News Update – November 2018

Topics in this Update

Forum Meetings
Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery
Service Charges
Communal Electricity Long Term Agreement
Annual report of the Cabinet Member for Better Homes
Government to fund Chalcots cladding
Survey of tenants and residents (STAR) 2016

Forum Meetings
The next Forum meeting is on Monday 10 December 2018 at 7pm at Crowndale Centre, 218 Eversholt St, London NW1 1BD (around the corner from Mornington Crescent Underground Station). Please note that whilst leaseholders and other observers are welcome to attend, only Members have a right to speak.

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

The draft minutes of the last meeting are now posted here on the Council website. The agenda pack for the next meeting will be available a week beforehand on the same link.

At the meeting in October the following members were elected to the Chair for the year:
– Chair: Dr Peter Wright (clfchair@gmail.com)
– Vice-Chair: Todd Buchanan

A full list of Forum members can be found here.

Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery
Just before the Forum meeting on 10 December there is also the Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery running from 5.30pm to 7.30pm. 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.

Service Charges
It is that time of year when we receive from the Council summary details of the actualised ‘day to day service charge’ and of any major works costs.  The details are for the financial year ending 31 March 2018 and the accompanying invoice or credit note reflects the adjustment of the estimated charge which was invoiced in February 2017. If you are interested to see a cost breakdown and the invoices and calculations which underpin the summary you can ask Leaseholder Services to make these available for inspection (at their offices).

Camden has prepared some very useful guides to Services Charges, Major Works and Freeholders. A copy of the Guides can be found here.

Communal Electricity Long Term Agreement
The Council has entered into an agreement for the supply of communal electricity (lifts, stair lighting, etc.) until September 2020. The Council obtained dispensation from the full Section 151 consultation process on the following conditions:-

A. Camden is to provide to leaseholders within 21 days of entering into a contract information about;
i. the name of the energy supplier
ii. the date of the agreement
iii. the contract duration
iv. the date on which supply starts
v. the date on which the contract period ends
by uploading that information on its website
B. Camden is to provide free of charge to any leaseholder requesting it, a copy of the supply agreement which Camden has entered into with an energy supplier.

Camden has published the new “Contract Information” on its website at Boroughwide Section 151 Consultations.

Annual report of the Cabinet Member for Better Homes
Councillor Meric Apak presented his Annual Report for discussion at the Housing Scrutiny Committee on 25 October 2018. The report is here on the Council website.

You can watch the Scrutiny Committee meeting webcast recording here. Cllr. Apak’s presentation (Agenda item 10) and subsequent discussion starts at webcast 1hr 11min (drag the time slider).

Government to fund Chalcots cladding
The Cabinet member for Better Homes reported to the Housing Scrutiny Committee that Central Government has approved the bid for £80 million grant funding for the replacement of Chalcots cladding and curtain walling.  Until now the costs have been mainly funded from Council reserves.

Survey of tenants and residents (STAR) 2016
Did you know that Camden commissioned a survey of 3,354 Council tenants and leaseholders in 2016, to find out what they thought about housing services? The report is on the Council website here.

Forum Election Results

The election of Forum members for the period 2018 to 2021 is completed.

We have 6 new members, 2 previous members returning and 12 re-elected members.

To contact any of the members listed (e.g. one of those representing your area) simply email your message to camden@leaseholdersforum.org.uk and include the name of the member in the subject line.

Elected Forum Members and Housing District Represented

Camden Town: Anthony Auerbach, Isabella Luger, Clive Sneddon, Wolfram Westendorf
Gospel Oak: Lucy Collyer, Philip Dunne, Josette Guédès, Robert Lopez, Karl Vaughan
Hampstead: Stuart March, Zulakha “Cindy” Mughal, Chris Tarpey, Thomas Watkins
Holborn: Todd Buchanan, David Hart, Richard Walker, Peter Wright
Kentish Town: Aldires Dall’Agnol Bugia, Shravan Sood, Hilary Westlake

Click on a name above to jump straight to the member’s election statement below.

