Consort service charges… Yet more unease!
The predictive 2012-2013 service charges for Consort services are a maze to unravel.
Service Charges for your flat this year will depend on the building, the size of your flat, and if you are a lease holder, tenant, or shared owner.
Furthermore, it would appear that Consort are still ‘sorting out’ their maths and charging some residents for their past under-levying. Rises are likely for many despite a 2012-2013 predictive budget that shows no overall increase for the Dalston Square Complex. Residents in some buildings may pay less than in the past year, but shared ownerships are seemingly facing big increases.
Our recent survey shows that residents feel strongly that they are not getting value for money from Consort. Phase 1 residents are especially angered by the overall 40% increases in charges since they moved in, in 2010.
Prospective residents beware! Some say that Consort and Barratt deliberately understate service charge rates at the point of sale. The Residents Association have been meeting with Consort regional managers to address this and other areas of contention, such as poor building completion.
Consort seeks to claw back the losses of 2010 under-levy.
Due to a budget underestimate two years ago, Consort are now asking many residents to pay hundreds of £s for a historical under-levy. Many are threatening to not pay any increase.
While the DSRA does not have the resources to organise a co-ordinated refusal campaign, we understand why individual residents are taking resistive action. Anyone interested in organising a campaign is welcome to use our website and/or forum.
Bicycle storage problem persists...
Barratt seemingly unwilling to take the issue seriously.
While much about the Square is designed to save energy, and Hackney planners stipulated minimal car and maximum bike parking and lock up facilities, residents face real challenges when securing their bikes. With bike theft growing, the need for accessible and secure lock-up bike rooms is obvious, and yet these have not been provided in the volume needed. Some Phase 1 buildings have no secure rooms, and in Phase 2, lock-ups are overcrowded causing much frustration to owners extracting their bikes in the morning rush. As a result, bicycles are being taken up the lifts to flats (and by so doing damaging walls, lifts and cluttering balconies). The DSRA have approached Consort over this problem, who has discussed the lack of adequate facilities with Barratt Homes. No agreement to improve facilities has yet been made. Taking your bike upstairs is often the only solution. But this cannot be a permanent arrangement: Barratt should provide us with proper bike storage facilities. Anyone wanting to join our campaign, please relay your name and concerns to Consort via the Concierge, or contact us via our Forum.
E-on high energy costs…
The monopoly spells bad news for residents.
Dalston residents know that their energy bills are higher than first expected when we were told about the efficiency of the Square’s ‘Green Energy’ generator. E-on claim that their high charges are due to the high costs of the cutting-edge micro-generation system in our communal basement. This should not be so.
The hot water we buy at an unregulated price is actually ‘waste’ heat that is the by-product of electricity generation. E-on is making money from the heat that is usually thrown away in conventional power stations. Further to this, E-on has a monopoly on our heating provision so can charge whatever they can get away with.
Any resident interested in challenging the prices we pay and the E-on monopoly, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. It will take a concerted effort to break this one.
Cycle path to zip through the Square?
At a recent meeting with Hackney Council Planners, the Residents Association challenged the idea of running a cycleway through the square and onward through the Eastern Curve Garden. The DSRA will be writing to the Council to express serious concerns about safety and the disturbance of playing children.
Terrace plants to be saved.
The DSRA has won its battle to have the terrace planters saved from complete neglect and decay. Barratt has accepted that a tap and hose system should be installed on roof terraces so water is available for the plants. It has also agreed (verbally at least) to replace the plants that have died due to the lack of proper facilities for their watering.
DSRA survey results.
The questionnaire posted out to all residents in February has revealed some interesting views on life on the Square. The concierge service came out well, regarded as friendly and helpful by most residents, as are the indoor cleaners.
Over 50 questionnaires were returned which is enough to give a good picture of resident concerns across the complex, and the information gained from the survey will help the DSRA to focus its efforts when talking to Consort and Barratt.
Building repairs and the quality of maintenance scored much less well. The scuff marks on corridor walls (often caused by bikes) stained carpets and dying plants on terraces were sighted as big concerns, and seen to be eroding the high standards set when the buildings were opened.
Bicycle storage facilities were considered inadequate (see our separate report above).
All the respondents felt the energy costs were most unsatisfactory and many expressed concern about the E-on monopoly on heat (you can opt for a different electricity supplier).
Overall, people felt that Consort was not seen to provide good value for money. The DSRA would like to see Consort helping to challenge both Barratt and E-on, and be on the side of residents in tackling building defects and energy costs.