Attending Forum Meetings

General Forum meeting are open to the public to attend and watch, but not to take part in any way (read on though as we are usually more flexible than this!). Arrangements are in place for four types of people to attend and take part: Member, Officers, Councillors and Observers.
Members join the Forum every three years. A general invitation is sent to all leaseholders and any necessary election held. Current members joined in 2018. Members adopt the Constitution and Code of Conduct annually. Members define the agenda, discuss items on it and, if there is significant disagreement, vote to decide the Forum’s views.

One of the Members is elected as Chair each year, and sets the agenda in advance of each meeting, so that relevant Officers have notice to prepare any papers and to attend as necessary. Participants should therefore arrive having read any pre-pared pre-prepared papers and ready to make informed comments upon them.

Agendas should allow all requested topics to be discussed over the cycle of the meetings. A particular agenda does not cover all possible topics, but allows some to be heard in depth, or at a suitable time (e.g. if the Council is about to make a policy decision). There is a forward work programme set out as part of each agenda. Quite often, there are issues to follow up from previous discussions; attempts to re-debate decisions already taken are resisted.

The Chair conducts the meeting and invites people to speak. This ensures that the meeting keeps to the agenda, reaches tangible outcomes, and that the meeting is held in an orderly fashion (so that people can be heard when it is their turn to speak for example!).
Officers are employees of Camden Council coming to present papers and help inform the discussion on relevant current and prospective Camden Council policy. The “lead officer” is the Head of Leaseholder Services, though more senior officers may attend meetings. The Forum can ask for Council “persons papers and records”, but, in doing so, bears in mind the extra burden on officers, and the cost which leaseholders ultimately pay for through service charges. Requests should be pertinent to significant issues, proportionate to the likely outcome, and the simplest and cheapest approach for getting the necessary information to make a decision.

An officer from Democratic Services attends to take minutes and issues the agenda. That officer can help with questions on committee processes too.
Councillors attend as and when they wish, and often do. All Council powers ultimately rest with the Leader (a councillor elected each year by councillors after nomination by the largest single party, which is currently Labour). The Leader appoints Cabinet Members with defined responsibilities, and delegates powers to officers too. The current Cabinet Member for Better Homes, which deals with Housing, is Meric Apak.
Observers are Camden Council leaseholders. Unlike the general public, with the Chair’s permission and the tolerance of other attendees, they may speak to issues on the agenda, but not vote. If Observers wish to raise concerns about something not on the agenda then the following should be borne in mind:

• The Forum aims “To focus upon and examine matters of general concern to Camden Council leaseholders and make representations on their behalf to relevant interested parties” (the first line of the Forum’s Constitution) – i.e. it is not to address individual issues.
• It is not appropriate for personal issues to be discussed in public.
• If the issue is essentially a complaint, follow our guide to Complaining Effectively, and only seek Forum help if resolution has proved impossible.
• No Officer can be prepared to address detailed and personal issues without notice, so consider if you can give notice. You could:
o Find a Member and get them to raise the subject; or
o Submit the request to the Chair (clfchair@gmail.com) who can then consider how best to get it addressed, whether through the Forum or outside it. If the Forum route is chosen, the deputation process generally used by the Council for full Council meetings will be adopted as set out here. This means you will have three minutes to present the issue and submit a paper in advance so a response can be agreed.
• If the issue is not felt relevant to the Forum, the Chair may seek agreement that the leaseholder and the Head of Leaseholder Services discuss the issue outside the meeting. If no resolution is possible, that may be brought back to the Forum as an issue in itself.

Typically the reason that a request is rejected is that it is personal in nature (between the Council and the person submitting the request and, on occasions, other residents).

Biographies

These biographies are based on the election held in 2015 for the 3 years to 2018.

To contact any of the members listed (e.g. one of those representing your area) simply send an email to camden@leaseholdersforum.org.uk and include in the title the name of the person that would you like to receive your email.

Camden Town: Isabella Luger, Sarah Astor, Wolfram Westendorf
Gospel Oak: Karl Vaughan, Philip Dunne, Shafeeq Siddiqui
Hampstead: Chris Tarpey, Mary Lyons, Rosalie Miles, Stuart March, Zulakha “Cindy” Mughal
Holborn: Peter Wright (Chair), Richard Walker, Todd Buchanan
Kentish Town: Shravan Sood
Co-Opted: Aldires Bugia (Co-Opted, Deputy Chair), Carol Delany and Terry Rowland
Member Statements

Aldires Bugia (Co-Opted, Deputy Chair)
I am a first class community worker with drive, determination and dedication to all areas of community work that I am involved in. I’ve been particularly active in campaigning for leaseholder and tenants’ rights in the Walker House estate (Somers Town). I help everyone within the borough of Camden and do not make any difference between tenants or leaseholders.
Chris Tarpey (Hampstead)
I’m an accountant by trade and have been a leaseholder for 10 years, a member of our TLA, and the Hampstead DMC, as well as the Chalcotts Refurbishment Steering committee for (nearly) all that time.

