A website & blog for residents (and neighbours) of Dalston Square

Consort

The DSRA Working With Consort, Barratt, & Hackney Council

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 (gerald.bernard@consortpm.co.uk) in the first instance, or Charlotte Perrott (charlotte.perrott@consortpm.co.uk)

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…..

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Planned Events And Consort Notices

Hello neighbours. Just a quick post to point out some recent FORUM postings. Firstly a couple of things from Lucy McMenemy, Cultural Programme Officer at Hackney Council and the lady who organises the free events the council lays on in the Square. The first of these is the minutes of the latest meeting of the cultural forum HERE (scroll to the bottom of the thread), the second is the electronic version of their newsletter, NUMBER 2, that has been mailed out to all Dalston Square residents recently. One thing to add: The printed version has a note in red about the junior cricket sessions being postponed until the barriers are removed from around the fountains. Well, as you will have noticed, these are now gone and so the cricket is back on, every other Monday, until August 19th (it was back today but I was unable to get this post out until it was too late. My sincere apologies). And talking of the fountains, you may have already heard that an event may be planned to celebrate the official switching on. This was proposed by a Dalston Square resident and Lucy agrees this is a great idea.  Once dates are confirmed, we will announce the details.

The other FORUM posts I want to bring to your attention are the latest notices from Consort. The first of these is partly relevant to all residents (and partly just to Phase 2) and can be found HERE, the other is only relevant to Phase 2 residents (Thomas through to Ocean), covering several topics, and can be found HERE.

And that’s your lot for now. I will be creating a forum post very soon to bring everyone up to date on the many developments we are aware of that are in planning for Dalston, and will advertise said post here when it is complete. Until then, take care, and enjoy the summer (while it lasts).


New Consort Section In Forum

Hello neighbours. In a recent meeting between DSRA representatives and Consort management, it was acknowledged by both sides that any attempt to improve communications between Consort and residents would be a good thing. To this end, a new system has been put in place. This will not replace the current system of notice boards, text & email service, and standard mail, but rather will compliment these in the hope of reaching some who miss the other communication streams.

The new system is a new section within the DSRA discussions forum. The new section, titled ‘Consort Memos & Notices’ is divided into 2 sections. The first, ‘Important Notices‘ will contain important information relevant at all times to all residents. The second, ‘Memos & Updates‘ will contain, you guessed it, memos and updates (which will generally be relevant for only a limited time). As mentioned in the ‘Read This First’ post in each of these sections, although posted to the forum by me, these are reproduced, unedited in any way, from emails sent to me by Sean Stone (ConsortPm Development Manager). If you have any questions/queries/feedback regarding these posts, please feel free to reply, but do note that if you want a reply from Sean, you should also contact him direct at sean.stone@consortpm.co.uk.

I would also ask that if you do contact Sean regarding any of these notices, please say you are doing so by way of a reply in the relevant forum thread so others need not contact Sean with the same question. And of course please also share Sean’s reply when you receive it. This could potentially save everyone a lot of valuable time.


DSRA Meeting & Social

As many of you will know, at the disastrous meeting held by Consort in the library a few weeks back (a meeting at which Consort failed miserably to justify the latest proposed increases in our service charges), they promised to get back to us by mid April with answers to our many questions. Mid April is, but for a couple of days, now upon us and we have heard nothing (though in fairness we have also not received the latest bill which should have been with us by now). Where do we go from here? Ben Collins (DSRA Chair) has been weighing up our options and has come across a couple of very interesting organisations: The Federation of Private Residents’ Associations (FPRA – www.fpra.org.uk), and the Leasehold Advisory Service (a government funded Non Departmental Public Body – www.lease-advice.org). The former, a not-for-profit organisation who offer legal and organisational advice to it’s members (we would have to pay a membership fee to join in order to receive this advice) work very closely with the second and are very familiar with Consort and the problems we are encountering. I think you would agree it is perhaps time to take our grievances to the next level and see if this may be the way forward. In this regard then, we will like to call a meeting, open to all residents of Dalston Square, leaseholders and Tenants alike, to discuss these and other options and decide on a way forward. Hoping this will not take that long (we have scheduled 45 minutes for the meeting), we thought we could then break out the drinks and nibbles and have a bit of a Spring get-together: Nothing overly long or fancy, just a chance to have a chat and get to know each other a little better. Click on the thumbnail below for all the details. Hope to see you all there: The meeting is important and we need your input!

Meeting Social


Consort Meeting Reminder

Just a quick reminder that the meeting, arranged by Consort to explain the continuing rise in our annual service charges, is this evening at 6.30pm in the C.L.R. James Library, here in the Square. This is your opportunity to hear what Consort have to say, and to put your questions directly to the team who calculate these charges. As owners you need to be there to hear why our charges will rise again this coming financial year (2013/14) despite rises, in some cases, of close to 300% over the last 4 years (based on actual charges for 2012/13 against estimates given at time of purchase). As renters you need to be there to support owners, as continued cost increases will inevitably lead to higher rents. I realise the timing may be awkward for some who will still be commuting home at that time of the early evening, but please attend if you can.


