Friday, March 26, 2010

Leasehold Improvement Group

Tonight, dear reader, I had the dubious and perverse pleasure of attending a Leasehold Improvement Group (LIG for short but no ligging to be had) at the Civic Suite in Catford, one of those things you see advertised in Home magazine that makes you feel a little sick before you throw it straight into the recycling bin.

Usually this is attended by the TRA's Repairs representative, Raphael, but he asked me to go on his behalf because he was away. He thought it would be an important meeting. I've never been to one of these things, the logic being why should I give my unpaid time to attend a meeting run by people who are paid by me only to have them tell me that they can't run their astonishingly badly run business better unless I pay them more.

The meeting was attended by a small number of leaseholders from all over the borough who all share similar problems. Tonight's agenda was pest control, caretaking, estate inspections and communal repairs (there is a different focus at each meeting) and the set up was Lewisham Homes at top table where they could spread their papers, and us 'on the floor' (admittedly in very comfortable chairs). No round table as befits a democratic forum. This set up is bizarre: the party under scrutiny to be tried and tested (Lewisham Homes: "How are we doing?") sits as judge and jury. The power play is such that if a leaseholder brings up a problem that everyone shares but refers specifically by example to their own local experience, they get a classic response which must have been learned by watching David Dimbleby on Question Time: "we can't go into specifics here about your particular, yes, you at the back there"...

I hope to post in more detail in due course about the interesting, dare I say, promising, new proposal I heard at the meeting tonight, and another recent development – the Mayor and Cabinet's hearing of the Scrutiny Committee's Review of the Council's Obligations to Leaseholders that finally took place on Wednesday night (which you can be pretty damn sure I didn't attend, but Cllr Padmore has kindly obliged by sending the papers). Tonight's meeting was indeed an important meeting since it contained a nugget of good news in it – a breakthrough at least for Raphael, who has been attending these things for ages, campaigning tirelessly (and yes, sending everyone to sleep at TRA meetings). He may just have finally achieved one of his goals to get some accountability in how leaseholders pay for communal repairs. One day at a time, sweet Jesus.

Postscript: my record of this meeting now posted on the Leaseholder Page (click here).

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