I have also been a member of the Compact Monitoring Board, the District Monitoring Panel, and Swiss Cottage Community Centre committee. On all six I was an officer, up to vice-chair. I was one of the team that fought the LVT case in 2014, that gave a £100 pa reduction in service charges for 4,800 leaseholders.

I want to help Camden find solutions to our problems.
Isabella Luger (Camden Town)
I have been a leaseholder for over 10 years hence I have in depth experience of the problems/situations a leaseholder is faced with. I would consider it great achievement if I could contribute to help to create a more direct therefore more efficient communication route between the Council and leaseholder. Currently it is taking me a lot of effort and time to even resolve the simplest of issues with the Council.

I am an architect from profession therefore I have great understanding of how buildings are put together, the legal side of building contracts, Building Regulation and Planning Law these are skills/knowledge which I can bring to the table.
Karl Vaughan (Gospel Oak)
I am currently a Forum representative and have been for the last 15 years. The only person on the current Forum serving Camden’s leaseholders longer than myself is the Chairman Dr Peter Wright.
I am very familiar with Leaseholder issues, court cases, and a myriad of other problems concerning home ownership.
Mary Lyons (Hampstead)
I was born and grew up in the borough of Camden and became a leaseholder in 1997. I have been attending most meetings of the Leaseholders Forum for the past four years as an observer, during which time I’ve learnt a great deal about how the borough operates and the needs and interests of various leaseholders, as well as meeting members of the Forum. I would like to become a member of the Leaseholders Forum because I would like the opportunity to speak at meetings and be more actively involved in the Forum and the issues that arise that affect leaseholders in Camden.
Peter Wright (Holborn, Chair)
I am the only remaining original Forum member from its foundation. I therefore have a good knowledge of what it has done, and how it has done it, for new members. I believe strongly in
-Seeking new members every three years;
-That each Forum should set its agenda, reflecting what leaseholders want; and
-Then pursue those objectives in the best way to achieve them.

For myself, I want to see responsive, high quality and cost-effective services delivered sensitively to leaseholders and tenants, and the best possible deal for leaseholders living in a community which is being dislocated by re-development.
Philip Dunne (Gospel Oak)
I previously attended Camden Leaseholders Forums and found them very useful, I made a number of suggestions and believe in being active at meetings. I was able to resolve a number of issues regarding my service charge, and believe that I could off 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.
Richard Walker (Holborn)
I am standing with the hope of influencing the Leaseholders’ Forum to look at issues that do not just affect people attending meetings, but to focus on the issues that affect the wider leaseholder community. To this end, I think that the Constitution and Code of Conduct need an overhaul to prevent time wasting with irrelevant issues.
Rosalie Miles (Hampstead)
I am currently a Hampstead Committee member on the Leaseholders Forum panel and I have been attending the Leaseholders Forum for many years.

My experience with Camden Council over the years, attending many meetings, especially with the Leaseholders’ Forum, has given me an insight as to the workings of Camden! I shall continue to contribute for the benefit of leaseholders and help Camden Council in any decisions that might be pending.
Sarah Astor (Camden Town)
I am motivated to obtain the best possible deal for Leaseholders through thoughtful discussion and careful negotiation. My experience as a Trustee for several charities over the past 30 years would help me to participate effectively in Forum meetings.

I have lived in Camden since 1986 in various properties. Being a leaseholder since 2012 has been an unnecessarily difficult experience. I have encountered considerable disregard for my leaseholder’s rights. I am currently being instructed to pay for major works which are not performed at competitive market prices nor in a timely manner.
Shafeeq Siddiqui (Gospel Oak)
I am presently a Forum Member and Spokesperson on Regeneration issues of Gospel Oak that is undergoing Regeneration.

I led a Delegation to the Cabinet for Reviewing the leaseholders’ options on council purchases of our leases. Along with support from the Chair and other Members of the Forum, Julian Fulbrook (former Camden cabinet member for Housing) offered options of co-ownership/equity; this is now a better option for leaseholders who wish to stay in the area.
Shravan Sood (Kentish Town)
I am a long-time resident of London Borough of Camden (25 years) and a buy-to-let investor, including in a property in Camden Town of which Camden Council is Freeholder. I feel that the views of landlords such as myself (as opposed to residents in Camden-owned properties) are not adequately represented. I am former Managing Director of a leading international bank (now retired). I believe that I have the necessary energy and skills to vociferously represent the interests of my fellow constituents with a view to making the Council more responsive to our needs.
Stuart March (Hampstead)
I am a retired loss assessor and a member of the Forum since September 2012. My assessing experience enables me to accurately comment upon proposed works and costings. In the case of my own block, Fitzjohns Mansions, my intervention has resulted in both reduction of estimates, ultimate costs and in two instances even the extent of the proposed works where I have been able to prove them to be overstated, overspecified and not necessary. I feel I have further to contribute to the Forum.
Todd Buchanan (Holborn)
I am a chartered surveyor and the current estate manager for a landed estate in west London with responsibility for a number of freehold properties subject to leaseholds. I obviously have a vested interest in ensuring leaseholders and the wider community’s interests are supported. To this end, I am able to contribute my professional experience to this voluntary organisation. In particular I have experience of challenging service charge budgets and liaising with leaseholders.

