Open to all residents of the Barrat Homes Dalston Square development (owners and renters alike), come and share your opinions of the way the development is being run, and hear what the DSRA are working at on your behalf.
Hackney Film Club And The World Food Market
Further to my last post, the meeting I mentioned went ahead as scheduled and we now have new dates for the public film screening, as well as for the market. Starting with the market, this will run from Wednesday 20th to Saturday 23rd May, with opening times of Wednesday to Friday 10am to 3pm, and Saturday from 10am to 6pm. The film screening will also be on Saturday 23rd May, running from 9pm until 11pm, with some of the food stalls from the World Food Market remaining in the square to become part of the film screening event. The PA system that will be used for the film screening has been specially calibrated for use in the square, and the council have assured us that they are confident that volume levels will be well-managed, despite the late finishing time of the movie. Fingers crossed the weather plays ball.
Dalston’s Heritage Buildings
Further to the recent meeting of Councillor Peter Snell’s Dalston Ward Forum on March 25th, Peter has organised 2 further meetings to look specifically at the issue of Dalston’s conservation area. Full details of the meetings can be found posted at our discussion forum HERE.
Bicycle Stores Fob Resetting
As you should of all seen (after notices were posted to every mailbox in the development), after the recent resetting of all fobs for building entrance doors, a similar process will not run to reset all bicycle storage area fobs. All fob access to bicycle stores will be disabled on Friday 15 May at midday. If you require access to a bicycle store from that date onwards, please note the name or number of the store you wish to use, and take your fob to the concierge desk where you will be asked to sign a disclaimer form and your fob can be re-programmed for that particular one. PLEASE DO NOT ASK FOR YOUR FOB TO BE RE-PROGRAMMED PRIOR TO FRIDAY 15 MAY. Please also note that the bicycle store in Sledge Tower closest to Dalston Junction station (No. 7), will no longer be available after Friday 15 May as it is being removed to create a proper thoroughfare. If this is the one you currently use, please choose an alternative. If you have any queries prior to this operation, please do not hesitate to contact Development Manager Gerald Bernard (his contact details can be found in the right hand column of the DSRA website homepage.
Please be advised that the public screening of a film in Dalston Square this evening, to celebrate the launch of the Hackney Film Club’s ‘Turkey East Asia Season’, has been postponed. Weather forecasters have warned of the chance of high winds and rain for this evening so the performance has been provisionally rescheduled for May 23rd. That date coincides with the World Food Market’s wish to be in the square so avenues need to be explored to determine if both events can run concurrently. To that end there is a meeting within the council this coming week, and I should be able to get back to you all with an update soon thereafter.
Further to my last post I have two updates to share with you all.
Dalston Square Culture and Community Engagement Forum
Dalston Square World Food Market
I now have more concrete dates for the proposed market: Monday 18th to Saturday 23rd May, with trading from 11am to 3pm Monday to Friday and 11am to 6pm on the Saturday. You will notice that this is somewhat longer than the originally proposed 3 day market, but with such short hours it seems unlikely to cause any problems to residents (other than the problem of deciding what yumminess to partake of of course). If anyone has concerns, please leave them in the comments section immediately below this post (if you are reading this via email, simply hit ‘Reply’) and I will share them with the relevant person at Hackney Council. All comments need to be in by the close of business this Friday please.
Smooth You Residents’ Discount
Now firmly established and in their second year of trading here in the square since their move from Islington, Smooth You have been in touch with a great offer for all Dalston Square residents: A 10% discount on all of their services and treatments until further notice. With experienced staff and the newest equipment (though no expert when it comes to beauty related equipment, the manager invited me for a quick tour and I was amazed at the quality and class of their facilities), more than just hairdressing they offer just about every service and treatment there is to help you look and feel your best. Check out their website or pop in to discover the full extent of what they have on offer. Click the first of the thumbnails below to see the poster they have produced to advertise this residents’ only deal.
Dalston Ward Forum Report
Further to my previous post regarding the Dalston Ward Forum meeting, DS resident Kim attended and has written a report on the topics discussed. With some 30 attendees it seems conversation was lively and informed. Apparently notes were taken and minutes will be produced and sent out when complete, but in the meantime Kim’s report can be found over at our discussion forum HERE. A big thanks to Kim for taking the time to write this up for us. I will share the official minutes with everyone when and if I can lay my hands on a copy.
