Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Consultation on Major Works: Wednesday 2nd July

Tenants are invited to attend a 'surgery' on the proposed major works for Crossfields: Wednesday 2nd July 5pm-8pm at Deptford Lounge

Although tenants will not be asked to cough up for any external works to our communal areas, they may be concerned that MITIE are doing the work, having only just recovered from the internal works – which have met with a large degree of disatisfaction and a great many complaints. As one Castell House resident writes, "Why has Lewisham Homes seen fit to employ again, a contractor whose recent internal works on the estate left so much to be desired? Shoddy work, unprofessional behaviour, bodged work, half finished work, no respect for residents or their homes, mess repeatedly left in communal areas, not turning up on time, leaving early before a job was finished, losing house keys, leaving front doors open in unattended flats…"

Last week a 'surgery' was held for leaseholders. The invitation arrived along with a big fat estimated bill and a rather vague specification about what the Major Works were going to be. A 'surgery' consists of Lewisham Homes and MITIE people sitting behind desks and attendees queuing up to ask questions they probably can't answer. Since a lot of angry leaseholders descended on the 'surgery' at the same time, they demanded that a meeting was held there and then on the spot, since they had a lot of questions – and they all had the same questions! The acting head of Leasehold Services and a senior bod at MITIE were most displeased but were forced to go along with it.

Leaseholders have been presented with estimates for the works in varying amounts from £7,500 for each leaseholder in one block to nearly £13,000 in others (strangely the higher amount is for the smallest blocks). So obviously they are hopping mad, especially as the many of the works specified seem not to require doing at all or in some cases relate to items that leaseholders have been paying to have repaired during routine maintenance (but that never get repaired properly).

Where preliminary surveys are required (drains, for instance) the survey and the works resulting from it are lumped into one extortionate figure – regardless of what the survey may uncover.

Very few questions were answered at the impromtu meeting at the 'surgery' but the combined action of the residents resulted in the Lewisham Homes project manager agreeing to do a 'walkabout' in the near future around the estate with some leaseholder representatives to determine exactly what work is actually required. The date for the commencement of works (which will involve the erection of scaffolding) was also postponed, and leaseholders await an amended and more detailed specification.

Crossfields residents are not the only folk unhappy with MITIE. At Tanner's Hill and on other estates, they're up in arms and fed up to the back teeth with MITIE and Lewisham Homes. For example, blocks in Tanners Hill have had their stairway tiles recovered and then painted when there is nothing wrong with them (they just need cleaning – something Lewisham Homes seems to have no understanding of). More details on any borough wide group action soon.

Meanwhile, a Wilshaw House resident uncovered a report on MITIE's activities up north. Last year, Birmingham City Council were trying to claw back £19m they had let slip into MITIE's hands for work that was never done...God forbid Lewisham Homes should make the same mistake....

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