan Dimbleby asked if these profits were distributed, and the answer came back that Genesis/PCHA were not allowed to. Instead the directors and staff vote themselves unnecessarily high salaries. (The Chief Executive, Mr. Anu Vedi, is understood to get about £3,000 per week), and despite having assets of around £1B, they feel the need to go, cap in hand, to the Housing Corporation for more taxpayers cash.

 

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HOUSING TODAY: "NEW NAME FOR TROUBLED RSL". 24TH May 2002.

 

Apparently we are to get a new name in a month or two. An example of the Windscale School of Image Improvement. Anu Vedi, C.E.O. of Genesis is quoted as saying "This will reflect the new and wider scope of the new organisation". In actuality, the scope of the new organisation is to be narrower - just the private sector leasing, with shortlife hopefully sorted and permanent housing moved to PCHA.

Only now have they checked to see if the proposed name of Beechwood, which goes back a year and a quarter was actually in use. It would seem that it is. So, having printed up all that literature and all those colour page ads in the housing press, the name will be scrapped.

Tenants have every right to question the technical, managerial and financial competence of those in charge of WHHA now.

What did the Acting Director, Elaine Sanders, actually do in her last job? What experience does her boss, Tom McGregor, have in the field of troubleshooting and managing of industrial wastelands?

Why has our debt gone up from £3M when they took over to £8M a few months ago?

What is the figure now?

Why did the GroupFinance Director, Dominic Gibb, refuse to talk about this at the recent A.G.M.?

 Full report

 

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C.N.J.: "New journal camera saves Iranian refugee from eviction". 24th May 2002. Page 4.

By Lee Gordon. (Photography: Martin Newman).

An Iranian refugee who has just started the second stage of a three stage Home Office assessment procedure has had his status revoked by Camden's Homeless Persons Unit. This was confirmed by the council's Temporary Housing Group. The eviction did not go ahead on Monday because the paperwork went wrong, the landlord claimed.

"Genesis/PCHA/WHHA, managers of the property on behalf of Camden, know how to evict people. They do a lot of it. I find this excuse idiotic" said Peter Rutherford, Chair WHHA Tenants' Association (in exile). "At the last count that was not classed secret, WHHA alone had 180 empty flats. Camden have twice that."

More on this later.

The C.N.J.'s article

 

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C.N.J. "ANGELS CAUGHT IN HOUSING MELTDOWN". Page 2. 25th April.

By Lee Gordon.

The article covers the issuing of Notices to Quit to two key workers, nurses, in a bid to get their house empty. There are no funds to do the necessary repairs. The property has been empty now for about four months, and the loss of rent is around the £4,000 mark.

One of them is now being crippled by a rent of £200 per week, and the other has found temporary nursing work in Kent.

There were serious bad management issues and alleged gross disrepair matters which have been going on for a couple of years.

London is likely to lose two nurses on a permanent basis, and their places will be filled by agency staff at around £100,000 per year extra for each lost nurse.

Opinions on why this might make sense could be sought from Camden Council's Housing Department (tel: 020-7974 4444) or WHHA/PCHA/Genesis on 020-8537 4537.

 Note: As of April 2004, not a shilling in rent has been obtained since the eviction.

 

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INSIDE HOUSING: "CATASTROPHIC DEFICIT REVEALED BY NEW ACCOUNTS". 1/3/02.

By Gavin Curry.

The article paints a bleak picture of WHHA finances. In the year up to March 2001, WHHA suffered a deficit of £4.1M compared to £212,000 for the previous year.

However, it was not pointed out that the accounts are now 11 months old, and the Genesis Director of Finance, Dominic Gibb refused at the A.G.M. to describe the position now.

The article says "Most importantly, no tenants have ended up in the streets". But at the A.G.M., Mr. Gibb was asked to confirm that no tenants would be evicted to enable their homes to be sold on the open market. He refused.

 

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TIME OUT: "RATS AND RACISM ... " AND GENESIS. Page 12. 20/02/02.

By Judy Kerr.

By way of introduction ... the Genesis Housing Group is a bucket containing Paddington Churches Housing Association, Sutherland h.a. and Beechwood, an empty box destined to receive WHHA. PCHA is to handle permanent flats, and Beechwood the temporary. Sutherland is a shared ownership outfit with responsibility for key workers (nurses, firemen and so on).

We have a situation where WHHA has isssued Notices to Quit to two nurses and has got them out to achieve yet another empty house whilst Sutherland is supposed to be looking after them with little or no experience in temporary accommodation (that is PCHA and WHHA's bag).

Judy Kerr's article in Time Out describes how (without experience in this tricky field) Sutherland is responsible for charging underpaid nurses £150 per week for:

1. unhygienic sanitary facilities

2. non-functioning/ malfunctioning appliances

3. defaulting on promises about central heating

4. refurbishment amounting sometimes to "a lick of paint"

5. bad ratio of facilities to people

6. blocked fire exits

7. rats, roaches and rubbish

8. extra rent because they are in "refurbished" flats

9 ... and rent rises from April 1st.

A Genesis spokeswoman said "As much of the improvement work centres on legislation and security compliance, the results may not be immediately apparent".

They aren't, you are dead right.

She went on: "We have initiated discussions to set up regular tenant liaison meetings at which views and concerns can be listened to".

That's not what the nurses want - they want the rats rehoused and the work done. Anyway, Genesis' Deputy Director of Development, Tony Hall, has recently closed down WHHA's only tenants liaison committee set up by Camden's Chair of Housing, Brian Weekes, and so they should not hold their breath waiting for tenant initiatives.

[They talk of rent strikes - can be tricky - but rent could be paid into an Escrow Account]

[On its own, PCHA made an operating profit of £15,505,000: year ending 31/3/2000]

[Genesis' top man is believed to get £3,000 per week out of our rent money]

 

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THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING. - OUTFLANKED BY DIRTY TRICKS.

 

The meeting was chaired by Richard Parkhill, chair of WHHA, with Sandra Raine, Company Secretary on his left and on his right, Dominic Gibb, Genesis Group Director of Finance. 

A paper was handed to everyone who attended comprising a statement, a Property People front page story and the response.

The main points of the meeting was to approve the accounts and to verify the minutes of three previous meetings, 28th September 2000, 30th January 2001 and 25th June 2001. This last meeting's minutes contained what is regarded as a very important error which needed correcting. This was Mr. McGregor's statement that he "would abide by" the Lomax Declarations of 15th Feb. 2001 which was omitted from the minutes. 

However, instead of dealing with each of the three sets separately and in a normal fashion, the first two were bundled together and dealt with firstly. The final meeting's minutes were handled secondly. At this point, Peter Rutherford, the T.A.'s chair started to take an interest, ready for the "third" session of minute verification. And of course, they had just been passed in their incorrect, allegedly, form. 

Peter explained: "I apologised for my lack of attention, and asked the meeting to drop back and deal with the minutes of the third meeting again because the minutes were seriously in error." 

At this point, the chair, Richard Parkhill, jumped in and refused to allow the meeting even a chance to decide to have another look at the third meeting's minutes. 

"It just goes to show how totally lacking in natural fairness and justice these people are", Peter said. "I made a mistake, but they have a vested interest in steam rollering through what is seen as a false record of an event which is very important for tenants".

The issue is before the Housing Ombudsman.

All three sets of minutes for the three meetings had many "matters arising" from them which should have been followed up to ensure progress is made. Mr. Parkhill refused to allow any of these matters arising to be discussed.

 In a question about the alleged incompetence of the auditors, Dominic Gibb said that he "wasn't convinced that we were provided with the service we deserved" but refused to undertake to take legal action against them for the recovery of alleged losses. This was under review, he said. More talk of the mess WHHA got us into - 1,800 landlords accounts that were not reconciled, apparently. On the subject of whether he would guarantee that tenants would not be evicted to sell houses empty, he refused to give such an assurance.

One of the shareholders, and a member of PCHA's Management Board, Ivan Weekes, objected to having WHHA management referred to as "grossly mismanaging". What else can we say? Does he want us to lie? There was talk of basic tenant issues and a number of shareholders objected. Tenants suggested that those shareholders should just go. They wouldn't, and grumbled on. Peter added "This is what happens when an outsider housing association comes in and fills up the shareholders register with a load of outsiders who don't give a damn. The shareholders are important. They have the final say. Our shareholding has been completely trashed by Genesis/PCHA".

There was talk of the £6M - £8M deficit in WHHA's situation. Because the meeting was about the March 2001 accounts, and because we did not have that deficit then, Mr. Gibb refused to speak on the matter or anything that he did not like which was not in the March 2001 accounts.

It used to be called "working to rule".

After much talk of why Genesis have no tenants on their Management Board, and of why PCHA's record is so poor, it became clear that WHHA has no intention of permitting tenants on the Board at any time in the useful immediate future. There followed this exchange:

Peter R. "Why are you so scared of tenants?"

Richard P. "That is an interesting question".

 

Out of the 76, 3 tenant-shareholders and 9 stranger-shareholders turned up.

 

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IN SECRET: WHHA'S ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING. THIS THURSDAY 21 FEB.

As one would expect, the meeting is closed to all but registered shareholders and the minutes of the last meeting are secret.

It will be held at their Neasden Offices at 6.30pm. (i.e. Chancel House, Neasden Lane, London NW10 2AY).

 

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 C. N. J. ARTICLES.

"WHHA DIRTY TRICKS?"

by Lee Gordon, page 2.

The article describes Councillor Flick Rea's evidence to the Scrutiny panel in which allegations of collusion by Labour within the council and WHHA were made.

 

"CALL TO REVIEW RIGHT TO BUY AS HOUSE PRICES SOAR"

by Tony Neal.

The second article, in the Property Section, mentions the Lib Dems' demand that Camden refuse to sell further property to WHHA [They must mean PCHA]

 

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CAMDEN'S SCRUTINY PANEL. GENESIS IN THE CHAIR.

 [Editorial comment in square brackets]

Camden Council received evidence from Ms. Elaine Sanders who seems to describe herself differently every time she appears somewhere. This time she is Head of Temporary Housing including Acting Director of WHHA.

Asked about what went wrong, she blamed offices split between Grangeway and Tottenham, high arrears, bad records. And "negative differentials on temporary leasing", which apparently is a nice way of describing the practice of buying loaves of bread at 70p knowing that you will only sell them for 50p. Poor computer - an accounting system not a management one - they were unable to get the landlords' names and addresses out of it - has been for two and a half years or more, and is still in use. Poor staff morale, suspicious of management. Contractors unwilling to do more maintenance work until they had been paid for what they had already done.[What a load of communists]. Poor turnover of empty flats. Temporary housing was too spread out - over fifteen local authority areas.

On the subject of short-life, she said that the problems were complex. Poor condition. No resources to repair. She agreed with residents that there was a need to act (???). She was talking to Camden officials.

Average yearly costs: Permanent: £11.700 Shortlife: £3,950

Average yearly rent: Permanent :£10,950. Shortlife: £2,740.

( n.b. permanent flats must have an average of 2 - 3 bedrooms)

Shortlife runs at a loss, she alleges. [Please note this figure of £3,950. It is what they say SL costs them to run per flat].

There is now a "performance management culture" whatever in reality that means. More focused. Over 100 staff.

At this point, the chair, John Rolfe, accused her of having a secretive culture. This earned the first of a long string of "don't knows" or "no comments".

When asked what went wrong with the finances at WHHA, she said that private sector leasing needed tight management which wasn't there and then blamed the losses incurred by shortlife housing (!).

When asked why the auditors didn't pick up the problems earlier, she said that she couldn't speak on their behalf. [She wasn't being asked to speak on their behalf. She was being asked for her opinion on why the auditors couldn't spot the problem. [Shades of Enron?]

Could the board have done anything? She didn't know.

Could the council have seen it coming? She didn't know.

Councillor Janet Guthrie asked if the Council had enough checks and balances. ES replied that PCHA had good relationship and data exchange. Cllr Heather Johnson asked if PCHA had a crisis, would Camden be able to see it coming. ES didn't know.

On the subject of whether the Housing Corporation's intervention in October and WHHA's request to Camden to sell now three four bed houses and eventually 20 -35 WHHA permanent houses would be a quick enough solution, she did not know what the councillors were talking about.

Is this woman in charge?

She rambled on about group structures and communications, mentioning that Beechwood would be temporary, PCHA permanent and Sutherland shared ownership and housing key workers [but not that she had just evicted two key workers]. Cllr Rolfe explained the council's system of white papers which are public, and pink papers which were secret. Would she consider such a system? She didn't know.

Cllr Johnson asked if there was a problem with PSL sector, would it financially affect short-life or permanent sectors? She didn't know.

ES said that we would probably join Genesis on 1st April, initially as WHHA and eventually to become Beechwood.

Is WHHA still using the computer system which has been giving trouble for two and a half years? Yes. Hoping to change over to PCHA's system over Easter.

What is the latest estimate on the need to flog off permanent properties to stay afloat? She didn't know. She suggested 25 - 30 houses. Grangeway and Tottenham offices up for sale.

When will the March 2001 accounts be ready? After Annual General Meeting this Thursday 21st Feb. Meeting closed to all but registered shareholders. [Draft minutes of last meeting are secret]. Much discussion on housing benefit payment problems.

*** How can Camden and Genesis work better together? She said that Camden must agree their SL strategy and agree to sales to them. [There will be discussion on this issue]. 

She stressed need for tighter management controls and better skills. Also, that the Council should share the risks with them. [And the profits, presumably]. Almost with crocodile tears she spoke of £10,000 to £15,000 to keep a family in Bed & Breakfast per year [but omitted to mention that the government ends up paying for this, and that two family homes have recently been converted into one-bed flats just to service the Messina 7 Project]

Waffle on the subject of the council having members sitting on the Management Board. She spoke of practical difficulties. [In the past, the problem was getting them to show up] 

How much spent on repairs? She did not speak of temporary housing or short-life, needless to say, but instead said that the figure for permanent (i.e. usually new) housing was £550 per annum. 

Cllr. Rolfe asked the $64,000 question. How was there a shortfall of £5million in the reckoning? She said that WHHA had not accounted for it. [Phew! What an intellect].

On the role of the Housing Corporation in the whole mess, she had no comment.

 Cllr. Wauchope asked why the Hackney housing benefit problem was spotted so late. She didn't know.

Cllr. Fulbrook asked for details of councillors who had sat on WHHA's board. She didn't know.

 

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HOUSING TODAY: CAMDEN PROBES WEST HAMPSTEAD. 31/1/02. Page 2.

In brief, the L.B. Camden Scrutiny Panel 's interview of the Housng Corporation was covered. Councillor John Rolfe, Chair, is quoted as saying "All checks and balances seem to have failed". Councillor Jane Schopflin said "One gets the impression that not all the proper information is always there. You have to depend on boards making their assessment."