Dalston Square Culture and Community Engagement Forum
Back on April 1st, representing the DSRA I attended a meeting of Hackney Council’s ‘Dalston Square Culture and Community Engagement Forum’. At the meeting we were presented with 3 proposals Hackney Council have received to stage public events in Dalston Square. All 3 proposals were welcomed by all those present, although some clarification was needed on the details of a ‘World Food Market’, offering an artisan market in conjunction with a hot food court, to be run over the course of a 3 day weekend in May. Proposed by Lambeth Smith Hampton (the company that owns and manages the commercial properties in the square) and organised by Epicurean Events Ltd., it is hoped the food festival will be both of interest to the local community and an attraction to people from other areas of London. If successful, this could become a regular (monthly?) event. I will keep you all abreast of developments of this proposal. The second, confirmed, proposal is a project entitled ‘Super Dads’, set to run during the first 4 Saturdays in August (the 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd) from 2pm to 4pm. Run by Universal Board Games, the events will be open to all families living in Hackney, and are aimed at encouraging families to enjoy time playing games together while boosting literacy and numeracy in a fun, low-cost manner. Although aimed at promoting the relationship between fathers and their children, all members of the family are invited and welcome to participate. As well as traditional favourites such as chess, backgammon, and dominoes, less well known games, such as Mancala from Ghana, Crokinole from Canada, Go from Japan, Carrom from India, as well as many more games from around the world, will be available to reflect the cultural diversity of the area. The third and final proposal will be launch event of…….
Hackney Film Club – Turkey East Asia Season
Scheduled for Saturday 2nd May, from 8pm to 10.30pm, organised by Hackney Council itself (a library initiative), there will be a public film screening in the square. This will be a screening of the film ‘Bana Masal Anlatma‘ (‘Don’t Tell Me Tales’), a Turkish film with English subtitles, rated 12A (this movie receives an impressive score of 8.2/10 on IMDb.com). This launch will be followed by further screenings of films from Turkey and East Asia inside the C.L.R. James Library on the first Thursday of each month. There will also be further film screenings at both the Rio Cinema and the Hackney Playhouse. Details of all film screenings will be publicised in the C.L.R. James Library. Below you can see their event posters in English (the 2nd thumbnail), Turkish (the 3rd) and Kurdish (the 4th).
Just a short post to advertise the next Dalston Ward Forum, which gives all local residents the opportunity to engage with their (your) elected councillors Peter Snell and Soraya Adejare. The next meeting of the forum is to be held on Wednesday March 25th from 7pm until 9pm at Arcola’s Studio 5, just 50m from the main Arcola entrance (yes that is tomorrow, apologies for the short notice). Full details of the forum and the meeting agenda can be found on Hackney Council’s website HERE. Peter, in particular, has shown a keen interest in Dalston Square and the work of the DSRA (he has attended a number of meetings with us), and has worked on our behalf to help us engage with the local council to address a number of issues we feel need attention around the square (the restaurant ventilation issue in phase 1, the dead trees in the square, and maintenance of the podium area between Thomas and Sledge Towers, to mention just a few). Since his election last spring, Peter has an impressive 100% meeting attendance record in his role within Hackney Council, which is surely a good sign of his commitment to the ward.
Hello neighbours, 3 quick items of news to pass on.
Sledge Tower Lobby Odours
Further to my last post, Barratt’s investigations in to the cause of the odours in Sledge Tower have finally proved successful. A waste pipe hidden behind a lobby wall was found to be leaking and has now been repaired. After a good clean-up of the residual spillage, I have seen for myself that finally the lobby is odour free. There is still some making good to do the the wall but this will be completed soon.
Phases 1 & 3 Parking Spaces
Due to a technical error in Consort’s systems there has been an overcharging to phase 3 space owners and an undercharging to phase 1 space owners in the 2015/16 budget. For further details please see THIS thread over at our discussion forum.
Upcoming Temporary Gym Closure
With the phase 1 redecoration now well under way, the gym is coming close to receiving it’s fresh lick of paint. In order for this work to be undertaken the gym will be closed for 2 days next week, namely Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th March.
As promised, the second part of the news update.
Phase 1 Re-decoration
As Collins Tower residents will be aware, the 5 yearly redecoration of all communal areas of the residential blocks of Phase 1 has started. As per the maintenance schedules, all shared corridors get a fresh lick of paint every 5 years to keep the place looking clean and fresh. The contractors will be working on one block at a time, working south from Collins down to Labyrinth.