I am the Secretary of the Red Lion TRA and seek to break down the artificial divide between tenants and leaseholders that Camden itself fosters.
Wolfram Westendorf (Camden Town)
As leaseholder in Camden I am interested to ensure that Camden provides value for money to us and treats leaseholders fairly as this appears not always to be the case. There are many changes planned or under way in Camden which can impact our life and properties. Camden has the tendency to lip service residents’ engagement but ultimately do what they want to do. As member of the Leaseholders’ Forum I want to engage in a true dialogue with Camden, positively influence decisions and make our voice heard.
Zulakha “Cindy” Mughal (Hampstead)
I have lots of experience working with Camden Council, having bought my flat 15 years ago and lived in Camden for 30 years. I am chair of Bridge House RTA, also working on behalf of tenants in my block.

Recent wins include forcing Camden to abandon their plans to reduce the amount of car parking available to leaseholders (as their policy did not consider that there might be any exceptional circumstances). I hope to bring to the Forum expertise of regularly pursuing unfair repairs charges, having had significant experience in this area! Being on the Forum will get Camden to improve their working practices for us all.

Website Principles and Editorial Policy

This has quite unashamedly been borrowed in large part from the BBC and Wikipedia. Camden Leaseholders’ Forum are not for reinventing the wheel unless we have to!

Please read on for our:
Principles
Editorial Policy
 

Principles (applicable to both general content and the Discussion Board)

1. Trust
We are committed to achieving the highest standards of due accuracy and strive to avoid misleading our audience.

2. Truth and Accuracy
We seek to establish the truth and are committed to achieving due accuracy in all our output. Accuracy is not simply a matter of getting facts right; when necessary, we will weigh relevant facts and information. Our output, as appropriate to its subject and nature, will be well sourced, based on sound evidence. We will strive to be honest and open about what we don’t know and avoid unfounded speculation.

3. Editorial Integrity and Independence
Camden Leaseholders’ Forum is independent of Camden Council. Our fundamental remit is to represent leaseholders and freeholders that pay Camden Council service charges. Any other interests will be made clear in all our communications.

4. Engagement
We mainly exist to safeguard the interests of leaseholders and ensure Camden Council service charges are value for money; in order to achieve this we engage with Camden Council in the spirit of positivity with coherent constructive practical evidence-based criticism being the main tool. For more details about our methodology in trying to achieve this please see “About Us” elsewhere on the Forum website.

5. Harm and Offence
We aim to reflect the world as it is but we balance our right to publish content with our responsibility to avoid unjustifiable offence.

6. Fairness
Our output will be based on fairness, openness, honesty and straight dealing. Contributors and audiences will be treated with respect.

7. Privacy
We will respect privacy and will not infringe it without good reason. Private behaviour, information, correspondence and conversation will not be brought into the public domain without permission from the person(s) concerned. We will not distribute leaseholders’ contact details without their explicit permission.

8. Transparency
We will be transparent about the nature and provenance of the content we offer. Where appropriate, we will identify who has created it.

9. Accountability
We are accountable to our audiences and will deal fairly and openly with them. We will be open in acknowledging mistakes when they are made and encourage a culture of willingness to learn from them.

10. Practicality
We will not be able to tackle every issue that Camden leaseholders face and wish to admit this honestly. On a regular basis we will reappraise our core aims and align our resources with those core aims.

ANY CONTENT NOT MEETING THESE PRINCIPLES WILL BE REMOVED.
 

Editorial Policy (mandatory for the main website and advisory for the Discussion Board)

1. Clarity
Avoid esoteric or quasi-legal terms and dumbed-down language. Be plain, direct, unambiguous, and specific. Avoid platitudes and generalities.

2. Length
Be as concise as possible—but no more concise. Verbosity is not a reliable defence against misinterpretation. Omit needless words. Direct, concise writing may be clearer than rambling examples. Footnotes and links to other pages may be used for further clarification.

3. Practicality
Emphasise the spirit of the rule. Expect editors to use common sense. If the spirit of the rule is clear, say no more.

4. Scope
Maintain scope and avoid redundancy. Clearly identify the purpose and scope early in the page. Content should be within the scope of its policy. When the scope of one advice page overlaps with the scope of another, minimise redundancy. When one policy refers to another policy, it should do so briefly, clearly and explicitly.

5. Hyperlinks/References
Avoid overlinking. Links to policies, guidelines, essays, and articles should be used only when clarification or context is needed. Links to other advice pages may inadvertently or intentionally defer authority to them. Make it clear when links defer, and when they do not.

6. Contradictions (not applicable to the Discussion Board)
Not contradict each other. The community’s view cannot simultaneously be “A” and “not A”. When apparent discrepancies arise between pages, editors at all the affected pages should discuss how they can most accurately represent the community’s current position, and correct all of the pages to reflect the community’s view. This discussion should be on one talk page, with invitations to that page at the talk pages of the various affected pages; otherwise the corrections may still contradict each other.