Anthony Auerbach (Camden Town)
I am a Camden leaseholder since 2013. I and my family have sought opportunities to improve our estate and enhance community cohesion. I set up the website oakshottcourt.info and have engaged with the council on several community and leaseholder issues. I set up and am now secretary of the Oakshott Court Leaseholders Association. I would welcome the opportunity to help hold our landlord to account and defend the interests of residents and leaseholders in cooperation with other leaseholders.

Isabella Luger (Camden Town)
I have been a leaseholder forum member for a year now. Originally I became a Forum member with the intention of wanting to improve the communication between leaseholders and Camden Council especially in regards to Major Works and repair works. As a member I joint the Forum’s ‘Major Works’ sub-group with the aim to monitor and contribute to improving the process which is linked to the ‘Major Works’ i.e. how works are measured, costs of the works, duration of the works, delays etc. So far the negotiations with the Council’s Major Works Team have been rather slow due to various reasons, hence I am reapplying to remain a Forum member to allow me to continue further with the discussions and hopefully bring them to a mutually beneficial conclusion in the very near future.

Dr Clive R Sneddon (Camden Town)
I am a non-resident leaseholder who has lived since 2009 in Cartmel whenever I need to be in London. I am putting my name forward as someone who can understand and speak for the frustrations of those for whom Camden’s rules get in the way of our contribution to the local community. Leaseholders are not second class citizens, and should not be treated as such. Modern technology will enable my virtual presence at meetings even when not in London.

Wolfram Westendorf (Camden Town)
In these times of austerity, it is more important than ever for Camden leaseholders to scrutinise and challenge the council on expenditures and actions. Despite many changes and promises of improvement of works executed, cost management and fairer treatment of leaseholders the realisation of these promises is continuously lacking behind. To this date I do not think that leaseholders in Camden are treated fairly and as partners. As member of Camden’s leaseholder forum, I want to engage in a true dialogue with Camden, positively influence decisions and make our voice heard.

Lucy Collyer (Gospel Oak)
I’m keen to work with fellow leaseholder’s and the Council to improve services whilst reducing costs; which I have experience in. I have over eleven years’ experience on various types of Boards representing others. As a Whitehall civil servant (working on international negotiations) I’m familiar with policy papers, leading working groups, and working across a wide range of people and institutions to secure mutually beneficial outcomes in a constructive and creative way. If elected, I will endeavour to represent you to the best of my abilities.

Philip Dunne (Gospel Oak)
I have been an elected member of the Camden Leaseholders Forum since 2015, previously to this I attended Forum meetings and found them very useful. I have made a number of suggestions and believe in being active at meetings. As a leaseholder I am aware of issues regarding service charges, and believe that I offer a valuable contribution to the forum. I work for a property management company, which deals with both freeholds and leaseholders, setting service charges, as well as paying them, so I have the unique perspective of someone who looks at both sides of issues, and finds amicable resolutions to both parties where possible.

Josette Guédès (Gospel Oak)
During the nine years I have been a leaseholder in a residential purpose-built block of flats in Camden, I have acquired some experience of how things are done – or not done – and I would like to contribute to making things better for all leaseholders in Camden even though my gut feeling is that issues ought to be tackled at the level of the estate one lives in, i.e. between people that have the same first-hand experience of what one is talking about. Having spent years in the property business before moving to Camden, I have first-hand experience to contribute to the community.

R Lopez (Gospel Oak)
As a resident and leasehold at Silverbirch Walk for more than 20 years I feel im in a good position to apply to become a member of this forum. I’m well intergrated within the community and believe I can make a difference by representing it.

Karl Vaughan (Gospel Oak)
I would like to continue my role on the forum.