Phase 3 Lobby Odours
An earlier problem thought rectified has reared it’s ugly head again, hitting Sledge Tower the hardest. The new work on the podium area of the square at the top of the steps between Thomas and Sledge Towers is in connection with this (as was the complete re-waterproofing that was undertaken up there a few months ago). Barratt are also doing internal investigations with cameras in the walls etc.. The problem is locating the source of the odours: I have walked the full length of the sub-basement myself (which runs beneath phases 2 and 3) and although there is some water ingress down there (a problem in it’s own right that is also being investigated), there are no odours whatsoever. Not even damp or musty: Nothing. Likewise the bases of the elevator shafts: Clean and odour free. Just to stress that this is a Barratt issue and not a Consort one. On-site Consort Manager Gerald Bernard may know what has happened so far (mostly), but may not know all the details of what Barratt plan to do to resolve the problem, or is in any way ‘responsible’ for the issue and it’s resolution, so mis-directed pressure on him will not get you very far. If you have questions regarding the issue or how Barratt plan to address it, you will need to speek to Barratt customer service (number in right hand column of our website homepage).
Parking on Rhodes Estate
As any driver will tell you, parking anywhere around Dalston Square is tricky: There are some metered spots but not many. Until recently, some visitors making just short stops here have chanced their arm and parked in and around the Rhodes Estate: Our neighbours to the east, across Beechwood Road. A word to the wise: The residents of the estate have had enough of this illegal parking and engaged a clamping/towing company to monitor the estate. If you or your friends have parked there in the past, don’t try it again. You have been warned.
Represent Hackney on the Climate Change Demonstration
With support from Hackney Energy, Hackney Local Government Unison Branch, and Hackney Trades Union Council, Sustainable Hackney are calling on all residents of Hackney to join them, dressed in yellow, on the Climate Change March this coming Saturday 7th March. See their website HERE for details, or check out the poster below (click the thumbnail to see a larger version).
It has been a while since the last post but the DSRA has not been idle: quite the opposite! The issue is finding the time to not only attend meetings, but also to write reports, combine them with other info we think relevant, and then get it all out to you in a legible(ish) fashion. So happy new year everyone, and on with the backlog of news (sorry)!
DSRA Finance Committee
Uppermost in many lease-holder’s minds at this time of year is Consort’s budget for the coming financial year: This is the cost of managing the site which is paid for through twice-yearly bills to all Dalston Square lease-holders. Building on the excellent relationship the DSRA has already established with Consort since their management and accountant changes this time last year, we have been in regular meetings with them over the last few months as Consort, in the name of transparency, explained budget items as they were added into the process. That budget has now been set and Consort will be sending out bills shortly with an explanation letter attached. In the meantime, this brief report from Jane Collins (who along with David Eastwood has put in many hours on behalf of the DSRA poring over spreadsheets and questioning Consort’s accountant on budgetary line items: I am sure all lease-holders will join me in saying a big thanks to you both):
The budget for 2015/16 is now agreed and invoices for the new financial year will be sent out by Consort over the coming days. There is an overall increase in the budget of 3.8%. The increases result from staff salary increases to bring site staff closer to the London Living Wage, and the need to increase reserves in some phases owing to redecoration costs. Some savings were achieved on individual budget items including window cleaning, door entry and plant and machinery contracts.
There is an increase in the management fee for all units, from £233 to £238 in the new financial year. This is lower than the increase originally proposed by Consort, following representations by DSRA.
There is very considerable variation in the Service Charge increases per unit, with most increases between 2.8% and 10%. The most significant differences are between phases, bringing the newer phases into line with the cost per square metre of phase 1.
If leaseholders have specific questions regarding their invoice they should contact site Manager Gerald Bernard (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the first instance, or Charlotte Perrott (email@example.com)
DSRA Buildings & Maintenance Committee
We also recently held our regular quarterly meeting with Consort to discuss all buildings and maintenance issues, and were pleased to have representatives of Barratt Homes and Hackney Council able to accept our invitations to attend. With the co-operation of the other parties the DSRA maintains 3 separate logs: One each for Consort, Barratt, and the Council. Over the past year all 3 logs have been shrinking steadily in size as line items have been addressed and removed from the active log, and this last quarter was no exception. The updated copies of the 3 logs along with a written report from DSRA Chair Ben Collins are all available for download from the ‘Document Depository’ in the ‘Residents Only’ section of our discussions forum HERE. If that link does not work for you, you need to read THIS thread. After reading that, register for forum membership HERE (a simple 2 minute process), then make an application HERE (again very straight-forward, just follow the other examples).
