As previously reported, leaseholders on the estate were a bit upset at the lack of information they have received from their landlord, Lewisham Homes, about proposed Major Works – aka external building and decoration works to communal areas. The first 'surgery' was held almost a month after estimate bills were issued, with only a week left before the 'consultation' period was to end (July 2nd). The last notifications about such works were in 2010.
It has since transpired that leaseholders did not receive the correct information with their bills. Firstly, a document which usefully outlined Ways To Pay (and when) and gave useful contact numbers was omitted.
Secondly, a fully detailed and itemised Schedule of Works for each block was not provided. Instead, a 'summary' was included that in many cases was too small to read (see below), was too vague and contained builder's jargon (though not as much as the more detailed version). Other estates have received all this detail in the first instance, but Crossfields people were invited to comment on paying out up to £13,000 with only the flimiest of information to go on.
People are required to call up or email to get the full schedule of works for their building, but were not invited to do so. Which is why so many questions were asked at the first meeting. Those who knew to ask for more detail have since received a document dated 25th June (prepared, then, a month after the estimated bills went out).
Notes were taken by Lewisham Homes at the first 'surgery' (that had turned into an impromtu group meeting), and were supposed to be sent out to all leaseholders. These have not yet arrived some two weeks later. A promised 'walkabout' has still not materialised. We are now told this will not happen until about 360,000 quid's worth of scaffolding has gone up.
The scaffolding needs to go up in order for them to determine what work requires doing to the roofs – something that can't be done with a cherry picker or a pair of binoculars, apparently. The scaffolding will then be up for 6 months or more – a fait accomplis. (Our roofs were renewed less than 20 years ago and should be under guarantee).
Although slightly postponed, two blocks have now received notice that scaffolding will go up on 21st July. The other blocks have no idea when the scaffolding will go up around their own buildings. A notice was put up in stairwells on the two blocks yesterday, and today notices were hand delivered to all the flats by the Resident Liaison Officer who is installed onsite. However, no one knows there is a Resident Liaison Officer, since her details have not been provided on any documentation and notices.
Only on enquiry was one person told today that work would not start until the roof (and gutters, presumably) have been inspected and further consultation with residents has taken place. Another resident rang LH today and was told the switchboard was jammed with calls and to try again tomorrow. Another resident had been told that consultation ended on July 2nd.
News of what has happened at Tanner's Hill Major Works is now filtering down to Crossfields residents and they are shocked to see what has been done there. Here are what our stairways currently look like – in need of a good clean and perhaps some regrouting (some blocks have different colours):
The 30s/40s era tiles are mainly in good condition and people like them. It is the stairs that are the problem but there is no easily identifiable indication in the specifications that the stairs will actually be resurfaced. (In any case, it has been a long running issue that the stairs should be sorted free of cost because the wrong surfacing was applied originally that means they are impossible to clean with a mop and one bucket of water). The surrounding paintwork is also in good nick – it just needs a good clean, but is nevertheless scheduled to be re-painted. This is what MITIE have done to the tiles at Tanner's Hill:
Slightly damaged tiles have been filled in with concrete, then covered over with anti-graffiti paint in a nasty swirly stucco paint. Graffiti is not a big problem on our estate (and probably not at Tanners Hill either). Lewisham Homes need only to check their records to see how much graffiti has been removed in the past five years, and compare the costs.
The coving on the balconies has long required repainting, as have the wrought iron railings in the stairwells. (The railings have mostly deteriorated through the use of a very strong detergent that is used to clean the stairs but is never washed off). Here's an example of our balconies at present, and the 'repainting' they've done at Tanner's Hill...(not actually paint, but some horrible textured concrete!). Huge professional fees have no doubt been paid to the consultants, Bailey Garner, who deemed this necessary.
These are just a couple of issues that are worrying Crossfields people, leaseholders and tenants alike – from things that don't need doing to the greatly exaggerated cost of a tin of paint and an hour's labour to paint 7 sq meters (three times as much as it could be). Plus six months in darkness due to scaffolding, for the privilege of a facelift that nobody asked for at a time when no one can afford it. Lewisham Homes charges 10% on the total costs of the work, in some cases an extra £1300 per flat. That 10% is paying for their gross mismanagement on a project which is making a fortune for MITIE.
Update: We since discovered that the stairwells and balconies at Tanner's Hill had this work done before MITIE began work on their buildings. However, Crossfields leaseholders' Schedule of Works still lists "Balcony copings: painting to rough-cast" (rough-cast is non-smooth paint), and all the stairwell tiles were to be covered in more tiles then painted with an anti-graffiti paint, producing a similar result to stairwells at Tanner's Hill.
Since we complained and got the Conservation Officer involved (Crossfields is part of a designated Conservation Zone) these items have been modified. The tiles will now not be tiled over and painted.