Derek King, Regulation Director of the Housing Corporation is quoted as blaming the computer. The National Audit Office would be consulting on access to information about RSLs once WHHA's rescue package was in place - Hacas Chapman Hendy had (sic) produced a report on the fiasco.

 

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UPDATE: SCRUTINY PANEL INTERVIEWS HOUSING CORPORATION. 28TH JAN. 

Having condemned the culture of secrecy which contributed much to WHHA's downfall, the Housing Corporation's Director of Regulation, Derek King, used secrecy to evade any question that came close to disclosing anything about what happened and how such can be avoided in the future. For instance, when the panel's chair, Councillor John Rolfe, asked if the council could have seen the crisis coming, Mr. King would not reply, and instead said that it might prejudice the HACAS Chapman Hendy inquiry which is supposed to be under way. [Is this social housing's very own "5th Amendment"?]

Mr. King wants to be more forward looking, [which means that the lessons of the past may get glossed over] and has a programme of risk assessment being put together by Robson Rhodes [Yes, WHHA's now ex-auditors] and others.

He says that the WHHA debacle has lessons for him to learn. [Very possibly, Mr. King, but in the meanwhile, with the anticipated sale of 20 - 35 houses, about 100 of us stand to be evicted to pay for his education].

John Rolfe asked about complaints submitted by tenants to the Corporation. Mr. King admitted that he doesn't have the staff; that it is a job for the Independent Housing Ombudsman, but the Ombudsman cannot deal with governance issues, and said that his office can't distinguish individual service delivery complaints from governance complaints. [Won't someone give him a hand?]

He says that new measures will enable him "to pick up problems earlier than we were able to in the past". [Able to? He had a Regulation Accountant at the heart of WHHA's offices and who was handed a damning document at the 1999 AGM and she appears to have done nothing. What else does he want? A video?].

He says that his office will phone the last half a dozen tenants who have filed complaints to see if they are satisfied, and that his office takes seriously any report that indicates weakness of management. [So, what went wrong?]

Cllr Piers Wauchope has to ask three or four times how many other h.a.s had got into trouble before any sort of response came out of Mr. King. A trickle, he said. [This needs a further look]. The Concillor asked why a Statutory Inquiry was ruled out. "We need to keep WHHA afloat to enter Genesis", Mr. King said. [And why not do that and have a Statutory Inquiry?]

Cllr Sybil Shine asked why he doesn't visit houses. Mr. King said that they visited a few brand new refurbed showcases! [The answer may be that the Housing Corporation is spread sheet focussed. Houses are cold and untidy things].

CllrJohn Rolfe asked if the problem was that the proper information wasn't there. Mr. King said Yes. [Possibly the information was there but that it was actually incorrect].

Councillor Julian Fulbrooke asked if late accounts were a normality. Mr. King said that 2 - 3 weeks was not uncommon. [WHHA's last set are now almost three years old].

Peter Wright, of the Camden Federation of Private Tenants, asked about tenants in governance. Mr. King said that they encouraged it. Understanding residents interests should be part of the board's interest. [So, what went wrong?].

Cllr Rolfe asked the $64,000 question about whether our homes were being used as security for loans based on whether we were in them or evited if the worse came to the worse. The answer could not be given. It varies from lender to lender and deal to deal.

Cllr David Horam asked about information disclosure and transparency. Mr. King said that there was scope for h.a.s to be more open.

Mr. King offers a programme and a process of improvement when the Scrutiny Panel has a deadline and urgency.

Cllr Heather Johnson asked what indicators there were to an impending crash. Mr. King replied that the computer system installed in April 1999 was a mistake. [Ye olde chestnutte].

Another $64,000 question from Cllr Wauchope: Why did WHHA crash? Mr. King said that we should ask Genesis when they visit on February 13th. [We will, Mr. King, but the odds that Ms Elaine Sanders, Director of WHHA, (who stands in for Mr. Tom McGregor who mysteriously has found a clash in his diary, and seems to regard the Panel as less important) will say "I don't know" currently stands at 99/100 on]. Mr King said that he didn't want to answer the question and muddy the waters and get in the way. Emphasis on getting WHHA into Genesis.

Cllr Rolfe suggested that all checks and balances had failed. Mr. King could only say that HACAS were having their own investigation.

The Housing Corporation's Director of Regulation heard at least half a dozen requests for advice on what happened, how the crash could have been predicted, and requests for health indicators etc. He hid behind a screen of silence based on a supposition that any help he might give now, and now is when it is wanted, would somehow prejudice the H.A.C.A.S. report which does not appear to have even started. "Be wary of secretive organisations", he said.

We will.

(N.B. Derek King tells us to expect an annual General Meeeting in six weeks. This is when we discover what sort of black hole these "professionals" have got us in. Entry into the Genesis Group around April 1st.)

 

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CAMDEN NEW JOURNAL. 24th JAN. "TOWN HALL BLAMED FOR COLLAPSE OF WHHA" 

By Lee Gordon.

This article is based on the Full Report of the tenants' address to and interview by the Camden Scrutiny Panel.

 

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CAMDEN'S SCRUTINY PANEL INTERVIEWS TENANTS. 16TH JAN.

After the crash of WHHA, Camden Council set up a Scrutiny Panel to look into what could be learned from the mess. Four tenants went down and spoke for about an hour. Their Full Report contains the main points.

 

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KILBURN TIMES: 16TH JANUARY. "HOUSE IS LEFT AWASH."

In a front page article, the plight of a family in Kingsgate Road, N.W.6. who have lost much of their bathroom ceiling due to non fixing of a persistent leak is related.

The Sheehans have had this leak for eighteen months.

PCHA/WHHA say that "if their is a problem" that they will send a contractor to fix it.

Yes, Mr. PCHA, there is a problem. And it would probably have cost shillings and sixpences if it had been dealt with when first reported. With the likely cost of replacement furnishings etc., the cost may well be either a four figure sum or even a five figure one if there are structural implications.

We have a new Maintenance Manager. If he can get to grips with what is going on, then there is a chance of change. Otherwise, tenants will continue to go to solicitors and use that route as the only realistic remedy.

 

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--- 2002 ---

 

 

NEWSLETTER: "WE ARE ON THE MOVE".

This is proclaimed in the new WHHA newsletter which arrived two days before they moved out of the Grangeway premises . The move, not the first manned landing on the surface of the sun which many might have hoped for, is instead to some inaccessible location in Neasden. As from now, they are at Chancel House, Neasden Lane, London NW10 2AY.

Office Telephone: 020-8438 5300 More phone numbers below.

Maintenance: 020-8438 5319 (or 0845 224 0131 - out of hours: 0845 224 0141).

On page 2, they say that "...many of the outstanding financial issues have been resolved..." but doesn't mention that our debt problem has risen from £3m in February to £8m - £24m depending on what report is believed.

"As newspapers sometimes publish inaccurate stories..." We are much influenced by the documents submitted by PCHA/WHHA and the Housing Corporation submission to Camden Council on October 10th saying that the position was so bad that three family houses had to be sold now, and that they envisaged 20 -35 more properties in the frame.

"...less than 5% opposed the change" is their comment on the S.G.M. vote to enter the Genesis Group in June. True, but since 90% were strangers, this means that 50% of people associated with WHHA voted against.

"Please be reassured that we only plan to sell properties that are empty". There are very few empties in permanent housing. How many such properties do you have at this moment, Mr. McGregor?

How many such houses have there been in our permanent stock over the last ten years?

Has there ever been an entire house empty all at once?

How long will it take to have 35 empty buildings ready for sale?

How much will our bank overdraft have gone up to by the time this is achieved?

 

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KILBURN TIMES. 6/12/01. HOUSING SCANDAL KILLS TRUST.

 By Teresa Keane. Page 4.

In a half page article with a picture of a long suffering and/or exasperated Brian Weekes, Camden's Executive Member for Housing, the blame is laid squarely on the shoulders of the Housing Corporation.

The debt has apparently gone up to a possible £24m and the conclusion is that the treasury is not likely to foot the bill. What may be relevant is that the Housing Corporation may be playing a game of poker with the rate payers of North London, or at least their representatives. They tell Camden (Brent must be involved as well) that if they do not stump up an interest free loan of £300,000, and waive rights to the return of £150,000 when the three family homes are sold, then there will be financial and political melt down with the eviction into Bed & Breakfast of around 3,000 people/families. Camden, who have been misinformed in the past, simply believe this. The truth of the matter may lie in what the Corporation's troubleshooter told tenants on February 15th this year, namely that the Corporation have all manner of special and contingency funds which PCHA's Mr. Sonny Karanjia, Director of Development, was particularly good at loosening up.

Why hasn't he?

The residents of Camden, and probably Brent along with many north London boroughs, are soon going to sustain considerable losses caused by the regulator's failure to regulate.

The Housing Corporation should realise that there was talk a year or so ago of their being closed down. Their licence has less time to run than they imagine. Along with all who attended the AGM of 1999, their Regulation Accountant was handed a document which should have alerted her to fundamental problems, both moral and financial. She did not even reply. They have behaved quite extraordinarily, and their bosses, the National Audit Office, may well expect and require them, rather than the boroughs, to pay for the damage that their failure to regulate has caused.

 

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PCHA SUPPRESSES THE RULE BOOK.

In a bizarre move, PCHA are refusing to supply copies of any of the "Policy & Procedure" documents, listed below, which govern most of the Association's behaviour.

The ban, says Maria Power, Tenant Liaison Officer, is because the documents are being revised and updated. However, they are still in force, which is not much use to tenants if they are prevented from finding out what they consist of. Regardless of whether they are being updated or not, the procedures in force must be made available. The Independent Housing Ombudsman has been notified.

Tenants are being called upon to appeal against what often seems to be PCHA's arbitrary rulings but without knowing the rules. This is fundamentally unjust.

The Chair of the Housing Corporation, Baroness Dean, speaks of fundamental governance problems. You are dead right, Brenda.

 

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Shortlife prolonged for West Hampstead

by Viv Jackson. 15th Nov. 2001.

Tenants of the stricken West Hampstead Housing Association have been told their homes are safe from sale – despite needing nearly three times more rescue money than was initially estimated.

Genesis Housing Group, which hopes to incorporate the troubled housing association, needs to raise up to £8m in sales to meet West Hampstead’s obligations. It aims to sell up to £5.5m worth of void property with a £2.5m sale of two office properties to redeem between £6m and £8m of loans.

But the chair of West Hampstead’s tenants’ association “in exile”, Peter Rutherford, questioned how it was that the RSL’s stated initial £3m shortfall had risen to £8m.

“It does not explain how Mr Vedi’s Paddington Churches Housing Association, as management agents, ran the debt up to £8m in just eight months,” Rutherford alleged.

But a Genesis spokesman said: “The overall indebtedness has not grown substantially since February of this year. The figure of £3m was the value of the overdraft at the time.

“There were however other liabilities which existed then, which totalled a further £3-5m, but which had not been paid out. Some of these have now been paid, which has increased the overdraft... the total amount adds up to the £6-8m in our forecast.”

The spokesman said assurances that shortlife properties in Camden would not be sold, given by Housing Corporation troubleshooter Greg Lomax last year, will be honoured. “It is the intention to sell only void properties over a period of time, meaning no tenants will have to move out.”

But a report from Camden council said that the sale might not suffice.

Camden has made the unprecedented move of waiving rights to a £150,000 clawback on properties it sold to WHHA, as well as giving the RSL a £300,000 interest free loan.

The report states that if WHHA collapsed, Camden would have to shoulder the estimated £1.8m cost of housing 452 households currently in WHHA temporary accommodation.

“Genesis have undertaken not to sell properties where the local authority has strong reasons to request their omission, but if enough properties can not be sold then the insolvency of WHHA may be merely postponed rather than prevented,” the report says.

Housing Today

 

 

A Camden report does not agree with these findings.

 

 

Editorial Comment:

PCHA appear to have discovered £5m of extra liabilites since February. What on earth is going on? The accounts cannot be produced for the A.G.M., £5m of debts fall off the top of a wardrobe, and now they tell us that they are not going to sell off the Camden shortlife property that we live in.

Of course they aren't. It isn't theirs to sell. Its Camden's.

They want to sell "£5.2m of void property". They can't. They haven't got £5.2m of void property. The void levels in permanent housing is very good. It is most unlikely that there is even one house empty, let alone £5.2m worth of empty permanent housing available for sale.

Unless, of course, they get out their Notices To Quit.

There have to be real doubts about the financial competence of the PCHA staff running WHHA. If the Housing Corporation do not step in soon, then their competence may be up for scrutiny.

More on this soon.

 

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KILBURN TIMES. "I WAITED TWENTY YEARS".

By Teresa Keane (page 8)

Available in some Camden libraries. Full report soon. 

 

KILBURN TIMES. "TENANTS FACE CRUNCH". p.5. 25 OCT.

By Teresa Keane.

Available in some Camden libraries. Full report soon.

 

KILBURN TIMES. 18 OCT. FRONT PAGE STORY.

By Teresa Keane.

Available in some Camden libraries. Full report soon.

  

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CAMDEN NEW JOURNAL. 18TH OCT. "SPECIAL REPORT: £8M FIASCO THAT LED TO COLLAPSE OF TOP LANDLORD".

By Lee Gordon.

Available in some Camden libraries. Full report soon.

  

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CAMDEN TO SET UP A "SCRUTINY PANEL" ON HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS. 16th Oct.

At the Executive Meeting on 10th October (see below) councillors were so shocked by the mess of WHHA that they suggested to the new Scrutiny Commission that registered social landlords (housing associations) should be studied. This body met today, 16th, and voted to set up a Scrutiny Panel to look into RSLs.

One of our shortlife tenants, Jane Stockwell, delivered a speech to the Commission, and they voted to form the panel in a matter of a couple of weeks or so, and to set it rolling.

There are very many lessons to be learned from the WHHA/PCHA farce, and hopefully, Camden will set the agenda reasonably wide so that the whole situation can be looked into fully.

 

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"SECRET REPORT HIDES £8M DEBT". CAMDEN NEW JOURNAL. 11TH OCT. By Lee Gordon.

A major front page lead on this "Alice in Wonderland" debacle. Available free here and there, as you know, and of course, in all Camden libraries.

More soon.

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TENANTS' DEPUTATION TO CAMDEN COUNCIL. 10TH OCT.

About a dozen representatives of shortlife tenants presented a deputation to the new-style Executive Committee of the London Borough of Camden at the Town Hall.

The reason for this drastic move was that they discovered, by accident, that WHHA/PCHA are attempting to sell houses that have been bought from Camden at a discount and done up largely with taxpayers' money in order to bail themselves out of the financial mess that they are now in, which has, it is believed, become three times worse since PCHA moved in last February. And, to add insult to injury, WHHA/PCHA want Camden to waive a clause which says that if they were to sell such property, some of the discount should ber paid back.

The official papers say that between 20 - 35 properties may need to be sold in the end.

