News Update – November 2019

Topics in this Update


Forum Meetings
Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery
Building Safety
Caretaking Review
Repairs Service Reorganisation
Estate Parking
New Landlord Structure for Council Owned Properties
Better Homes programme and asset management
Leaseholder Satisfaction Survey
Spreading Payments for Major Works
Camden’s Community Investment Programme
Recent Discussion Board Topics
Recent District Management Committee Meetings
Other Concerns

Forum Meetings
The next Forum meeting is on Tuesday 19 November at 7pm at Crowndale Centre, 218 Eversholt St, London NW1 1BD (around the corner from Mornington Crescent Underground Station). A full list of Forum Members can be found here. To contact a member representing your district please email camden@leaseholdersforum.org.uk with “FAO [Member Name]” at the top of the message.

The agenda pack for the forthcoming meeting, including draft minutes of the September meeting, are posted here on the Council website.

Please note that whilst leaseholders and other observers are welcome to attend, only Members have a right to speak. To address the meeting on an Agenda item, known as a deputation, please send in a written request no later than 5pm on Friday 15 November, to the Committee Support Officer outlining the points you wish to make. More information on making a deputation is available here on the Council website.

Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery
Just before the Forum meeting there is also the Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery running from 5.30pm to 7pm. You can arrange to meet with a member of the Leaseholder Services team who will help to explain bills and resolve outstanding issues. You must make an appointment – email leaseholderservices@camden.gov.uk or call 020 7974 4444.

Return to Topics List

Building Safety
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is currently in the process of preparing draft legislation in response to the report produced by Dame Judith Hackitt, following the Grenfell tragedy.
As part of an Early Adopters Scheme, Camden is currently working on a number of aspects regarding the Building Safety Cases that are being proposed as a requirement for all high rise / high risk buildings within the context of the legislation. Additionally, as an early adopter, Camden’s Resident Safety Team have been invited to work with the HSE officers, seconded to MHCLG, in order to work through the regulatory side of the building safety case production. Finally, Camden continues to attend the MHCLG Hackitt Work Group 8 – tasked with looking at the newly proposed role of the building safety manager.

A report dated 10 October 2019 titled ‘Evacuation policy and FRA update’ to the Fire Safety Advisory Panel by the Director of Property Management & Resident Safety provides the following summary:
o Residents have raised a range of queries and concerns with TRA representatives and Panel members about the Councils approach to Fire Safety policy and how the Fire Risk Assessment Programme works in practice.
o This report explains basis for a ‘stay put evacuation policy for Council homes and the Council’s approach to ensuring that fire risk assessors are properly qualified. The report also provide an update on the Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) programme and gives details of the monitoring process for actions arising from FRAs.
o The delivery of works to improve the safety of homes is of paramount importance to the Council and is key to delivering the Camden Plan outcomes around delivering safe and sustainable neighbourhoods.

According to a report dated 10 October 2019 titled ‘The Council’s approach to sprinklers ‘ to the Fire Safety Advisory Panel, Camden’s current position is summarised as follows:
o Sprinkler systems offer a considerable improvement to the fire safety of the building in suppressing fires at source, however, they have not been traditionally been retrofitted in residential blocks due to the focus within the building regulations on compartmentation and the level of disruption retrofitting will cause.
o While current building regulations recognise that all new residential buildings in excess of 30m height should be provided with sprinklers, the Council has examined the feasibility of new-build high-rise suppression system installations and is of the opinion that the current 30m ruling should be extended to all Camden new-build high-rise buildings over 18m in height (6 storeys). This change of approach will be introduced for new schemes yet to be procured.
o The Council will consider retrofitting where a risk analysis determines this to be the best course of action for a particular premises, this is reflected by the Council’s pilot project to retrofit a sprinkler system to Denton Tower. The Council has also fitted personal misting systems in the homes of some vulnerable residents.
o The Council has also installed sprinklers as part of the comprehensive refurbishment of the Mount Pleasant and Holmes Road hostels.

It is Camden’s aim to publish all Fire Risk Assessments for Purpose Built blocks on the Open Data portal on this link. This does take time and is an ongoing process as FRAs are received from consultants and validated by Camden’s Fire Safety Advisors. Camden does not currently plan to publish FRAs for street properties but residents can request these from the Fire Safety team.

Fire safety works are being programmed from the recent FRAs and the programmes will be published on the Open Data portal on this link. The Better Homes programmes incorporate fire safety works in addition to dedicated fire safety works programmes currently being carried out and planned for the future. To filter the data by Block, estate, programme year etc., the data can be downloaded to an Excel spreadsheet (at the top of the web page there is an ‘Export’ button).

FRAs are being reviewed and recommended actions are downloaded and assigned to the various teams responsible for the various actions. In regards to the actions requiring programming, for example the installation of emergency lighting, these are collated across all Camden blocks and Camden is working on costing these for the Capital budgets and programming these. Due to the volume of blocks and recommended actions it is a work in progress. This programme, and the capital funding required, will be considered by senior management before submitting for approval to the Cabinet. It is understood that the local Members, Fire Safety Advisory Panel, DMCs, CASP and the Leaseholders Forum will also be briefed on the programme in due course. The approved programme will then be published on the Open Data portal.