It has been said before but I will say it again: Any/all residents are welcome to attend any meeting (although space dictates numbers at some point of course). Please just let us know beforehand so we can bring you up to speed on what has been previously discussed, to save wasting valuable meeting time on repeating previous discussions. Buildings & Maintenance meetings generally start around midday (but as early as 11.00am) midweek, and can go on for a couple of hours or more. Finance meetings tend to start at 6pm, again midweek, and can go on for an hour and a half or more.
I have a few other brief items of news but will save them for a second post: These meetings are the more important updates I feel, but I do not want this post to get too long.
To be continued…..
Proposed Rhodes Estate Outdoor Gym
We have been contacted by our local councillor, Peter Snell, to see if we can help our neighbours in the Rhodes Estate (the estate to our East on the other side of Beechwood Road) with a project that will also be to our benefit. Working with The Great Outdoor Gym Company, the Rhodes Estate Tenants & Residents’ Association is aiming to procure and install outdoor gym equipment of a type that is becoming popular throughout London. They believe that beyond the obvious health benefits, the equipment will also strengthen community ties (the equipment will be available to locals beyond the bounds of Rhodes Estate), thus also boosting security and making the area a safer place to live in. Knowing of our own residents’ gym, and believing it was staffed with fitness professionals, we have been asked if we could give input to ensure the range of equipment they install will offer a balanced exercise routine. Lacking those on-site professionals my question is this: Do we have any fitness professionals in residence in the square who could help, or do any of those who bring personal trainers to the gym with them believe their trainer would be willing to offer some advice? If yes, please contact me at DalstonSquareRA@gmail.com and I will put you/them in touch with the Rhodes Estate team.
Circle Housing 2015 Service Charges
While it is still a mystery how they can produce them before receiving costings from the development management company (Consort), it seems Circle Housing have started issuing service charge bills to their tenants for next year. Unfortunately it seems that there have been some errors in their calculations and some residents have received bills that are greatly in excess of what they should be (over 50% higher in at least one case we have heard of). If you have received your bill and you believe it to be higher than it should be, please contact Circle Housing and ask them to check the figures: Do not contact Consort as they will not be able to help you.
Who Is Responsible For What, In & Around Dalston Square
It seems there is still some confusion regarding who is responsible for what, in and around the square. To help alleviate this confusion I have made a post over at our discussions forum that will hopefully clear this up once and for all: It can be found HERE.
One Last Thing
Upcoming Christmas Events
With the current light-box exhibition from Daily Life Ltd. due to finish next week (December 16th), there is just one more event planned for the square this year: Make a note of the date Saturday December 20th, 4.30pm to 6pm. Organised by Age UK East London, there will be carol singing, mince pies, and mulled wine (tea and coffee will also be available). Choirs from across Hackney will be singing festive carols hoping you will sing along. All monies raised through sales of refreshments (and of course the collection buckets that will be present) will go to help Age UK East London continue their as-necessary-as-ever work throughout the region, and spread the Christmas cheer to those less fortunate than us. Please show your support and pop down if you are able to.
And speaking of events and charity, the Eastern Curve Garden are running a whole host of events in the run-up to Christmas. To get in to the festive spirit and support them in their fabulous work of maintaining this delightful little oasis, check out their list of upcoming events HERE.
Building Security: Tail-gating
This is a subject that has been broached before, but it seems it needs to be re-iterated. After this week’s break-in to the Consort staffroom in Thomas Tower (and subsequent theft of staff personal belongings), and the ejection of non-residents from Collins Tower, it is clear that many people are still not getting the message that tailgating is a problem throughout the square that puts us all at risk. If someone tries to follow you in to your building (or tries to enter whilst you are exiting) ask to see their fob before allowing them entry. It is all very well being polite and holding the door open for people, but it is simply asking for trouble. Although these events are rare, apartments have been robbed, and stairwells have been used for drug taking and dealing. How long before we have a mugging or somebody gets hurt? And all of this is so easily avoided: Stop the tail-gaters. And if you find someone holding the door for you, thank that person for their politeness but also enlighten them to their thoughtlessness: They are putting you and all the other residents of your building at risk. NO FOB – NO ENTRY! It could not be simpler. Just to state the obvious, do not put yourself in danger during any confrontation: If you are threatened in any way, or even feel threatened, get yourself out of the situation and report the incident immediately to the concierge service either in person or by telephone on 02072547341 and they will investigate further.