The delegation asked that tenants be consulted since WHHA's consultation effort, (the Weekes Meetings, now cancelled by Mr. Tony Hall, Deputy Director of Development, PCHA) although valuable, was very restricted, and PCHA's consultation totally non existent despite the Housing Corporation's order in their Section D8).

The new Executive Member for Housing, Councillor Brian Weekes, agreed that tenants would be consulted before and after the handling of the last block of Camden shortlife houses, i.e. where most of us now live. This is excellent news, and tenants can assure Mr. Weekes that they can bring to the table major benefits, housing gain and savings for him by re-routing waste and introducing creative new attitudes.

More on this story soon.

 

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"WHO WILL RID US OF THESE ACCURS'T FOOLS?"

 PCHA's mathematicians have a strange relationship with their numbers, quite apart from their accountants' inability to offer a set of accounts for the year ending March 2001.

At the moment, a tenant is taking them to court for gross disrepairs. Leise Wilson, represented by the legendary Bindman and Partners, is talking roof and floor issues, involving pigeons, rats and so on. PCHA (or WHHA) have estimated essential repairs at £4,000, and the tenants' surveyor has suggested nearer to £12,000.

The legal costs for the tenant are estimated to end up at about £15,000 to £25,000, and it is a fair bet that PCHA's bill will be about the same. The tenant in question is regarded generally as a perfect example of a pre 1989 secure tenant, and is likely to win. Needless to say her tenancy assessment, as demanded by the Housing Corporation's troubleshooter, Mr. Greg Lomax, has not been done. If it had, there wouldn't be a court case.

If they lose, they will pick up both sets of costs, and so they are gambling around £50,000 of our rent money to save, by their reckoning, £4,000.

The house is owned by Camden but the work has to be done sometime. And the sooner it is done, the less it will cost. "A stitch in time ..." seems too advanced a concept for PCHA who have in assets a thousand million pounds or Camden who have money to spend at the moment.

Tenants should note that you do not have to be unemployed to be able to get legal aid. There is a contribution scheme for those on lower incomes. If, after removing the costs like rent, child care, travel, dependents, tax, N.I. contributions, council tax, you have only £2,767 per year left, you pay nothing. And up to £8,196 left, there is a sliding scale of contributions payable. And if you win, you will get it back. As for savings, if you have £3,000 or less, it doesn't count. And there is an arrangement for those with savings up to £6,750.

From a pool of 300 properties, PCHA (WHHA) have 30 disrepair cases going on at the moment. To quote, or maybe misquote Shakespeare:

"Who will rid us of these accurs'd fools?"

 

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PCHA's 68 YEAR OLD WIDOW IS OUT. 6TH AUGUST.

Tom Maybank's widow, Janda, is out of his flat. As reported below, she received a string of nasty letters from the housing association, and the flat has now joined the massive pool of empty flats that PCHA/WHHA seems to see as necessary.

They will lose rent on an uninhabitable dwelling which will deteriorate further and probably cause problems for others living in the house. And all to provide temporary accommodation which is not of an adequte standard for a housing programme which has gone bust.

Special additional note: October 11th 2003. The flat is still empty. Apart from buying some day old chicks and stamping on them, what could PCHA do for an encore?

 

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PCHA's ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING. 26th July.

 

The A.G.M. of PCHA's shareholders took place today in Kilburn. A leaflet consisting of four recent press cuttings was prepared, and the Company Secretary, Ms. Sandra Raine, was asked if they could be distributed to those who had already arrived.

She refused to allow this, although a few went to late comers as they arrived..

The entire A.G.M. was held in secret, and this was rigorously enforced by Ms. Raine and her staff. That a registered social landlord can be allowed by the Housing Corporation to behave like this is surprising: but what is more strange is why they should bother to do so. It is reminiscent of the WHHA shareholders meeting in the spring which was as dull as it was secret.

However, any member of the public can ask for a free copy of their annual accounts, and if you would like one, their phone number is 020-8537 4537.

 

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C.N.J. 19TH JULY. "PENNILESS WIDOW FACES LIFE ON STREETS".

The Camden New Journal features an article by Lee Gordon on Mrs. Maybank and a photograph of her with the Notice to Quit sent to her by Paddington Churches. See below for futher details and for what jokingly passes for a justification from PCHA.

 

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EVICTING A 68 YEAR OLD - PCHA's JUSTIFICATION

 

 

A statement from PCHA's Press Office - Ms J. McGuire.

Tel: 020-537 4537. 

Mrs Maybank has lived abroad for several years. She returned to this country following her husbandís death. As she was not living at the flat when Mr. Maybank died, she has no legal right to remain there.

 

We have a number of long standing WHHA residents who urgently require rehousing and it would be unfair to them if we were to lose the opportunity to recover this flat.

 

Mrs Maybank has approached Camden Council about rehousing. We have advised her that she should ensure that the Council is fully aware of any medical problems that she may have, as these are likely to influence whether the Council will be able to assist her.

 

 

Notes from the T.A.

"Mrs. Maybank has lived abroad ... ".

What has this got to do with the case? Is PCHA calling her some sort of Johnny Foreigner? This comment looks like cheap tabloid xenophobia, and is irrelevant. (Also, see below for story).

 

"We have a number of long standing WHHA residents who urgently require rehousing"

They are not residents, Ms McGuire, they are tenants, and mostly 1977 Rent Act tenants at that. They will only require rehousing if you send them Notices to Quit. You are obliged BY LAW to keep their homes in proper order. Kindly do so.

 

" .. it would be unfair to them if we were to lose the opportunity to recover this flat".

No it wouldn't. Mrs. Maybank's flat was abandoned by Camden as unfit in the late '70s. At the moment it is not suitable for reletting for any purpose. The flat is scheduled for a major rehabilitation in a couple of years time. PCHA cannot recoupe the cost of making it immediately useable with the rent reclaimed in those two years. Do your sums, Ms. McGuire.

 

"Mrs. Maybank has approached Camden Council about rehousing".

Well, this, at least, is true. What is also true is that Camden have refused to rehouse her, and that PCHA knew this when they sent her their eviction papers.

 

 

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Housing Today: 12th July. "Shortlife fears at West Hampstead".

 

Click for the text of the full report.

 

Comment

There is uncertainty about the rule system, and the reason for a rather strange large capital "T" printed beside the name of every tenant on the list of WHHA shareholders. The belief is that there are classes of voters, and tenants fall in a class. For this reason, they are distinguished by this "T". The Chair, Richard Parkhill, was asked to run two votes - one as he saw the situation, and one as we did, i.e. with the class catagory.

He refused.

"The number of tenant shareholders will be reviewed ... ". Maybe it will, and maybe it won't - but either way, it will be too late, won't it, Ms PCHA spokeswoman.

"Shortlife tenants will be further consulted ... ". It is not possible for PCHA to further consult, until they consult for the first time. There has been no consultation of any type. Certainly, meetings were held to inform tenants of what has happened, and of what was to take place. There was no consultation.

PCHA have explained away the massive increase of shareholders, chosen from their own people, (which actually took place when they arrived in February 2001) by saying that the skills base of the shareholders needed to expanded. But the shareholders don't do anything from one year to the next.  They aren't even allowed to discuss the accounts at their own AGM. Why should PCHA feel a need for "sufficient skills amongst the shareholders"?

 

 

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PCHA to evict 68 year old widow onto the streets. 6th July.

In a most extraordinary move, PCHA, as WHHA's management agents, have just served (6th July) formal eviction papers to the widow of Tom Maybank who they full well know will not qualify to be housed by the council.

What is so staggering about the foolishness of this decision is that everybody loses:

1. PCHA loses. The flat is due for refurbishment in around two to three years. It cannot be relet since it is in such bad condition that the cost would not be recouped. PCHA/WHHA have many flats in this state. They get abandoned or squatted. Before their decision, PCHA stood to receive in rent 125% of what Camden charge for fully rehabbed premises.

2. Janda Maybank, Tom's widow, loses. She thought she had the right to continue, wants to stay in the community, and abandoned her place sharing with her sister. She hoped to stay on in her late husband's home as an insecure tenant, and to put up with the poor conditions.

3. Camden Council loses. Flats lived in get looked after.

4. The taxpayer loses. When this flat gets its major refit, it is will certainly have deteriorated very substantially indeed. Empty flats always do.

Peter Rutherford, the T.A. chair, said: "I can't climb into these officials' brains anymore. It is a strange and hazardous place. Maybe they are just nuts. That would explain a lot of things."

We will keep you posted on this story. (Special note: October 11th 2003. The flat is still empty).

 

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S.G.M: Tenants defeated by strangers.

The Shareholders Special General Meeting voted overwhelmingly to change our rules and enter the Genesis Group.

In a crowded room filled with complete outsiders, people who have nothing to do with us or West Hampstead made the decision which may possibly have a disastrous effect on the lives of shortlifers.

The "Top table" featured PCHA's Chief Executive, Anu Vedi, who was bounded on his left by Tom McGregor, Director of Contracts and Regeneration, and Elaine Allen, who may or may not be the Chief Executive of WHHA. On his right were Richard Parkhill, Chair of WHHA's Management Board, and Chair of the meeting, and Sandra Raine, company Secretary of Genesis, PCHA and WHHA. She was taking the minutes of the meeting for the record.

Peter Rutherford commented: "Out of all those faces, there were 5 people who have something to do with WHHA. The rest might just as well have been picked out of a cinema audience in Deptford, and bussed in for the occasion. But they, along with the postal voters, have made the decision."

Tenants were never just committed to a "No" vote. In our handout, we asked for a "No" vote at the moment. Let PCHA get WHHA on an even keel, put in some improvements, particularly in their policy towards people, and then, we say, lets have another vote.

A shareholder asked what would happen if WHHA became insolvent. Mr. Parkhill spoke of disposal of assets etc but failed to say what Mr. McGregor had told tenants at a previous meeting, namely that the Housing Corporation would step in for the second time, and repeat the process. Mr. Julian Ashby, a housing consultant with H.A.C.A.S. retained to advise WHHA's board, was asked about this, and said that the position was not very clear. It hasn't happened before. Leases would fall down, he said. He added that WHHA had a lot of assets but much less than the liabilities. [This is at variance with the opinion expressed by a well placed source who said that WHHA has far more assets than liabilities]

Lenders were talked about. Private sector leasing is in a catastrophic state, we are told, and leaking money everywhere. Mr. Parkhill said that PCHA could not be expected simply to pick it up and merge it with their own. But this is likey to happen under the Beechwood banner in due course, we were told. [Do they mean Beechwood or Beechers Brook?]

A Housing Corporation "contribution to eliminate losses" was mentioned.

In an extraordinary exchange, the chair, Mr. Parkhill was asked what the extent WHHA's losses are, and said that it was not known. He was allowed a range of 300% to estimate the position and said that he could not. He added that the March 2001 accounts could not be put together. In a careful exchange, he made it absolutely clear to the meeting that this was due to the situation existing in the books (and not due to pressure of work and priorities etc).

If, after being around since the turn of the year, and totally in charge for well over four months, from 12th Feb., PCHA do not even know how much money WHHA owes, how can they be able to manage this housing association?

Is the Housing Corporation able to rectify the effects of its lack of proper regulation over the past years?

Is the National Audit Office aware of what has happened and what is continuing to go on?

There was talk of treating tenancy and housing types separately. Anu Vedi said that private sector leasing, permanent and shortlife could not be separated. But he did not say why. Mr. Ashby said that all three catagories lose money. (With 92 members of staff earning around £100 per day to run, and run badly, an organisation of 3,100 people, what do you expect, Mr. Ashby? Please don't sound so surprised. Pretty much nothing goes to our broken roofs and ceilings.)

Anu Vedi was asked what benefits accrued to PCHA tenants as a result of joining Genesis. We were told that they were closer to their tenants now, and had created five working parties. Wow.

A shareholder asked what the role of the auditors was in the WHHA debacle since the difficulties had clearly been building over many years. Mr. Parkhill replied that he had not the slightest intention to say anything at all on that matter.

Much of the discussion was, at times, bitter. On one occasion, Mr. McGregor was asked to confirm or deny the now famous Lomax Declarations (or click this), and he confirmed them. Peter asked that the minute taker, the Company Secretary, Sandra Raine, record this clearly for the minutes, and the Chair, Richard Parkhill refused to allow this to happen.

"This is what we are up against", said Peter. "And they expect trust and respect".

When the matter of the vote on whether we change the rules to allow us to join Genesis came up, two tenants demanded the right to a class vote under Paragraph C5.2 of the Options Section, the tenants being in a separate class, and being marked with a large "T" in the shareholders list as a result. The Chair, Mr. Parkhill, refused this, and furthermore, denied the request that the vote be conducted twice, once as normal, and again using the class vote procedure just in case his ruling was overturned at a later stage. (The purpose of the class vote idea is to ensure that one interest group, for instance, the PCHA club, does not swamp another interest group, for instance, the tenants, who may have quite different proirites. This voting system requires that both groups would have to have a majority in favour for the resolution to be passed. What happened, in actuality, is exactly what the class method was set up to avoid; the tenants group was crushed by the sheer bulk in numbers of the others)

At the count, Peter offered to assist in verification. A very large number of postal votes were received. He asked that he check that the signatures on the returned forms matched the signatures on file of the shareholders. Peter also asked for photocopies of the returned forms for him to take away and check later if necessary.

Mr. Parkhill refused both requests, telling him that he must trust them.

 

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PCHA: Its official: Every promise broken.

At a meeting in February with the Housing Corporation's troubleshooter, Mr. Greg Lomax, a whole set of agreements were made and very clearly set out for the incoming PCHA officials, Mr. Tom McGregor and Ms. Elaine Allen.

Amongst many, these included the folowing points:

1. Standard of service will now be PCHA standards.

2. All positions of leadership are PCHA appointees.

3. Incumbant WHHA managers and workers will have to "prove" themselves to PCHA managers.

4. Board meeting on Tuesday 20 February 2001, to be precursor to SGM to vote the issue.

5. Board to be appointed by Genesis board.

6. Letters to be sent out to permanent and S.L. property tenants confirming status and rights.

7. Law person looking at each individual file - an open process. Tenants to be informed.

8. If in doubt, WHHA to decide in favour of individual.

9. GL said that in some cases, WHHA will tell their lawyers what to say to them.

10. No desire to welch on legal responsibilities.

11. No desire to welch on moral responsibilities.

12. Situation raised of WHHA SL tenants in non-LBC owned properties - (i.e. those in Kentish Town, Railtrack and NCR usually ex Camden).

13. Shortlife rents to be put into a separate account; TMcG affirmed.

14. WHHA PSL may not be salveable. Bad contract in first place.

15. Housing Corporation could find extra money in view of situation. GL says this is a possibility. PCHA has staff who are good at this.

And there were many other issues.

With the departure of Mr. Lomax, tenants have attempted to have this meeting minuted, and although one letter from Elaine Allen said that she was in broad agreeement, a following letter has refused to confirm these points, or provide an alternative account. At the Shortlife meeting on May 22nd., Mr Tom McGregor refused to be bound by these decisions. He is now denying the statement : "We will err on the side of generosity ... " and also "Where there is discretion, we will err on the side of the tenant".