Stuart March (Hampstead)
I am a retired insurance loss assessor with extensive building and development experience. I have attended Forum meetings for the past six years, taken part in many discussions and like to think that I bring unique experience to certain issues. I would like to stand again for a place on the Forum and if elected promise regular attendance and active participation

Zulakha “Cindy” Mughal (Hampstead)
I have been a committee member for the past three years and have worked with sub groups, tackling repairs and major works. We are still hearing about leaseholders concerns for works and cost I feel this will be an agenda that has to be monitored and a system put in place where we Camden will get it right. I hope to carry on working together with Camden and bring forward to the Forum expertise of regularly pursuing unfair repairs charges, as a chair for BHRTA I have had significant experience in this area and feel the gap needs to be closed! Hopefully being on the Forum will get Camden to improve their working practices for us all.

Chris Tarpey (Hampstead)
I would like to continue my role on the forum.

Thomas Watkins (Hampstead)
I have lived in Camden for 15 years, as a leaseholder myself I believe it is important that we are heard and are given an opportunity to influence the service we receive. I believe I possess experience and skills that could contribute and benefit leaseholders. I have previously represented tenants and leaseholders. I have worked in housing management, including local authorities, for 20 years. I have experience of managing performance in all areas including gardening, cleaning, caretaking, estate services and major works.

Todd Buchanan (Holborn)
I am standing to build on the work I have undertaken during the last forum where I represented St. Pancras. I have been an active member of the working group on service charge major works and consider the forum will benefit from the continuity of me being re-elected.

David Hart (Holborn)
Having been a Camden leaseholder for 21 years I have some experience of the issues and challenges which leaseholders face. My aim as a member of the Leaseholders’ Forum group is to promote better communications with our landlord and between leaseholders. When we have a question for Camden (such as about works or service charges) we need to know the right person to ask in order to get a clear and prompt answer. I hope that leaseholders might be encouraged to make greater use of the Forum website to know what is happening and to share their concerns and experiences.

Richard Walker (Holborn)
Before I retired I was a Chartered engineer managing road safety engineering and research projects for the Department for Transport. I am the Secretary of the Red Lion Tenants and Residents Association and know that tenants are similarly affected as leaseholders by the housing service provided by Camden. I was the Chair of the Camden Housing Resident Scrutiny Group and our complaints revue made 19 recommendations for improvement. It is important to have a constructive dialogue with Camden officers, which should be on the basis of asking probing questions regarding all aspects of the way that Camden operates in order to improve housing services and ensure value for money.

Peter Wright (Holborn)
Leaseholders face difficult days; wages and house prices are falling in real terms, and council funding is being cut. Costs are rising. New blood is welcome, but new solutions can restore old problems as well as offering vain hopes. A mix of new enthusiasm and experience to cope with events in Camden, across London and nationally seems best. I have experience of all working in all those three areas which I hope to contribute to a new Forum so it succeeds for you.

Aldires Dall’Agnol Bugia (Kentish Town)
(1) I attend the Forum for the past 15 years. (2) I help Leaseholders across the Borough with their very complexed issues. (3) The reason that I want to remain as a Member is that, I have passion to help and, to work hard finding solutions to resolve anyone’s problems. (4) Walker House is an example, I was the one who took the initiative to approach the Council to have all the windows and doors changed to double glazing. Now, every resident enjoy warmth homes during the winter and, savings on gas/electricity bills. (5) I helped all the Leaseholders in Torriano Estate Kentish Town to get answers from the Council regarding poor works and, no value for money when the Council did repairs a few years ago.

Shravan Sood (Kentish Town)
I would like to continue serving on the forum.

Hilary Westlake (Kentish Town)
I have been a Camden leaseholder since 2007. I live in a small block of five 1970s purpose built flats at Gaisford Street. There are two leaseholders and three tenants. I was on the forum for several years before 2012/13. I am a theatre director but work less now that I am in my 70s, giving me more time for involvement in other activities. In these years of austerity and the financial problems that face local councils as a result, the pressure on the leaseholder is markedly tighter. Service charges increase unreasonably, mistakes are regularly made, requests for explanations are often met with a lack of clarity inevitably producing anxiety and stress in the leaseholder, who sometimes is required to find large sums of money at short notice. I would like to help make the relationship that leaseholders have with the council more straightforward and transparent.