As many will be aware, there was a bit of a panic a couple of weeks ago when news came through from Hackney Council that Barratt had withdrawn their planning application for the proposed ventilation system to cure the restaurant smoke and odour problem plaguing phase 1 buildings (Gaumont through Labyrinth). After many emails and phone calls, including the help of local councillor Peter Snell, it has been determined that this was an error on the council’s part who accidentally deleted the application. This has though now been reinstated, and we are hoping for a decision soon: Preferably a positive one. More news as soon as we have it.
To continue the tradition of advertising Dalston Square businesses and the businesses of Dalston Square residents, here is a quick plug for Labyrinth Tower resident Patricia. Patricia is starting new sessions of her family oriented yoga classes early next year, which will be held in the Young Hackney building in Forest Road. Patricia is an experienced yoga teacher, working primarily with newcomers and children, she hopes to attract your whole family to her new sessions: All ages, and all experience levels are welcome. To enrol for these new classes, check out her website HERE. If you are interested, and a Dalston Square resident yourself, take the flyer you will find in your letterbox during the coming week to your first session for a special (and very neighbourly) ‘Residents Only’ discount of 40% on that session (£6 instead of £10). The new sessions start on January 10th 2015, and will continue every Saturday from 11.15am to 12.15pm: What better way could there be to energise your weekend!
Not much needed with regard explanation I believe, but just to say that, continuing the tradition of trying to bring Dalston Square’s residents together, the DSRA is pleased to announce it’s Winter/Christmas social event. Check out the poster below (give the thumbnail a click), and soon on your block’s noticeboard. A chance to meet a neighbour or 3, and meet some of the folk that attend meetings as representatives of the DSRA (pursuing causes in the name of all residents). Meeting in the wood-burning-stove heated greenhouse of the Eastern Curve Garden on Dalston Lane, we offer you a chance to meet and say ‘Hi’ to a few of the faces (residents/neighbours ) often seen here in the square. The Garden’s cafe serves tea, coffee, herbal drinks, beer, cider, wine, and their own fresh lemonade and sodas. Thy also sell some food items but Marie from the garden management team has said it is fine to bring along our own snacks and treats, just please use the bar for drinks. There is a chance (no promises here) that freshly made pizza will be available too, but do not rely on it.
See you there?
Consort will soon begin the process of wiping the database of the development-wide fob entry system. All residents/fob holders will receive notification direct from Consort to your post-box to advise of the days your building is being reset thus requiring you to visit the concierge to have your fob re-programmed. The reset renders your fob useless until you pay that visit to the concierge where you will need to present your fob PLUS the forms you also received in your post-box, properly completed. The process will begin with Collins Tower next Monday & Tuesday, then make it’s way around the square. Check your post-box regularly for your block’s dates: You should get approximately one week’s notice. A little bit of a nuisance I know, but it should be a quick and painless procedure (completed by the end of the month) and will help tighten security for us all.
Service Charge Bills
By now, all Dalston Square property owners should have received their supplementary charges bills for the financial years 2012/13 and 2013/14 (if you do not yet have yours it should be with you very soon). These charges, fully explained in Consort’s letter I think, vary widely depending on which block you own in and which year you look at (2012/13 sees rebates in excess of £500.00 for some phase 3 residents while some phase 1 residents saw bills in excess of £500.00, and in 2013/14 we see bills, some quite substantial, across the development). This though should be the last time we see supplementary charges like this: After years of campaigning and meetings between the DSRA and Consort, with the DSRA demanding transparency in Consort’s accounting and budgeting processes, the 2013/14 budget was set with the DSRA’s full approval. For the first time our finance committee (a small group of owner-residents who just happen to be professionals in the fields of accountancy and finance) were presented with full development accounts and budget plans, and were able to make sense of them (what has been passed to us as accounts in the past were anything but). Going forward, these newly established practices should ensure that unexpected items and shortfalls are kept to a minimum, and all future service charge rises can be fully explained and justified. It has taken 3 development managers, umpteen area managers, and several different accountants from Consort to give us the financial reports and transparency we have been demanding, but finally during the past 6 months or so, since the appointment of new development manager Gerald Bernard and Senior Property Manager Helen Goldstone (Gerald’s line-manager), we have finally been dealing with people who have not just listened to our concerns, they have acted on them and delivered results where their predecessors continually failed. (See HERE my post from March regarding the 2014/15 budget)
Dalston Futures Meeting & News
A reminder that Dalston Futures’ community organising master-class is tomorrow night at the Trinity Centre, and to pass on THIS LINK to catch up on their latest news.