PCHA have broken every promise and undertaking made - bar none.

 

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Shareholders mislead by Chair's letter and enclosures.

In a letter to all shareholders dated 25th May 2001, the Chair of WHHA Ltd., Mr. Richard Parkhill, says:

Para 6. Re. implications of not joining the Genesis Group: "We are particularly concerned about the possible implications for our residents .... this would be a personal tragedy for them". This implies that a "No" vote might put tenants out into the streets. However, at the Permanent Tenants Meeting, in reply to the question of what happens if there is a "No" vote, PCHA's man in charge, Mr. Tom McGregor , said that the Housing Corporation would have to go back to square one, and said that they had powers to enforce changes, make a transfer, over ride shareholders, and move assets to another housing association. This is not the same as Mr. Parkhill's statement.

 

"Questions and Answers".

In his enclosed sheets, labelled as above, under paragraph 7, Mr. Parkhill says that three evening consultation meetings were held.

Tenants have NOT been consulted in any way, shape or form at any point. These meetings were to inform tenants of what has happened, and of what PCHA intended to do in the future. Tenants were not asked about what alternatives they would like to see, and PCHA were not interested in our views. Mr McGregor made it clear that consultation was not required.

Para 11 is not consistent with what Mr. Parkhill says in his covering letter. (See above).

PCHA have deliberately refused to discuss and consult with Shortlife tenants, and the papers sent to you have many unanswered questions.

If you are a shareholder, please turn up and ask them what, in detail, they intend to do, and instruct that whatever they say at this meeting is binding. Tenants are not necessarily against the "Yes" vote, but they do want assurances that PCHA do not intend to lighten the boat by cutting our throats and throwing us overboard.

At the moment, evidence in five cases suggests that that is what they may have in mind.

 

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WHHA's future: Shareholders decide - 25th June.

At 6.30pm this coming Monday, 25th June, WHHA's shareholders will decide whether or not WHHA joins the Genesis Housing Group. This decision is not just a matter of coming or going. It will have a major effect on our housing and our lives.

If you are a shareholder, please turn up and vote. Tenants have not been consulted about these plans. They have been invited to meetings where they have simply been told what has happened and what will happen. We are not necessarily against the proposal. It is just that we see no answers to questions and no assurances about how we will be treated.

SHAREHOLDERS' SPECIAL MEETING:

Monday 25th June.

Kilburn Housing Co-op,

Kilburn Square, NW6 6PR.

Time: 6.30pm. Click here for a map

  

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TOM MAYBANK. R.I.P. 

It is with great sadness that the T.A. must announce Tom's death. He attended many of our meetings since the T.A. was formed in the middle of the nineties, and, at 73 years old when he died, was always seen as our respected elder father.

He lived just south of the old John Barnes in N.W.6. for years and years in a fairly typical crumbling shortlife flat about which he never complained. As an artist, he probably lived a slightly bohemian lifestyle, which may be why he got on well with us youngsters in our fifties, and turned up for so many occasions, including the recent meeting with Greg Lomax in December. The Housing Corporation's troubleshooter must have been taken aback to see someone of Tom's advanced years not only living in shortlife, but actively working and lobbying for our cause.

Although they were separated, Tom stayed on good terms with his wife, Janda, who has returned to England to sort out his affairs, with the intention of remaining in London. Tom's sudden heart attack took everyone by surprise, and most especially his wife and family. Janda has, needless to say, received a letter from the Housing Association telling her to empty the flat and hand in the keys. Since the building is due for refurbishing fairly soon and is totally unfit for reletting, this seems puzzling. I am sure that I can speak for every tenant when I say that we hope that Janda and all of Tom's paintings will be allowed to stay until the time when the house is readied for the builders.

We have lost an old friend and a good friend, and extend our most sincere sympathies to his wife and his family.

 

Peter Rutherford. Chair, Tenants Association.

 

  

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MEETING NO. 3. MAY 24 - TEMPORARY. YOU NEED THE TOOLS TO DO THE JOB.

 

This was a messy event - the wrong place, inadequate notice, not enough time. Only about 1 in 100 turned up, and they were understandably upset about poor maintenance standards.

When asked when maintence was going to be got right, the chair of the meeting, Tom McGregor, said "a very long time". When pushed further, this became "about a year". (But commonsense would suggest that either the tools are brought to the task or they are not. The job needs expert staff who give PCHA a shopping list of requirements, and these must be supplied. Nothing else is going to solve the problem of such neglect).

Mr. Mc Gregor stressed that PCHA were currently managing, and only managing WHHA properties whilst talks continue with a view to WHHA entering the Genesis Group, a group consisting of PCHA, Sutherland (a self build organisation) and WHHA, renamed as Beechwood. (See below for more on this).

As expected, he went on the blame WHHA's computer system. (This is a system which we have known to be faulty for a year or so. PCHA have been running us for over three months now, and we should ask when they are going to get on top of this problem).

On the subject of the Complaints procedure, the fifth level is an approach to a committee which does not exist. He refused to say that either this level is scrapped or that the Management Board should be used instead. There is no fifth, and therefore any subsequent stages, it would seem. Since the first three stages are entirely in the control of the Association, and the fourth often gets ignored, the whole set up can be quite futile. (Maybe the best solution is to write directly to the Ombudsman if the mediation stage is unsuccessful, explain the situation, and ask for advice).

But maintence ruled the day. The meeting started ten minutes late, at 7.25pm and was set to finish at the ridiculously early hour of 8.15pm. Considerable rudeness from Mr. McGregor greeted the suggestion that he get a move on because his delayed start would cut into people's discussion time at the end of the meeting in just 50 minutes time.

What happened was exactly that: there was not enough time for those who wanted to deal with issues to get them discussed. And there were plenty of those.

No doubt some of the problems have been written down on pieces of paper. Whether anything more happens depends upon whether PCHA intends to put to the task the resources necessary.

They may yet go or get kicked out. At the moment, they are the Managing Agents - that's all. Come on lads, that's your job - getting repairs done - getting the books right - cutting out dead wood - not handing back houses, evicting old timers and getting into schemes that you may not be around to see through.

 

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MEETING NO. 2. MAY 23 - PERMANENT. SO MANY COMPLAINTS: THEREFORE, IGNORE THEM.

 

The meeting's chair, Tom McGregor (see below: Meeting No. 1 for background information) did the usual explanation of Genesis, and in answer to a question on complaints, replied that there were so many that they have decided to handle a few and ignore the rest.

Is that the last strand of accountability broken?

At the January Reconvened AGM, the Housing Corporation's troubleshooter, Greg Lomax promised a full, thorough and open inquiry. Mr.McGregor is refusing this. He repeated that no tenant of any type will have their tenancy affected in any way if WHHA were to enter the Genesis Group. The idea is that permanent housing will be managed by PCHA but will continue to be owned by WHHA. There will not be parity of rents with PCHA people in similar property. We will continue to pay considerably more. This is because of WHHA's debts "challenge", and the need to maintain separate accounts. (He didn't explain why this would be necessary if we enter).

On the subject of maintenance, he promised equality of service with PCHA tenants. There will be no differentiation between the two. There may be a need to raise some money to meet repair obligations on some houses. This will be done by borrowing against ALL the houses, and not by borrowing against a particular house. This is so that in the event of trouble with a lender, the whole housing stock would be at risk rather than any individual tenant in any individual house.

What's in it for Genesis? The hope is that PCHA will turn around WHHA's temporary housing and make it pay. When asked about the possibility of our permanent stock moving to PCHA, he said that that would need a vote from tenants.

On the subject of what might happen if WHHA shareholders vote against coming into the Genesis Group, Mr McGregor was less than forthcoming. He suggested that the Housing Corporation would have to go back to square one, and said that they had powers to enforce changes, make a transfer, over ride shareholders, move assets to another housing association. Draconian stuff.

In the meanwhile, PCHA's answer to a mountain of complaints is to place them in a cool dark spot and walk quietly away.

 

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MEETING NO. 1. MAY 22 - SHORTLIFE. IS ANYONE IN CHARGE?

There was a noisy and vigorous meeting of around forty shortlifers. The Chair of the meeting, Tom McGregor, got off to a tricky start by saying that this was not a Section D8 (or G4) consultation meeting as this was not necessary. He said that neither we, nor the shareholders at the end of June, would be consulted over alternatives - just one proposal, and that's that. And that is that WHHA joins the Genesis Group, a group comprising of PCHA and a very small housing association called Sutherland, specialising in "shared ownership". (For details, see earlier reports). He admitted that it was he personally who made the decision to get involved with WHHA.

Mr. McGregor said that there were two main issues: first, the nature of our tenancies and secondly the state of our homes. Tenants complained that the first matter has still not been analysed, despite promises, and he issued further promises to get a full survey done. On the second matter, he said that three options are being looked at:

1. Obtain funds from the Housing Corporation and Camden to do up the houses with us to be shuffled about. (What does that mean?).

2. Camden to seek competitive tenders from other housing associations to take on the task.

3. Camden to do the work themselves with their funds.

In the case of options 2 and 3, he did not make clear how our position would be affected. He refused to allow tenants to be represented at his meetings with Camden.

He guaranteed that if WHHA enters the Genesis Group, the legal position of WHHA tenants would remain unaltered. A manager is being appointed to negotiate with Railtrack and other housing suppliers for leases.

PCHA are only management agents. He accepted that they might get given the boot at the Shareholders General Meeting, and yet, despite the fact that they are not a fixture, they appear to have the right to come in, make far reaching decisions about us and our homes, and evict people.

In an exchange which owed much to "Alice in Wonderland", but with rather less sense, Mr. McGregor announced that WHHA were not issuing any Notices To Quit. Two tenants then revealed that they had recently received NTQs. This would have phased a lesser man, but he took this in his stride, and then categorically refused to put a stop to the issuing of any more. Is the man a liar? Probably not. But then, if he isn't, then he is not in charge. Who is?

Blimey.

He was asked about Mr. Lomax's directions that WHHA will err on the side of the tenant, not welch on moral responsibilities etc. etc. He refused to honour these decisions.

However, in an aside to Peter Rutherford, at the end of the meeting, on the subject of their assessing of tenants' various legal positions, he did make very clearly and for the record the following statement: "We will err on the side of generosity ... where there is discretion, we will err on the side of the tenant".

 But the bottom line must be that little was achieved. Maybe that was their prime objective. The building, start time, duration were wrong. They spent an eternity rambling on about their Housing Group when three posters stuck on the wall would have sufficed, and cut the meeting short when few tenants had had their issues touched on, let alone properly tackled.

 

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HOUSING OFFICER COMES AND ANOTHER GOES.

A new housing officer, Ms. Sandra Martin, will start this Monday, 21st May.

According to the newly appointed Tenant Liaison Officer, Rebecca Ledger, (her office number is 020-7691 5404), "Ms. Lisa Watson will very shortly be leaving the employ of WHHA ... to this end, the formal complaint levied against her will not be pursued".

In your dreams, Ms. Ledger.

Nothing will change unless formal complaints are followed all the way through the procedure, to mediation, Management Board and then to the Independent Housing Ombudsman. Only then is there any hope of alteration in the relevant Policy and Procedure.

 

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BBC RADIO 4. "ANY ANSWERS". 12th MAY. T.A.'s CHAIR SPEAKS OUT.

Full report.

In answer to a question during the "Any Questions" programme on whether petrol tax should go up or government expenditure come down, Peter Rutherford, the T.A.'s chair, said that neither need happen. If we attack wastage, then we can have our cake and eat it. He went on to propose a Wastage Czar, sited possibly in the offices of the National Audit Office. This Czar would have a team of accountants and various commonsense people, and anyone could apply.

Mr. Dimbleby then said that the N.A.O. already has the power to inspect the books of all public sector operators.

"Not so", said Peter. He went on to say that the N.A.O. have been trying to get from the Housing Corporation the accounts of Focus Housing Association. Despite the fact that two of their directors are actually in prison, the N.A.O. has been prevented from doing so.

Technically, it is easy. Key data could be transmitted by phone overnight but the willingness is not there. The Corporation does not appear to have control over its 2000 housing associations

Jonathan Dimbleby asked him if this could end up as another layer of bureaucracy, but Peter urged the measure to curb massive wastage, siting the conversation of one-bed flats into family homes, and just down the road, family homes into on-bed flats and our current building project, the Messina 7. He estimated that as much as 75% of the money spend may be being spent unnecessarily.

Mr. Dimbleby agreed on two occasions that the idea was interesting.

 

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CORPORATE SYPHILIS?

 

Is PCHA/WHHA suffering from the madness of the final stages? A team of medico-commercial experts is studying a letter from the Regional Manager to the chair of the T.A., Peter Rutherford.

He went to court in December 1998 along with the other "Messina 7" people, and asked for one flat over another because the first wasn't allocated and because it had a cellar. "Nobody seems to want cellars these days. This one's not big, but good for hammering, sawing, gluing and making a noise", said Peter.

The matter of the type of his tenancy agreement has not been settled to everyone's satisfaction, and against this background, WHHA are now saying that the cellar will be the subject of a separate agreement.

Undoubtedly, PCHA have set aside a generous budget of tenants' rent money for lawyers to establish whether the cellar should have a secure or assured tenancy, and to look into the implication of Bruton v. London & Quadrant since the cellar might attract one of the director's mysterious "Bruton Tenancies", a concept whose roots seem shrouded in secrecy. At the forthcoming tenants' meetings Ms. Elaine Allen may wish to explain why this is so.

Apparently, garages are subject to this sort of arrangement, and Sunita thinks that cellars and garages are the same.

Peter commented: "Of course you could park a car in a four four wide cellar. Getting it down the steps will be a valuable challenge, and putting it on its side not without problems, but it can be done. How could I not have thought of that all by myself?"

Gordon Bennet.

 

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RATHER TOO LATE: WHHA DECIDES TO SET MEETINGS FOR TENANTS.

All tenants should have received from Ms. Elaine Allen, director of WHHA, an invitation to one of three meetings to be held on:

Tues. May 22nd. 6.30pm. Short-life tenants.

Wed. May 23rd. 6.30pm. Permanent and Supported tenants.

Thurs. May 24th. 7.15 pm.Temporary housing tenants

at Swiss Cottage Library, N.W.3. (Click here for a map)

WHHA's crisis is now a year old, and tenants must be delighted that someone is going to talk to them for the first time. However, if this is to be the consultation that the Housing Corporation commands them to do (see section D8), then it is almost certainly far too late for us to be given an "opportunity to exercise genuine influence" on the result; and this is what the Corporation requires.

i.e. these meetings are a sop to the Housing Corporation.

That does not mean that tenants should not turn up. We may well learn quite a lot, and it will give those who attend a chance to give these officials the direct, no messing and straightforward feedback that they so desperately need even if they don't want it.