Caretaking Restructure
The Cabinet Member for Better Homes has reported to the Housing Scrutiny Committee on 7 November 2019 as follows:
o “There will be a new boroughwide team of caretakers as part of the new structure who will be deployed to fill in for unexpected absences or where there are hot-spots of anti-social behaviour and where additional resources are necessary to bring standards to an acceptable level. This was in response to the feedback during the consultation process where tenants told us that they did not want their caretakers being pulled to cover for other absences or deal with other areas of high demand. The full restructure is expected to be complete in February 2020 and bed in soon after. In accordance with the commitments I gave, detailed tasks for each block will be communicated to residents in each block in discussions and will be displayed via notice boards where they are available or via mail-shot. I am confident this will increase accountability to residents and improve the service.”

Return to Topics List

Repairs Service Reorganisation
The Cabinet Member for Better Homes has reported to the Housing Scrutiny Committee on 7 November 2019 as follows:
o “In my last report I highlighted the work to transfer the call handling for repairs to the Property Management division. This work has continued and we have recruited additional staff to manage the volume of calls received – this has been particularly important with the recent incidents of heavy rain and the start of the district heating season. With these resources in place we have been answering between 95% and 97% of calls within 2 minutes, this with an average of 1,000 calls being received each day.
o “This improvement work will continue with a dedicated resource assigned to analyse calls and identify the causes of repeat calls or residents having to call back regarding a repair. There will be a particular focus on investigating the cause and seeking to reduce repeat calls.
o “Other changes have seen the appointment of a new case work team manager, working with existing staff to co-ordinate the teams responses to complex cases and complaints, making sure that they track and close out actions effectively and that residents are kept up to date with progress. The manager will also be focussing on trends arising from complaints and what can do to improve the service to residents.
o “More broadly the service are working with tenants and leaseholders during November on the “eyes and ears” strategy, working closely with residents to get direct feedback on how the repairs service, major repairs and planned works are progressing. Five workshops will be held to talk through what would work best before draft proposals are presented to the District Management Committees and other bodies such as CASP and the Leaseholders Forum.”

Return to Topics List

Estate Parking
The Council is engaged in informal consultation with residents on the implementation of a new parking design and controls on the Maiden Lane Estate. This project will also act as a pilot scheme for the potential wider implementation across the Council’s estates and off street areas.

The project seeks to tackle problems with vehicles parked inconsiderately and without permission. The proposal will also seek to upgrade the electric vehicle charging points on the estate and promote the use of a car-sharing network by offering two years free subscription to a car club service in return for surrendering a parking permit.

The Department for Transport has expressed the view that local authorities should avoid the use of contract law (the current LBC method) to enforce parking controls on publicly owned Housing Authority land. Parking on such land should instead be regulated by making Traffic Management Orders (TMOs), authority for which is conferred by the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (RTRA). TMOs allow local authorities to issue Penalty Charge Notices on housing estates, enforcing parking in the same way as on the street. The Council is confident that the use of TMOs can provide an effective solution to the problems faced on the Maiden Lane Estate.
A report on the consultation approach may be found here. Following informal consultation the Council will then engage in a statutory consultation with the aim of implementing a new scheme on this estate in April 2020.

Return to Topics List

New Landlord Structure for Council Owned Properties
A report to the Housing Scrutiny Committee of 7 November 2019 provides an update on the new landlord service.

Better Homes programme and asset management
The Cabinet Member for Better Homes has reported to the Housing Scrutiny Committee on 7 November 2019 as follows:
o “In 2018/19 the Council completed its latest five yearly condition survey of the housing stock. The analysis has been reviewed in the early part of 2019/20 and officers will be reporting to the Housing Scrutiny committee in December 2019 on the findings. The report will also set out work to update the five year Better Homes programme, the Council’s asset management strategy and how we will work with residents to achieve this.”

Return to Topics List

Leaseholder Satisfaction Survey
Camden has mailed a ‘Leaseholder Satisfaction Survey’ questionnaire to sample around 13,000 tenants and leaseholders. The questionnaire is to be submitted by 29 November 2019, by post or online. Camden’s last survey of tenants and residents (STAR survey) was carried out in 2016.

Spreading Payments for Major Works
The Council has included with the recently issued annual statement of service charges a sheet titled ‘Major works: A guide to your statement of actual expenditure’. The sheet refers to the ‘Major Works Guide’ which contains “further details and all the payment options”.

Camden’s Community Investment Programme
The Housing Scrutiny Committee has recommended that the Council should consider producing a public document for every Community Investment Project (CIP) that provides a feasibility analysis of alternative projects scope and delivery options, that would examine all possible options for a site, including nearby Camden owned land, and look at multiple options for delivering the project and test those assumptions for robustness should circumstances change.

Return to Topics List

Recent Discussion Board Topics
Major works invoice
Becoming Homeless due to Extortionate Major Works Charges
Solar panels
Spring Clean programme (recharge to leaseholders)
Cost of Camden External Building Work

Recent District Management Committee Meetings
The agenda pack and minutes available on the following links:
Camden Town: 18th September
Gospel Oak: 19th September
Hampstead: 26th September
Holborn: 1st October
Kentish Town: 17th September

Return to Topics List

Other Concerns
If there is a particular matter of concern to you, please post details on the website Discussion Board or email your suggestion to camden@leaseholdersforum.org.uk

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Twitter