Are they scared of us?

 

Travel and child minding costs.

In her letter to the T.A.'s chair, Peter Rutherford, dated 8th May 2001, the director of WHHA, Elaine Allen, says:

"Any reasonable claim for travel expenses and child minding expenses from tenants wishing to attend the meeting will be met".

Why didn't you say so in the circular, Ms Allen? Why did you give tenants only two weeks warning; why have you set the meeting at a time ridiculously early for so many people, and why have you not included one grand meeting for all tenants as promised by the Housing Corporation's troubleshooter, Mr. Greg Lomax?

And why are you not reimbursing on the night, as in the past? We don't all earn £200 per day for every day actually worked, as did your predecessor, Anna Bowman, and as you probably do too, Ms. Allen. 

 

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ITV SLAMS WHHA FOR ITS DANGEROUS GAS POLICY.

"The Property Show". Carlton TV. 7.30pm. Thursday 3rd May. In a damning indictment of WHHA, Mira Bar-Hillel spoke of a landlord's legal obligation to test gas every year, and said that someone dies roughly every week from poorly maintained gas pipes and equipment. She added that when PCHA took over as management agents three months ago, they found no comprehensive gas policy in place and have taken steps.

Leise Wilson, a tenant of 17 years, pointed out that WHHA's practice had been to carry away faulty equipment leaving people to freeze in these crumbling houses.

Mira added that tenants should demand to see a valid Gas Safety Certificate, and warned of the dangers of carbon monoxide, a gas which is colourless and odourless. Many do not understand the problem until it is too late. (See below)

 

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SHAREHOLDERS MEETING - MOSTLY HOT AIR. Wed. 25th Apr.

You didn't miss much except for the seafood sandwiches which were made with white bread on one side and brown on the other. Presumably some sort of equal opportunities statement.

The meeting was billed as informal and had no agenda. In reality, an agenda was imposed by PCHA's Sandra Raine (company secretary) and Tom McGregor (director of tempory housing). They were clearly acting against the wishes of most people who wanted to talk about what they felt mattered.

The "Who's is Charge" issue is now slightly more muddy. Sandra Raine now denies her "Elaine Allen is General Manager" statement (see below). Ms. Allen is now acting director responsible to Tom McGregor at PCHA. But she is not our Chief Executive.

Tom McG is clearly the boss. Why doesn't he just say so? [Possibly because he may not want his name painted on the stern of a ship which is sinking with her on the bridge and him on the shore - Ed.]

Ms Allen said that she is working on expenditure controls, gas safety, staffing issues (redundancies: the union is being informed) and safety matters about the Grangeway offices. (Couldn't Anna Bowman even make WHHA's own premises safe? Presumably this was a "Solidarity with the tenants" matter).

Maintenance is being unified at one location, NW6. Tottenham premises to go. The building should raise £1M.

Improvements have been made with void levels and rent arrears.

Genesis to be launched in three weeks. Now they tell us that it doesn't even exist at the moment. Tom McGregor was asked when they were going actually to do the deal and merge or whatever. Much waffling about prioritising this and that etc. They are not going to tell us.

The computer system comes in for more flak. They say that "the data is poor". Can anyone shed any light on that?

Shortlife tenants are to get their legal tenancy position sorted. Hang on, haven't we heard that before? But people are still being given Notices to Quit. We ask for a moratorium until things are clarified. Tom McGregor refused. Could this wanton and foolhardy waste of money on lawyers be actionable?

They are meeting with Camden about the short-life Camden 68 project for the bulk of the remaining houses (21) and are putting together several ideas. Then they will consult with us to gather in more proposals before a decision is made. Tom McG was asked to accept in the clearest possible terms that those in these houses live there; and that the buildings will, if possible, be done up around them, but at least for them.

He huffed and puffed and wouldn't.

A tenant Management Board appointee to the old WHHA board, David Curry, said that he wanted it known that this board did not resign as has been reported; it was sacked. (Who has the power to sack a board? The shareholders, probably, but who else? Who, then, did sack it?)

PCHA's proposal to Camden for New Court is "broadly similar" to the previous proposal. When asked to confirm this for the purposes of utmost clarity, we got the waters muddied. There is now doubt as to what PCHA have been suggesting to Camden about New Court.

Sandra Raine was asked to publish the minutes of WHHA Board meetings. She simply refused.

Michael Napier pointed out that very soon, she will be needing the shareholders votes. She replied in an oily fashion: "But really, don't we both need each other?".

Now, there's a debate.

If PCHA don't get the 75% of shareholders votes that they need for a rule change at the forthcoming shareholders meeting, Ms Raine said "We may just walk away". But Tom McGregor doubted that they would.

If they did, they would put the Housing Corporation in a strange position.

Only a dozen people turned up, and almost nothing heavy, new, controversial or politically sensitive was discussed, and so, the enduring question must be: Why did they generate so much bitterness by keeping the tenants out?

  

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MEETING - THIS TUESDAY - SHAREHOLDERS ONLY - ALL OTHERS ARE OUT. 20th April.

Continuing with the PCHA policy of open defiance to the Corporation's Section D8, in a letter dated 12th, postmarked 17th and which arrived on 18th, the secretary to the Genesis Group, Ms. Sandra Raine, invited shareholders to an informal meeting "as agreed at the AGM", to be held on 24th at 6.30pm in the Kingsgate Community Hall, Kingsgate Road, NW6.

There will be a list of shareholders at the door, and only those who are shareholders and who sign a document will be admitted. Others will be kept out.

Sandra Raine's letter says: "the situation in which WHHA finds itself necessitates a degree of urgency".

So, why is she arranging a meeting for 35 people and why are 3,100 shut out?

At the AGM, the regretfully departed Mr. Greg Lomax ( No, he hasn't died - just moved on - rather to early, in some people's opinion) proposed two meetings to cover the full body of tenants. The T.A. demanded one, and in a spirit of co-operation, a compromise was agreed, and that was that we would have three. The first, it was decided, would be for all tenants, and the second and third for those living in the western and eastern parts of the region in order to save on travelling.

None of these have been held. Ms. Raine has said that they will not be held. Instead, PCHA will hold three meetings for tenants segregated by tenancy type.

This is not what tenants want, and may even be illegal, immoral or improper.

Whatever happened to Mr. Lomax's decree that henceforth there would be a spirit of openness and transparency? In the tradition of GCHQ, even what PCHA's meeting will cover remains classified.

As the French would say: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

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WHO IS IN CHARGE?

 

PCHA says:

Elaine Allen. According to PCHA's Company Secretary, she is the General Manager.

 

WHHA says:

According to Ms. Allen, WHHA is run by a Committee of Management and she is merely a director.

 

Come on, PCHA: Get a grip.

 

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CAMDEN BAN US ... !

Would you Adam and Eve it?

Yes, if you try and keep up-to-date by using Camden's normally excellent and free Internet service in most local libraries, you will find this site blocked as if it were distributing sleazy porn.

"I asked what to do, and the library said to contact Leisure IT", said Peter Rutherford, the T.A. Chair, (remembering that a possible culprit, his piece on Rommel's potential role in social housing, has not even been completed, let alone uploaded to the site), "and so I did. Ms. Barbara Pettigrew was indifferent to the problem, and said that I should go back to the library, and fill in a complaints form. But that was not what the library said I should do. Ms. Pettigrew is in charge of this aspect of Camden's computer system, and it clearly does not work properly. It blocks any number of useful sites".

Your faithful webmaster has had his ear bent by Ms. Pettigrew's Boss, Ms. Christine Peacock. She has said that she is setting the Human Rights Act and Data Registration Act on him. Peter said: "I am a bit fed up with people using our money in this frivolous fashion. I think we know a lot about that through WHHA and now PCHA. However, in all fairness, I must point out that Ms. Pettigrew is not 'in charge of this aspect of Camden's system' as I suggested. Christine Peacock is. But when I spoke to Ms. Pettigrew, her boss was away for some days, and so, she was in charge.' It will be interesting to see what the Dogs of Law do.

In the meanwhile, whatever Ms Peacock has said about Camden not banning us, we are clearly banned, and it is software installed by them that is doing it.

Fear not, we are in good company. Amongst others, the European Convention on Human Rights is apparently also seen by Ms Peacock and/or her software as peddlers of filth. Also included are a firm which sells cheap toner cartridges for laser printers, spares for miniature steam engines and a site selling vitamin tablets.

 

POSTSCRIPT:

The European Convention ban was lifted on 28th April.

This site's ban was lifted on 3rd May.

 

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TENANTS: NEW RENT FORM ... WAIT ...

Have you just received a complex four page document including a "Landlord's Notice proposing a New Rent Under an Assured Periodic Tenancy or Agricultural Occupancy"?

We are not sure what this change is all about. Since most long term shortlifers are now Secure Tenants under the Housing Act 1988, it looks as if they have got it wrong yet again, and have wasted more tenants' rent money on their incompetent shenanigans.

The T.A. is getting legal advice. In the meanwhile, you are advised to do nothing.

 

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THEY'RE ON T.V. AGAIN ... COMING SOON!

Rather more than a year after the Haringay Cancer Scandal, the TV cameras are out again. Keep an eye out on Thursdays - 7.30pm - "The Property Show" - ITV. Following the piece by Mira Bar-Hillel in the Evening Standard, an item on the dangerous gas policy has been filmed, but we don't know which week it will be screened on. 

PCHA have been in charge for almost three months now, and have we noticed any difference? Maintenance is still a shambles, Housing Services is just the same and Development is a year behind doing up seven houses. (Going to court, agreeing consent orders, tearing up the drawings and redesigning many of the houses several times didn't speed things up).

Almost all the bigwigs are accountants, financiers or associated consultant type people; including the new Chair of WHHA's Management Board, Richard Parkhill, recently of Watson Wyatt and on PCHA's board. Certainly, we need a top flight accountant - nobody would deny that - and we have one in the form of the recently appointed Financial Controller. But we don't need a soccer team of them. Right now, we have enough to run the economies and tax systems of all South American countries or alternatively, Manchester United F.C.

Is PCHA incapable of finding anyone who can manage, and get a result?

 

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PCHA's ANU VEDI BACKS (OR DRIVES ON?) WHHA's DOUBLE DEALING.

Under the leadership of Mr. Greg Lomax, WHHA promised to inform tenants of their new status, where applicable, having examined the legal situation of each tenant separately in an open and transparent fashion. (see below).

Mr. Lomax has moved on, imagining, presumably, that his job with us was finished. What has happened is that many undertakings have been reneged on, and tenants are being given notices to quit as if the clock had been wound back three years. We are NOT being informed of our new rights, neither are we being sent copies of the Secure Tenants' Charter as required by the Housing Corporation.

The Chief Executive of PCHA, Mr. Anu Vedi, was asked to have a moratorium on "Notices Seeking Possession" until the position has been sorted.

Through the pen of one of his directors he refused.

 

The French have a proverb: The more that things change, the more they stay the same.

 

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TENANTS DENIED D8 RIGHTS: AND NOW "PARTNERSHIP BULLETINS".

Having systematically refused to obey Section D8 of the the Housing Corporation's "Performance Standards for RSLs", PCHA is refusing even to issue to tenants copies a fortnightly newsletter produced for WHHA staff and entitled "Partnership Bulletin".

PCHA and the Corporation have disenfranchised 97% of the people in WHHA.

Ms. Julie Hitchcock of PCHA's Human Resources department was asked for a copy of the bulletins, and said "No". Apparently it is produced for WHHA staff to talk them into staying [Are we merging with demented fools? - Ed.] and we are not to be allowed to see them.

Tenants are being treated as if they had no more rights than a yard of bricks. The Housing Corporation would do well to remember that about a year ago, they nearly lost their life. And their position comes up for review in only three years or so.

If they are wise, they will act.

 

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OPERATIONS DIRECTOR AND DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR TO GO.

A well placed source has told the T.A. that Asit Acharya, who took over as Operations Director from Ms. Eleanor Lohr in the Summer, is leaving. No reason has been given.

The same source said that Eamonn Pryle, a long standing official and Development Director is also going. Again, no reason was offered.

When confirmation was sought from the p.a to WHHA's new boss, Ms. Elaine Allen, there was a refusal to confirm or deny, and instead a referral was made to the Human Resources Department of PCHA who were not able to confirm or deny. They promised to come back with clarification but haven't.

Even the label of the post of Ms. Allen is uncertain. She was introduced to the Tenants' Meeting of 15th February (see below) as Anna Bowman's replacement (i.e. chief executive officer) but signs herself as, and is being referred to sheepishly as WHHA's director, as though there were only one (as in a charity or a theatre). Either she is C.E.O. or she isn't. And if she isn't, who, if anyone, is?

What a way to run a bun factory.

 

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THE MEETING: SUCCESSFUL ENCOUNTER. 15 Feb 2001.

 The meeting featured the outgoing temporary Interim General Manager, Mr. Greg Lomax, as well as WHHA's new Financial Controller, Steve Garvey, Tom McGregor, a top man from PCHA's Development team, and PCHA's Elaine Allen (now Sanders) who takes over from Anna Bowman as Chief Executive.

 Mr. Lomax has promised that WHHA "will not welch on its legal or moral responsibilities". Wow! moral! Could we ever have heard a statement like that from the previous administration? It has yet to be implemented, of course, but there seems to be a climate which could allow normal co-operation and all the attendant economies which that brings with it. He accepted that Camden and other borough long term shortlifers have been treated like four ounces of chopped liver. On the legal front, every person's tenancy position is being studied as a separate case, a process which is open. He said that when in doubt, the Association will err in favour of the individual.

All leadership positions in WHHA are held by PCHA people. Housing Services and Maintenance will run (eventually) to PCHA's standard rather than WHHA's.

Remember those half page ads in the Camden New Journal? The practice of acquiring houses in ropey condition from private landlords, dressing them up and putting them out, i.e. Private Sector Leasing, is successful for PCHA but has been a disaster for WHHA. WHHA have been paying landlords more than they have been receiving in rent from the residents as a result of bad initial contracts. Consequently, much of WHHA's P.S.L. business is not salvageable. However, PCHA's useful PSL business is to be moved to WHHA, and they will try to make the best of it all.

WHHA's Permanent housing will be moved to PCHA.

This leaves shortlife still in WHHA along with the PSL hotch potch, but it could be in a ringfenced financial structure, and a promise that shortlife rents could be kept separate in the accounts, and that we will have specialist staff.

 In the autumn, we almost went to the wall, due, Mr. Lomax alleges, to mismanagement on a grand scale. As a result of the departed directors mishandling of the Association's affairs, the Association is owed £1.5m by tenants who have left. Since there are 3,000 tenants in WHHA, this implies £500 per tenant. Other debts owing are far greater.

 What is to become of shortlife housing? Camden still wants to dispose of their buildings, and although they have said that they are refusing to sell any more to the old WHHA, they may work with WHHA 2 or whatever it may be renamed to. Mr. Lomax suggested that one of PCHA's top people was good at doing special deals with the Housing Corporation, and there may be possibilities for special arrangements. The Corporation will be reminded that they have always had staff breathing down WHHA's neck. That is what their Regulation Accountants are paid to do. Where have they been? Consequently, the possibility referred to above, namely that they will bail out the situation, is real.

 A Tenants' General Meeting (or meetings) will be held. When you get a letter inviting you, PLEASE COME ALONG. There is a debate as to where it should be held. In the past, Kingsgate Community Centre, Kingsgate Road, N.W.6. has been used (map of location). Should we have one meeting for everybody, or two, one for NW postcodes and another for Tottenham? Or both alternatives, i.e. three meetings in all? Let us know if you have special views.

 

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ITS DONE! WE JOIN THE GENESIS GROUP. (MAYBE). 12 FEB.

News has just come in to the tenants that the staff were told four days ago that WHHA is now a member of the Genesis Group. PCHA, the largest housing association in the group, are sending key workers to WHHA's Grangeway offices at the moment.

But why, if we are merely a member of this financial organisation called Genesis? We are being told that it is a merger, and it is not a merger. The position is not clear, but what is certain is that something very significant has happened.

At the reconvened A.G.M. in January,  Mr. Greg Lomax said that WHHA's solution was to join PCHA in the Genesis group structure, partly because PCHA is the only housing association to make a success of Private Sector Leasing (WHHA has 2,700 P.S.L. homes out of a total of 3,100). Mr. Lomax said "We have agreed to tango, but have not actually clutched yet".

It would appear that they have now.

Mr. Lomax's AGM speech last month continued with the information that there will be a new name for WHHA to emphasise the radically new type of organisation. "I am not trying to save 'the creature', only jobs, shortlife and P.S.L. homes", he said. No promises of job security to WHHA staff.

PCHA's PSL business will be moved to the new styled WHHA, and it is expected that WHHA's permanent housing stock will go to PCHA.

To the last, neither the Chief Executive of PCHA nor that of WHHA have allowed the Housing Corporation's Section D8 demand get in the way of their doing what they want behind closed doors. It is not that they haven't been keeping tenants up to date; they have been actively seeing to it that we are kept in the dark.

It is not healthy for quangos openly and arrogantly to be breaking their own regulations. How can they then have any authority to lay down the law on recalcitrant housing associations? Either Section D8 (2nd edition of "Performance Standards ...") means something or it doesn't. If it does, then it must be enforced by the Corporation. If it doesn't, then it must be repealed.

A vital question must be: How has Mr. Lomax described the tenancy position of the 100 or so tenants in Camden's shortlife properties? If he has used an opinion from his barrister, Terence Gallivan, then it could be that all will be well. If he has described them as they were described at the AGM in September, then there will be tears.

 

We'll bring you more as it comes in.

 

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MEETING FIXED - 8 FEB.

"In the last report, I seem to have jumped the gun", said Peter. "The next call to Mr. Lomax secured a meeting this coming Thursday at their offices".

This could be a useful opportunity.

 

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A.G.M. UPROAR. PROMISE OF NEW MEETING -UPDATE. 7 FEB.

When the A.G.M. descended into chaos (see item ), Mr Greg Lomax stepped in and offered to meet shareholders and tenants at a new meeting. He said that he was away the following day, Wednesday, but was in the day after.

He failed to set up a meeting on that day, or the next. The T.A.'s chair, Peter Rutherford, has rung his office three times and has had nothing but an answering machine.

"Tenants have good reason to feel let down by the housing industry's so-called professionals", said Peter. "First of all, we have the Housing Corporation and their Regulation Accountant sitting on the Board. What on earth was she doing all that time? Then we have their Section D8 being held in utter contempt. They haven't been very clever, with all their men and money. What is needed is some honest-to-goodness commonsense. What are they scared of?

Now we appear to have Mr. Lomax breaking his promise to shareholders at their AGM. They want that meeting now, not in three weeks or three years time. What is he scared of?"

And as for the National Audit Office, the Housing Corporation's boss, their job is to stop quangos like the Corporation from wasting taxpayers' money. Their letter of December shows them apparently content with the situation. Tenants have seen near bankruptcy, the disappearance of the two principal directors, a state of supervision, and four outside specialists put on the Management Board. Has the N.A.O. actually done anything? What has to happen for the N.A.O. to become alarmed and decree that at least lessons must be learned?

WHHA's trade union, the National Housing Federation, care even less. "Get behind your man", they say. But what is his agenda, Mr Coulter? Mr. Lomax has described us as unprofitable, as if a housing association were a car assembly plant (Dec 18). And we all know what accountants do with unprofitable sectors when planning mergers or "strategic alliances" or whatever other weasel words they want to use to call whatever it is that they are doing.

Does anyone out there care if civil servants are standing around a coke brazier shoveling Gordon Brown's fivers onto the burning coals?

 Watch this space. We will keep you posted.

  

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SUSPENDED DIRECTORS: THE RESULTS. 27th JAN. 2001

Tenants were told at the Reconvened AGM that Ms. Anna Bowman, the suspended Chief Executive "has left WHHA in strict compliance with her contract". The word "compromise" was used by Mr. Lomax in discussing the terms of her departure. Exactly, or even vaguely what this means is not clear. It may be that she has left with a sum of money which does not amount to a golden handshake. Maybe she hasn't. What we can be sure of is that if a sum was involved, it is either taxpayers' money or tenants' rent money.

The suspended Finance Director, Douglas Wilson, has been summarily dismissed. He is appealing the decision.

 

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 SUSPENDED DIRECTORS' HEARINGS HELD. JAN. 2001.

News has come in that the recently suspended Chief Executive, Ms. Anna Bowman, has had the hearing which will determine her future at WHHA. And so has the suspended Finance Director, Douglas Wilson.

Needless to say, tenants have not been told the results.

There is no confirmation of the belief that Douglas is appealing his decision. Neither is there confirmation or denial of the rumour that Anna is having a grand leaving party at the Tricycle Theatre this Friday evening.

Watch this space.

 

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 T. A. ELECTIONS. 27th JAN. 2001

At the closing time for submitting nominations, nobody had come forward to stand against the existing chair, Peter Rutherford.

He remarked: "Is the T.A. now a bit like WHHA in the late seventies and early eighties? I remember people like Paula Fraser trying to set up a T.A. and no one was interested. There was no point. We were, broadly speaking, happy with the Association. Hopefully, people feel the same way about the T.A. now. Personally, I think we have the best team that we have ever had."

On the subject of delegates to a negotiating team, we have exactly the right number, and so, no election is necessary. But we could do with a couple of extras for the substitutes' bench in case of injury. Please ring if you are interested.

The promised newsletter has been held back to include a report on Tuesday's important Reconvened AGM. 

 

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--- 2001 ---

 

 MERGER TALKS: PADDINGTON CHURCHES ARE THE ONLY RUNNER. DEC. 19TH.

A number of well placed sources have disclosed that at the Management Board Meeting of December 19th, Paddington Churches Housing Association was chosen as the main prospect for a merger. The rumoured alternative was Notting Hill Housing Trust.

PCHA have much studying to do, and may run away from the deal. But at the moment, WHHA is looking to join PCHA's group structure.

The staff have been informed, but needless to say, yet again, the tenants have not. We found out from numerous dependable sources which confirm the same consistent message.

We need to know how WHHA have described us to PCHA, who, also, need to know the realistic legal position of Camden shortlifers. See "Legal issues".

 

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 T.A. ELECTIONS. CHAIR AND NEGOTIATORS.

You should have received a newsletter about this. If you haven't, email us or ring one of the telephone numbers on your last T.A. newsletter. Nominations must be in by January 14th.

Election by January 26th.

 

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Meeting with Mr. Greg Lomax. Monday 18th Dec 2000.

About ten tenants met with four members of staff, including the new interim General Manager, Mr. Greg Lomax and the Financial Controller, Steve Garvey. Here are some shorthand notes:

On Mr. Lomax's arrival, WHHA appeared to be on the brink of trading insolvently. Assuming reasonable achievement in the area of recovering money owed, there should be funds to see the association and its activities through 7 - 8 months only, i.e. up to the end of July.

What happened to WHHA? A bit like the Roman Empire. It just got too big to be manageable by those involved. No suggestion of fraud. Poor systems and methods. Under resourced in the maintenance dept. ( Could we have told him that? Answers on a postcard, please.)

New Court funds lost. Plans still good but must await merger Promises of severe look into bad maintenance performance and complaints procedure. Two housing associations short listed for merger. Decision possibly Tuesday (19th Dec.). No tenant consultation over this. Group structure to be sorted by March.

Mr. Lomax has promised a major look at the useless complaints procedure. (In actuality, most tenants reckon that there is little wrong with it. The staff just ignore it).

About the lack of information to tenants: this is to avoid prejudicing procedures against the two members of staff under suspension (the Chief Executive and the Finance Director). Hence the somewhat specious letter we all received from the Chair of the Management Board, Mr. Roger Barcroft. (A thin excuse).

The accounts for the year ending March 2000 have now been approved by the auditors. But are not being made available to shareholders of WHHA, let alone anyone else.

We are not getting a rebuilt Tenants' Association, and so, we will continue to serve you as best as we can in exile. (Do we have an email address for you? If not, we can get you one for free, but you will still need someone to collect your mail. Give us a ring if you want help on this.) Neither are we being supported to apply for a grant for a feasibility study for other methods to rebuild the remainder of Camden's shortlife houses before they fall in on us.

Having said all this, some of us at the meeting thought that this chap could be better for us than the old regime. He seems to respond to straight forward commonsense, which is an advance. But he seems to want to do nothing until the merger is sorted.

The shareholders will get invitations to the reconvened AGM ( - big deal - they must, by law - ) but no other form of consultation. Tenants get virtually no consultation whatever. The Housing Corporation's Clause G4 ("Performance Standards for registered social landlords") isn't worth the paper its printed on.

What a mess.

 

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Consultant leaves. Tuesday December 12th.

Ms. Eleanor Lohr, until the summer WHHA's Operations Director and Housing Director (replaced by Mr. Asit Acharya) and then appointed consultant, is no longer working for WHHA. 

 

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Chief Executive suspended. Friday Dec 8th 2000.

Ms. Anna Bowman , the founder of WHHA back in 1972, has been suspended and Mr. Greg Lomax has been appointed interim General Manager. No more details as yet.

 

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Finance Director suspended. Dec 6th 2000.

Mr. Douglas Wilson, a long serving director of WHHA has been suspended. As finance director, he was in charge of the much criticised computer system as well as, obviously, the accounts, which he could not produce for the Annual General Meeting in September. When the Housing Corporation put the "The Three Wise Men", now The Four with the advent of Mr. Tom Dacey of the Southern Housing Group, (the "four turtle doves" doesn't really work, lets face it) on WHHA's Management Board, (see below), and when one of them turned out to be a top financial expert, this change seemed likely.

WHHA's new Financial Controller is Mr. Steve Garvey, who has a considerable track record, including working at Hacas Chapman Hendy and Network Housing Association in Wembley. Tenants have invited him to two different meetings. It will be interesting to see his attitude.

  

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Merger expected within a few weeks. Dec 2000.

The T.A. has received information that the specialists brought in to sort a merger are intending to act very quickly indeed.

Such a change needs careful consideration involving all the parties concerned. And of these, the tenants must be seen as a major party.

We all know that quick fix solutions rarely succeed.

Under Section G4 of the Housing Corporation's "Performance Standards for registered social landlords", tenants MUST be consulted. We are being refused a say. The Corporation appears to be allowing this to happen. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, "Everyone serves someone", and in the case of the Housing Corporation, it is the National Audit Office.

Next stop S.W.1.?

 

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Newspaper articles.

 

 

"Genesis is made West Hampstead agent". Housing Today. 1st Mar.

 The Genesis housing group has been appointed management agents for WHHA to manage our "ailing" stock. A team is providing support "while further clarification of the legal and financial position is sought. A decision will be made on the length of Genesis' commitment to WHHA once the legal and financial situation has been checked by the end of April."

 

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"Housing chiefs evicted from office". Camden New Journal. 1st Feb.

Lee Gordon, a Senior Staff reporter, wrote that the departure of top officials at WHHA is an embarrassment to Camden Council who ignored warnings that WHHA was under shaky leadership, and preferred to show confidence in them by continuing to sell houses to their ex-chairwoman of Social Services from the early eighties.

 

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"Genesis deal could save association". Housing Today. 5th Jan.2001.

The Chief Executive of PCHA, Mr. Anu Vedi speaks of a possibility of a partnership and a long process for us to go through. It could take months. A "merger of equals" is under discussion ["Who on earth are these people fooling?" - Ed.]. A spokesman said "Genesis will be consulting with WHHA tenants in due course".

Certainly, when all the decisions are made. This is not "consulting", it is "informing". Since the Chair of WHHA's Management Board, New Islington and Hackney H.A.'s Roger Barcroft does not accept the legal status of pre-January 1989 tenants, presumably this misinformation is going to be passed on the PCHA.

  

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"Association's debt backed by quango". Property People. 14th Dec. 2000.

"Turmoil at the troubled WHHA ... whilst the association looks to another social landlord to take it over ... But Diana Wilson, a shortlife tenant of WHHA for twenty years said 'For nearly three years, our small group of tenants had tried to bring to the attention of the Housing Corporation the lack of accountability and poor management of WHHA. We have had replies but very unsatisfactory. We are angry that it took so long because it is just wasted money'. ... The Corporation had placed WHHA under supervision on 21 November because of 'serious concerns about the RSL's governance, financial management and financial position' ". Full text.

  

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 "Suspensions at West Hampstead as quango supports overdraft". Inside Housing. 14th December 2000.

Housing Corporation has provided a £3m overdraft guarantee to "protect the position of its tenants and help it pursue a partnership with another landlord". This was a temporary measure and NOT an injection of cash. Such a step has not been taken by the Corporation for five years.  Read the story direct from them.

 

 

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"Agency's £3m stops HA from going bust". Housing Today. 14 Dec. 2000.

In addition, this article says that a fourth board member has been imposed , namely, Mr. Tom Dacey, chief executive of the Southern Housing Group. The measures, and the bank guarantee are to stop the housing association going into receivership. The guarantee is for just over one year. WHHA's new boss, Mr. Greg Lomax is quoted as saying that "we hope to find a partner in the next couple of weeks.

  

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 "Housing chief in cash quiz mystery". Camden New Journal. 14th December. See local libraries.

 

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  "West Hampstead under supervision". Inside Housing . 22 Nov. Web article.

 

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 "Supervised H.A. looks to rescue in takeover".

Housing Today. 23rd November 2000.

By Mahua Chatterjee

A housing association placed under Housing Corporation supervision this week has announced it is looking for a larger association to take it on.

The corporation said this week it had placed West Hampstead housing association under supervision "because of serious concerns about the RSL’s governance, financial management and financial position".

The corporation has also confirmed that it will not be releasing any further funding to the association. A spokeswoman said that the decision only affected new capital allocations for this year which amount to £5.9m for mixed funded rent and £2.9m for temporary social housing.

West Hampstead said it was now looking for a partnership in a large association group structure. In a statement, the association said the move was "in recognition of the risks and increased challenges facing smaller associations".

The association’s Roger Barcroft said: "We believe that the association will be best able to expand its important temporary accommodation and urban regeneration work as part of a larger group."

Chief executive Anna Bowman told Housing Today: "Our board took the decision to seek a partnership through the association of a group structure. There is a timetable in place but it is too early to give any details about the effect such a move would have on services and staff."

However she confirmed that one employee from the development department had been made redundant and a number of departmental frozen as a result of the problems.

Bowman said the housing benefit crisis was partly to blame for the association’s problems.

More than 90 per cent of the association’s tenants are in receipt of housing benefit and in some cases it has taken up to six months for benefit to be released.

In total West Hampstead is owed £3.5m in late benefits.

The corporation has made three statutory appointments to West Hampstead’s board. They are: Willem Buttinger a business consultant, Brian Milward, group finance director at the Horizon Group and Jakki Moxham, chief executive at Springboard housing association.

West Hampstead has appointed HACAS Chapman Hendy to assist in the selection of a partner association.

West Hampstead is the latest in a string of associations to be placed under corporation supervision (Housing Today, 9 November).

 

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 "Quango trio on West Hampstead board". Inside Housing. 24th Nov. 2000.

 

"Accountability is West Hampstead's downfall". (Letters page). Inside Housing. 17th Nov. 2000.

 

"West Hampstead loses £9.2m fund". Inside Housing. 13th Oct. 2000.

 

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Generally speaking, news comes entirely from the housing press.

The various directors, former and/or suspended directors of WHHA, namely Ms. Anna Bowman, Chief Executive, Mr. Asit Acharya, Operations Director, Mr. Eamonn Pryle, Development Director and Mr. Douglas Wilson, Finance Director, have all been completely tight lipped about WHHA's current crisis. The previous Operations Director, Eleanor Lohr, who until recently worked as an independent consultant, was equally unforthcoming. The Management Board have not been helpful. Neither the previous Chair, Ms. Jeanette York , of the Local Government Association, has issued an statement nor has the current Chair, Mr. Roger Barcroft of New Islington and Hackney H. A. Even the Chair of the Finance Committee, Ms. Jane Crumpton-Taylor of Nacro had had nothing to say when asked to make a statement at the A.G.M. in September at which WHHA could not produce a set of accounts.

 

 

Housing Today's web site. ...................Their headlines.

Inside Housing's web site .....................Their headlines.

Property People's web site...................Their headlines.

 

 

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Who to write to

If you are not happy with how you are being treated by WHHA, then there are a number of people who may be able to do something. They include:

1. Your ward councillors. If you do not know who they are, the local library will tell you who they are, and their addresses. Or click here.

2. Your Member of Parliament. Find out your MP

3. Journalists of local and national newspapers. Ask for the housing or social affairs correspondents.

 

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Printing from this site

Due to the background colour and the size of this page, an attempt to print may empty your toner/inkjet ink. Try copying what is needed to the clipboard and printing from there.

For those who want to be reminded about this process, highlight the required text by putting the cursor at the beginning of the text wanted and hold down the left mouse button. Then drag the cursor to the end of the passage wanted. Release the mouse button. This should highlight the text. Then use the Edit/Copy function to copy to the clipboard. Open Wordpad, (or similar word processor) - use the Edit/Paste command to get the text dropped in, and then go to File/Print. (Mac users and those wise enough to use Linux should have similar arrangements).

Its a bit Mickey Mouse, but it works.

 

 

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Can you help?

There are many ways that you can help. We need people to write letters, finding out more information on the Internet, from Government sources etc. If you would like to get involved, please contact: whhashortlife@yahoo.com. It can be useful to write to your local ward councillors, or visit them at their surgeries. If you do not know who they are, click here. enter your street name and you should find out.

 

 

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The LSD of Shortlife.

Much has been said by the previous administration about how shortlife has been running at the loss, and how we should be grateful for being subsidised. Here is something for you to chew on, and it is up to you to make up your own mind:

 

THE OUTPUT TRAY:

Shortlifers have found their water boilers on the blink. They ring up, and a new diaphragm later, all is well. This happens every five or six years. Most of us have had a ceiling come in and in the early days, this got put up, often with the help of some plywood, (and plaster if we did it ourselves). Admittedly, most properties have received some attention over the years (at least until recently when the Maintenance Department fell to bits). But generally speaking, tenants say the same thing: the help we have received over the last two decades has amounted to precious little.

This account is a little exaggerated, but most tenants would say that it adds up to a reasonable story of what has been put into our homes (other than by us, of course).

 

THE INPUT TRAY:

Most houses have three flats, each paying about £54 per week for a flat condemned by the council as unfit in the late seventies. See background.

These payments were the backbone of WHHA. They funded the whole process whereby we came to be evicted to make way for outsiders who, in many if not most cases, were not significantly different in any way to shortlife tenants.

In recent years, WHHA have started to pay a fee to Camden for these houses, but it is not significant. (Why Camden would charge for goods pulled out of their dustbin is something that they should be asked). Using current rates, thereby sidestepping the considerable mathematical problems of dealing with inflation and the varying cost of the pound, WHHA has received £ 54 x 3 x 52 x 20. This adds up to £168,480 for each house.

And they say that we should be grateful for being subsidised.

 

Who owes who, Mr Vedi?

 

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Legal issues

 

 

1. Bruton v. London and Quadrant H.A. June 1999.

Many years ago, Mr. Gary Bruton, a shortlife "licencee" who joined the London & Quadrant Housing Association after the January 15th 1989 watershed, asked his landlord to do some essential repairs. They refused on the grounds that he was only a licencee.

He took them to the county court, and lost. In June 1999, with his solicitors, he appealed this decision at the House of Lords. L & Q were represented by the solicitors, Devonshires, and brought in a top barrister, Terence Gallivan, to fight their case. The Law Lords ruled that Gary was a tenant, and that therefore, his demand for repairs should be complied with.

London & Quadrant must have wished that they had just fixed his roof. (Who remembers the story of the original famous Cookie Hack? Although the situations are quite different, it is a fun read).

Unfortunately, the Lords were not asked to rule upon what type of tenant he was, and so, they didn't. But they said that he had the ingredients of a tenancy, and that the concept of a licence was a "sham", a device used by the landlord simply to evade their proper responsibilities.

This case was written up in The Times: Law Reports, Friday 25th June, 1999.

The issue of whether pre '89 shortlifers are Secure Tenants or Assured Tenants involves Sections 34 and 35 of the Housing Act 1988 and a few other complications. We will probably turn out to be Secure Tenants. This is not that surprising since the Assured Tenancy did not exist when we became tenants.

 

 

2. WHHA v. Jensen & Wilson. September 2000. (Case No. CL 053317 and three others).

Long term short-life tenants, i.e. those who became tenants of WHHA prior to Jan. 1989, made history on Wednesday 27th September 2000 in the Central London County Court.

In the spring of 1998, WHHA purchased seven houses at a discount from the London Borough of Camden, the "Messina 7", originally with the idea of emptying them, refurbishing them, and then filling them with council nominees. Having struck deals with the tenants of all but one of the seven houses, WHHA found themselves in Court still apparently in denial of the post Bruton era., and apparently still in possession of plenty more tenants' rent money available for spending on their legal adventures.

The barrister for WHHA, the same Mr. Terence Gallivan, took out four sets of papers, two against each of the two ladies, one set describing them as licencees, and one set effectively describing them as secure tenants. Before the judge, he conceded that Diana Hardy Wilson and Ingelise Jensen were secure tenants by dropping one set of the two sets of proceedings against each of them, and running with the "Schedule 2 Ground 10" action. This section can only be used against fully fledged secure tenants. The legal position was helped by the Bruton case (n.b. The Law Lords: Bruton v. London & Quadrant 1999) but now the situation is clear. People who joined prior to Jan 1989 should ask the Housing Corporation (Tel: 020-7292 4400) for a copy of their booklet "Secure Tenant's Charter".

Strictly speaking, this case is not a legal precedent because the decision was not made by a judge. However, it was made by a Premier League barrister in the housing field, and others who might stray into these waters would do well to remember this.

 

Battle of the Titans

In October 1998, WHHA took a dozen or more long term tenants to the Central London County Court as licencees. We were represented by two experienced housing barristers. When the case came up, on 7th December, in the absence of Martin Westgate due to illness, we were again represented by the legendary Mr. Robert Latham. All the cases were withdrawn by WHHA who suddenly sued for peace - as they always do when taken to the wire. Deals were struck with everyone, and we will eventually end up in permanent flats with permanent tenancies. (WHHA always pull out at the last minute except for the September 2000 case of WHHA v. Jensen & Wilson.)

 

Those with a more recent tenancy are in a less clear position, but still an improved one. See below. Tenants of the Messina 7 Group (a group of long term shortlifers in seven houses being redeveloped in Messina Avenue, Pandora Road, and Sumatra Road, London, N.W.6.) have been told that those with at least five years tenancy with WHHA will be treated properly. In addition, Mr. Greg Lomax, Interim General Manager (see under "News") said that where in doubt, WHHA would err on the side of the tenant, and did not wish to welch on its moral responsibilities.

This new status brings a whole host of benefits, including better temporary accommodation expectations (when building works are under way), home loss payments etc. and of course, a permanent tenancy at the end of the day with access to all the valuable home exchange schemes that this implies.

The courts are accepting that the licence concept is a "sham" (their word, not ours), and that it doesn't count.

There is a lot more to the matter than the above. But this is a start. Be certain to deal with a law firm experienced in shortlife matters, and there are two to choose from.

 

*** And never, repeat never, accept legal advice from PCHA, WHHA or anybody working with them.

 

 

3. Those who joined WHHA after Jan.15th 1989

Such licencees have, at least, all the rights of Assured Shorthold Tenants. They can put in for essential repairs, and use the WHHA Complaints Procedure , and/or the PCHA Complaints Procedure (they are now WHHA's Management Agents: ring 020-8537 4537 for a copy to be sent to you by post) if works or service are not done to their satisfaction.

There is an independent mediation service which is used for dealing with disputes that WHHA cannot solve.

In addition, there is the possibility of taking legal action for damages due to persistent failure to perform repairs (if this has been the case).

Tenants of the "Messina 7" Development Project were assured that people who have been on board for 5 years will be treated properly. See also notes re. Mr. Lomax's pronouncements above.

 

Legal Aid:

Please note that you do not have to be unemployed to be able to get legal aid. There is a contribution scheme for those on lower incomes. If, after removing the costs like rent, child care, travel, dependents, tax, N.I. contributions, council tax, you have only £2,767 per year left, you pay nothing. And up to £8,196 left, there is a sliding scale of contributions payable. And if you win, you will get it back. As for savings, if you have £3,000 or less, it doesn't count. And there is an arrangement for those with savings up to £6,750.

 

 

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WHHA's complaints Procedure.

 

(Permanent tenants: different system - Try this )

For all others, the complaints procedure is very precise, and needs to be followed carefully so that the complainer can rightly demand the next stage, rather than ask for it.

First of all, it must be said that WHHA's managing agents, PCHA, have said that the great advantage of housing associations working together is that, in all cases, the best of the various procedures from the various housing associations should be used. This means that the PCHA complaints procedure will be available for WHHA tenants to follow.

1. First Stage. Complain to person next up the rung in the ladder to the person being complained about. Usually a housing officer, development officer or maintenance officer. Your letter, and all following ones, should be headed "Formal Complaint". Describe the problem, and if you can, suggest a solution.

WHHA must send you a receipt for this letter within 3 working days, and a useful reply within 10 working days.

If you do not get a reply in 3 days, then this is cause for a new complaint, which should flow through the system as a separate complaint. The same applies if you do not get a useful letter within 10 days. This is grounds for another complaint.

This applies at all levels.

When the reply comes back to you, it should say what you should do if you are not happy. Again, if you get a reply without a mention of the procedure to do if you aren't content, then this is grounds for opening an additional complaint.

2. Second Stage. To section manager or whoever is next up the ladder. If the reply to Stage 1 is very unsatisfactory, you may wish to lodge another complaint about the poor quality of the stage 1 reply. Same conditions for replying to you apply.

3. Third Stage. To Departmental Manager or the next up the ladder. Rules are the same as for Stage 2.

4. Mediation Stage. At this point, the process leaves WHHA's control, and something useful is more probable. Please note that there is a problem using the Independent Housing Ombudsman's mediation service. If you use them, and the matter is successfully resolved, you CANNOT then file a report to the Ombudsman alleging bad practice. Filing such a report can be very useful for getting the rules changed, and the Ombudsman can award financial damages to the tenant. It is usually better to insist on the Camden Mediation Service for this reason. If you are still not happy then:

5. The complaint goes to the Departmental Sub-committee. However, this has been abolished, and it would seem that we now write to the Chair of Management Board, Mr. Richard Parkhill, c./o. WHHA, Chancel House, Neasden Lane, London NW10 2AY.

***N.B. PCHA have just scrapped Stage 4 (mediation) and Stage 5 (Departmental sub committee). Instead, if you are not satisfied after Stage 3, write to the Chair of Management Board, Richard Parkhill and call upon him to investigate your case. His address is c./o. WHHA, Chancel House, Neasden Lane, London NW10 2AY.

 

6. If you have not received satisfaction from him, you may then apply to the Independent Housing Ombudsman .

 

 N.B.

If you do not receive a reply yo any letter within the prescribed time, you may write to them to say that you accept their lack of a reply as a response, and that you are not happy and wish the complaint taken to the next stage.

You do not need ever to explain why you are not happy. It is quite sufficient that you aren't pleased. If WHHA send you a peculiar letter which sort of talks about the problem but in a weird and roundabout way, and does not really address the problem, you can reply simply saying that you accept their letter as their response, and that you are not happy, and wish to take the matter to the next stage.

You will need time and patience. But results can be obtained (so they say).

 

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Green issues.

 

With the likelihood of most Camden shortlife houses receiving attention soon, it is worth thinking about how best our properties can be developed. More and more of us do not want to see chemical-heavy paints and materials being used when this is usually avoidable.

1. Environmentally sensible paint is not ruinously expensive, and some say it is actually cheaper in the long run.

2. Grey water systems (and inexpensive low grade heat extraction) use bath water for toilets. Will water metering become compulsory soon?

3. Certain materials, notably MDF, are said to exude chemicals for a long time, and can be avoided.

4. Thermal insulation is cheaper to put in when refurbishing. "Waste" wool is economical, and so is fire treated recycled paper. Neither have the emissions said to be associated with chemicalised glass fibre products.

5. Sound insulation really matters.

6. The list goes on. These are not costly features but can make a difference.

7. Do all tenants actually want central heating? What does it cost? Are gas fires sometimes right?

8. High efficiency bi-post light fittings can make sense.

9. Recycling compost bins for the garden

10. We can use floor boards tongue and grooved rather than toxic adhesive impregnated products

11. Sparge pipe extractors for toilets - even composting ones.

Dealing with WHHA's Development Department sometimes felt like carrying around a rucksack full of brick rubble. PCHA's is as bad. We can plan ahead, give these points some consideration, and decide what is right.

There may be opportunities for bulk purchasing.

 

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Special offers.

 

For those on a benefit, basic heat proofing can be done for free. Telephone H.E.E.S. on 0800-181-667. A well worth while service. There is often a waiting list. Book early.

Also, Camden offers, for those on a benefit, an imperfect fridge replaced with a new energy efficient one for £25 and a firdge-freezer for £50. There needs to be a certain amount wrong with yours. Telephone 0800-801-738 for information on when the scheme starts up again. For more details try "Boiling hot or freezing cold".

High efficiency (20watt lamps giving 100watt of light) "folded fluorescent " lamps cost £5 to £7 in the shops but are massively cheaper from wholesalers. Let us know if you are interested. Also, using a special socket allows for the use of cheaper lamps of the same performance. Available at £1 from Poundland, Kilburn High Road, (Near Kilburn Square).

On the telephone and Internet front, PhoneBills apparently provides an Oftel approved advice service. One-Tel , NPower and NTL are worth checking. The former offer all national calls at 2.5p per minute, and local calls at that rate during the day, and 1p at evenings and weekends.

 

Gas and Electricity.

NPower offer about 10% off, and for payment by direct debit another 10% if they supply both fuels. This means that an annual bill of £240 from British Gas and the L.E. B. would cost £198 with them. Ring them on 0800-389-2388, or 0800-072-6868 for enquiries about their telephone services.

L.E.B. charge less for gas than British Gas but remeber that all these offers are constantly changing.

 

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 Policy & Procedure.

 

WHHA have a Policy & Procedure document for many situations, and these are listed below. You may ask at any time for any of these documents to be sent to you so that you can check the rules, and that they are following them.

Please note that they may contain legal or quasi-legal statements. LAW MUST BE SOUGHT ONLY FROM LAWYERS EXPERIENCED IN HOUSING LAW. (Short-lifers have the added problem that very few housing specialist lawyers are up to speed on the recently changing shortlife legal position. In actuality, if the words Bindman and partners, Nicholas and Company, or Christian Khan are on the letterhead of your lawyer's notepaper, then you are probably O.K. - Otherwise you are probably not).

First of all, it must be said that WHHA's managing agents, PCHA, have said that the great advantage of housing associations working together is that, in all cases, the best of the various procedures from the various housing associations should be used. This means that the PCHA procedure will, or at least, should be available for WHHA tenants to follow.

 

Lettings

Tenancy agreements

Permanent lettings

Short-life lettings

Allocations Procedure

H.O.M.E.S. mobility schemes. ( i.e. the flat exchange schemes)

Voids (i.e. WHHA's empty flats)

Referral agencies

Redecoration allowances

 

Housing Management

Harassment Policy & Procedure

Translation and interpreters

Succession

Lodgers and subletting

Assignment and illegal occupation

Temporary/Licencees

Relationship breakdown

Domestic violence

Neighbour complaints

Joint tenancies

Aids and adaptations

Access to information

Disrepair

  

Rents and services

Charges

Permanent rent setting

Short-life rent setting - Shared

Short-life rent setting - Self contained

Service charge

Council tax

Compensation and rent reduction

Permanent housing arrears

 

 

General

Health and safety at work manual

Preventing violence at work

Confidentiality

Complaints

Equal Opportunities

 

WHHA must revise these documents periodically, often every two years or so. Check that this has happened.

 

Important footnote:

Since we are being managed by PCHA, you may want to ring them on 020-8537 4537 and ask them to post to you their version. It may pay you to follow it instead. (See note above)

 

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Pathmeads Management Board.

 

Dapo Ladimeji, Chair.

Tom McGregor

Jai Dosanjh

Brian Milward

Colin Allies

Gillian King

Gerald Balabanoff

Kit Wilby

Board, PCHA. Accountant. Email

M. D., Pathmeads/WHHA.

C. E. O., Passmore Urban Renewal

Finance Dir, North Herts H.A.

Bromley Age Concern Health Prof Co

HR consultancy. King Associates

East Herts County Council

Telephone Helplines Association.

 Previous board:

Dapo Ladimeji, Chair.

Jacquie Cannon.

Mark Cummins

Lawrence Wybraniec

Jai Dosanjh

David McKinley

Brian Milward

Amanda Kelly

Willem Buttinger

Kit Wilby

Board member, PCHA Email

Board member, PCHA

Board member, PCHA

Board member, PCHA

C. E. O., Passmore Urban Renewal

Business Consultant

Finance Dir, Horizon Housing Group

ex Deputy Leader, Camden Council

Finance Consultant, board: R.B.H.T.

Brent Private Tenants' Rights Group.

 

 

The previous Management Board.

 

(Until March 2000, chaired by Jeanette York, who took over from Peter Hibbert of Network Housing Association, now Stadium HA. She left for reasons which are not known. This board was sacked in Feb. 2001, apparently).

 

Chair: Roger Barcroft. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association.

Jane Crumpton-Taylor. N.A.C.R.O.

David Curry. Tenant member.

Janet Oraka-Onojeje. Finance.

Juliet Mountford. Civil Service.

Anil Vasudev. Apna Ghar Housing Association. Appointed: May 2000.

Alan Chapman. Housing consultant. Appointed: May 2000.

Peter Headland. London Borough of Barnet. Appointed: May 2000.

* Jakki Moxham. Springboard Housing Association.

* Willem Buttinger. Business Consultant.

* Brian Milward. Horizon Group.

* Tom Dacey. Southern Housing Group.

Justine Thompson. Warden Housing Association.

Oluyemisi Ogundimu . Journalism.

Peter Chivers. National Mutual Building Society.

Kit Wilby. Brent Private Tenants Rights Group.

Tunji Fahm. Fahm & Co., Solicitors.

 

* denotes statutory appointment by the Housing Corporation.

 

 

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 Genesis Board

 

Adrian Bell, Chair.

Roy Christie

Dapo Ladimeji

Anu Vedi

John Connaughton

Jacqueline Cannon

David Kleeman

Stephen Lansman

Louis Robert

Stephen Woolridge

Lawrence Wybraniec

Chair, Royal Bank of Canada (Europe) Ltd.

Chair, PCHA. Surveyor, Harvey & Co

Chair, Pathmeads. Accountant. Email

Chief Executive, Genesis

Chartd Surveyor, partner, Davis Langdon

Board, Circle Anglia Housing Group.

Board, Housing Corporation

Consultant, Ashwell Rogers

Senior partner, Prince Evans

Relationship Dir. Lloyds TSB Corporate

Dep General Manager, Banca Intesa

 

 

PCHA board.

 

Leonora Thomson, Chair

Mark Cummins

Chuks Amaechi

Rita Jobbins

Pam Lockley

Mike McCall

Barbara Park

3 tenant appointees

Senior manager, Metropolitan Police, London Borough of Ealing.

Lecturer in Design and Communications

Housing, Southwark council

ex Abbey National Treasury Services

Managing Director, PCHA

Operations Director, St Mungos.

Fundraiser, Independent Age.

Names to be confirmed.

 


 

Boiling hot or freezing cold?

Heat.

Heat can be bounced out of sunny windows by hanging "space blankets" at the window. These aluminium coated plastic sheets are often about 6ft x 8ft, and cost a pound or two at sports and camping shops.

Alternatively, try rigging a venetian blind OUTSIDE the window. These blinds tend to absorb heat, and this way, the heat stays outside the building.

 

Cold.

Who isn't, in short-life property? Camden has a new scheme called "Warmth for all" and they may have sent you a leaflet. If they haven't, then it offers to those over 60 or on a benefit (or possibly low income) a whole range of free services up to a maximum of £2000: including central heating, boiler replacement (condensing boilers often recommended by environmental experts), hot water tank lagging, additional room heaters, loft and/or cavity wall insulation, draughtproofing, free high energy light bulb and loads of other possibilities.

Camden's scheme also offers to replace your fridge if it old, imperfect or inefficient for the cost of £25 with a new energy efficient model. You might speed the process up by ringing 0131-554 2532 and asking for a form. It should arrive a day or so and there should be a result in 3 - 4 weeks. There is a range of services available to those not on a benefit as well. Ring 0800-801-738 as soon as possible to get on the list. The demand may be high.

 Also, H.E.E.S. offers similar help on 0800-181-667. An excellent service and can be recommended. If everyone in the house qualifies, then the front door, hallway and common areas can be heat proofed.

 Double glazing can be achieved reasonably cheaply with bubble wrap if you don't mind not really seeing through ( 99p per metre 1500mm wide from Home Base) and clear sheeting if you want proper transparency from the likes of B & Q.

 

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Useful links

 

Housing.

 

Housing Today

Inside Housing - news

Property People - headlines

Local Government Chronicle

Co-operative Development Services

The official page Defend Council Housing

A link for the lowdown on gerrymandering

Fancy a move - a new flat, location or landlord? Try Locata

The basis for the "Assured Tenancy": The Housing Act 1988  

This has some relevance, it would seem: The Housing Act 1996.

For pre '89 Shortlifers - the Secure v. Assured issue - Read this

Get agenda papers and minutes of Camden's committee meetings

Official site: London Borough of Camden and the Library catalogue

For data on hazards and dealing with them, London Hazard Centre.

Most interesting: Confederation of Co-Operative Housing and Special paper.

Setting up a Tenants Association? Try: Tenants' Participation & Advisory Service

For general information on housing and the Corporation, The Housing Corporation.

All WHHA/Pathmeads tenants welcome "Independent Federation of Genesis Residents"

A new flat exchange scheme (Not for WHHA, PCHA yet): Getting London Moving

Visit PCHA's site, scruffy in I.E.4, 5.0, which may work in other browsers: PCHA

Alternatively, the Genesis Housing Group (Their address is http://www.ghg.org.uk)

For the Law Lords ruling on Bruton v. L & Q: Their Lordships' Judgment

Re. the Bruton case: The Times: Law Reports, Friday 25th June, 1999.

The new Human Rights Act 1998 and its Fundamental Articles

For legal information generally, L.A.G. and Free Lawyer

The web site of the Independent Housing Ombudsman.

The Chartered Institute of Housing

National Housing Federation

National Audit Office

Audit Commission

 

 

Eco Interest.

 

Envirolink

The Ecologist

The pressure group: Sustainable Homes

For an environmental attitude to rebuilding, A.E.C.B.

Solar heating even for cloudy European skies: Thermomax

Eco newspaper: a poor design of site but useful: Positive News

More inspiration at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales.

A wealth of useful information and eco-products: Construction Resources.

A remarkable BBC Reith Lecture, 2000; truly an eye opener: Vandana Shiva.

New build sustainable energy efficient housing. Peabody Trust: in Sutton. BedZED.

Perfectly clean cars? What some are doing now: BMW - Ford - Hydrogen - Air (+1)

Hardly directly applicable to us pavement people, but very inspiring: Brithdir Mawr

23/6/01. Broken. (Books on other environmental subjects: Intermediate Technology.)

Books on many building ideas: Intermediate Technology.

Intermediate Technology Development Group.

Permaculture Magazine.

Permaculture

 

 

General interest.

 

Camden New Journal 

Hampstead & Highgate Express

TV and Radio listings - Radio Times

Problems? Find out your MP and write

...... your local councillors are found here

Changes daily: amazing: NASA's daily pic

Interesting science/space site from NASA

Shortlife blues musicians: The SPIKEdrivers

Want to spot the Space Station? (ISS). Try this

Fed up with 118-xxx? BT's Directory Enquiries

Problems? Find out your local councillor and write

Interesting journalists: John Pilger - George Monbiot

Kids always asking questions? See How Stuff Works

Do you need to read a post 1988 British Act of Parliament?

Fed up with expensive phone, gas and electricity bills? Uswitch

Links to many of the worlds newspapers: Online Newspapers

Need a site or something translated? A bit lumpy - try Altavista

Want to arrange a meeting of like minded people? Try Meet Up

Useful source of Middle East news; can crash browsers: Al-Jazeera

Ever wondered about seeing satellites, space station etc.? Heavens Above

National telehpone number business searches - must register: UK Phone Book

The "Dodgy Dossier". See for yourself here: Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction

Important: Has your computer a firewall? Free, recommended by Which? - ZoneLabs

Help in Employment, Consumer, Housing (?), Motoring, Family, Injury: Free Lawyer

Links to most of the world's newspapers, ranked by country: Online Newspapers

Roll up your trousers and paddle in the murky waters of the British Government

Single parent? Try this site. If it is any good, review it for us: Planet OneParent

Short on shelf space due to duff walls? Here is your Encyclopaedia Britannia.

22 carat inspirational stuff on web site design and Internet useage: AlertBox

Its there - for all you hippies with slightly greying hair: Rolling Stone

A full and impressive and searchable database of films: IMDB

Have a look at Loot if you are buying or register to sell.

For general purpose Internet searching: Dogpile

Need any medical advice? NHS Direct

 

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Telephone numbers.

 

Pathmeads/WHHA: 020-8150-

Main switchboard: -5300. Fax: -5304

Maintenance -5303. (Fax: -4972). (Out of hours: -5305)

Victoria Adelowo -5367

Boe Williams Obasi -5432

Gas - emergency only: 0800-111-999.

 

PCHA: 020-8150-4200. (Fax -4298).

192 Willesden High Road

NW10 2PB.

Map here

PCHA Maintenance. (permanent tenants only) 8150-4000.

 

Genesis Head Office: 020-8150-4100. (Fax -4199)

Capital house,

25 Chapel St.,

NW1 5DT.

Map here. Off Edgware Road near the Marylebone Flyover.

 

Chartered Institute of Housing. 020-7837 4280

Housing Corporation. (National). 020-7393 2000

Co-operative Development Services. 020-7397 5700

Housing Corporation. (London Region). 020-7292 4400

National Audit Office. (The Corporation's boss). 020-7798 7000

National Housing Federation (WHHA's "trade union"). 020-7278 6571

"Housing Today". 020-7560 4000 (Fax: -4002)

"Inside Housing". 020-7772 8300 (Fax: -8591)

"Property People". 020-7401 2075 (Fax: 7928-4887)

"Local Government Chronicle". 020-7874 0200. (Fax: 7347-1830)

"Camden New Journal". 020-7419 9000. (Fax: 7482-7317)

"Ham & High". 020-7433 0000. (Fax: 7483-3566)

"Kilburn Times". 020-8962 6800. (Fax: -6897)

WHHA Tenants' Association (in exile). 020-7794 7024.

 

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