Updates To Previous Posts

Hi all, hope this post finds you well. The first item is not so much an update as a reiteration. You may have noticed Sean Stone’s note on the notice boards, and should of received your letter from Consort, regarding next week’s meeting, called by Consort, to explain to us all the reasons for the rises in the coming year’s service charges. (Regarding the letter, please note there is a mistake contained therein: Charges will rise from the current range of £900-£3800, depending on block and size, to a range of £1000-£4000. Not, as it is poorly written, an increase of £1000-£4000). Those of you registered with the DSRA (via the forum or by attending our regular meetings) will have today received my email but I will again publish here a note from Ben Collins, Chair of the DSRA, regarding this meeting:

Service Charge increases 2013- 2014
Consort Meeting 
Tuesday March 19th
6.30 pm
CLR James Library 
Some of you will be aware that our Service Charges are due to increase again this April.
In some cases, we the Residents Association believe, these could be very significant. (From our estimates this could possibly be more than 25% in the case of some buildings)
Leaseholders received a letter this week from Consort Property Management (dated March 12th), which is somewhat confusing. It describes ‘an increase of between £1000 and £4000 per apartment… dependent on the block’.
If these figures are correct, they are alarming. They do not reflect the provisional figures the DSRA committee was given in a recent budget review meeting with Consort, but they do confirm the need to attend the meeting next Tuesday, to ask questions.
For the past three years the Residents’ Association has asked for greater transparency in budgeting and more accurate predictive information for Service Charges for each apartment, to be sent out well in advance of the new financial year. This is to avoid the surprises many of us have had in past years from late notices of increases, based on unexplained or questionable cost increases in running our buildings.
The increase in Service Charges will impact on ALL residents including tenants.
We are very concerned about the confused message from Consort and hope that as many residents as possible will attend the meeting on Tuesday March 19th, at 6:30 in the library. We need a strong showing to impress upon Consort that we expect better from their financial management, and better value for money for their Service Charges. If you can, please come to the meeting to make your case.
Ben Collins
Chair
Dalston Square Residents’ Association
I cannot stress enough how important it is for as many residents as possible to attend this meeting. And that includes renters as well as owners: If costs continue to rise for owners, eventually rents will increase to compensate.
Next, an update on the proposed development of the Holy Trinity School. Further to my announcement HERE (down near the bottom of the post), the plans have now been submitted to Hackney Council. There is a forum thread discussing this issue in depth HERE. Anyone wishing to object to this development can do so on the Hackney Council website HERE.
Lastly an update to my post including details of Land of Kings (HERE, second paragraph). Nick has sent through a copy of their event poster and full event details which I have included below. Click each thumbnail to see the full size version. Further details on the family oriented Land of Kids will follow.
poster pg1 pg2 pg3

Meeting Reminder & Agenda

Hi folks. Just a quick reminder for all residents of the Square that there will be a general meeting of the Residents’ Association next week. Open to ALL residents (renters and owners alike) the meeting will be hosted by my partner Christine and myself on Tuesday 20th November, at 61 Gaumont Tower, starting promptly at 7.00pm, and chaired by DSRA Chairperson Ben Collins. These meetings generally run for approx 90 minutes and I expect this one will be no different. Listed here below is the agenda for the meeting. Whether you have an opinion you want to express, or just want to know/see how things work at these meetings, every resident is welcome to come along.

Agenda

1) Consort Management Changes

Consort’s proposals versus what residents want.

2) Dalston Square Commercial Units

Bars, restaurants, crèches: What fits and how do Barrat’s wishes compare to those of the residents.

3) Bicycle Security

4) Noisy And Disruptive Late-Night Parties

What further measures can we take?

5) 2013-2014 Service Charges

We have been invited to list our expenditure priorities in a pre-budget meeting with Consort. What are the resident’s priorities?

6) Christmas Social

7) Any Other Business


Residents Surgery

Hi folks, just a quick one. Gerard Hayes, Consort’s on-site development manager, is to hold his next residents surgery on Wednesday 3rd October from 6.00pm until 8.00pm. To reserve your 10 minute slot contact Gerard by email at gerard.hayes@consortpm.co.uk, or by telephone on 0207 2490896. If you have any questions for Gerard regarding Consort’s management of the development this is your chance, so contact him soon to get the slot you want.


Meeting Reminder & Parking Permits Update

Hello neighbours. Just wanted to, firstly, remind you all that the DSRA have a committee meeting this evening to which all residents of the Square are invited: Owners, renters, long-time DSRA members, and those who have never attended a meeting before. Whether you have something to say or just want to listen in, every resident is invited and welcome to join us: 7.00pm, 69 Gaumont Tower. See HERE for the agenda

Secondly, an update regarding the new parking permit system for the underground parking at Dalston Square. Due to many owners/renters having not yet collected their permits from the concierge guys, the implementation of the checking routines will be delayed by a couple of weeks. Consort will conduct a second round of posting notices on all parked vehicles to advice everyone of the new system (to catch anyone who may have been overlooked in the first round), and then full implementation of the new system will start in a couple of weeks time. Once that new system starts, any vehicle found parked that is not displaying the correct permit and/or is parked in the wrong parking bay, will receive a parking ticket (just as you would if parked illegally on any public road). Checks will be conducted several times each day by an independent contractor who will accept no excuses for illegal/incorrect parking. And Consort will not be able to help you if you feel you have been incorrectly ticketed: You will have to appeal against the ticket in exactly the same manner as if incorrectly ticketed by a traffic warden. Friends and neighbours, if you own or rent a space in the underground parking and have not yet got your permit, get it soon: Being caught without one will soon become very expensive. You have been warned.


Meeting Agenda & Parking Permits

Hi folks. Firstly, clarification for car-park space owners/renters regarding the new permit system which comes into effect next week (19th Sept.). If you own or rent a parking space in the underground Dalston Square parking facilities, and have not already spoken to the concierge service regarding your permit, you need to do so very soon. Starting next Wednesday, an independent company will be making regular inspections of the underground parking at Dalston Square to ensure that all vehicles parked there are actually supposed to be there, and not simply trespassing in somebody’s, paid-for, allotted space. Unfortunately, as Gerard Hayes is currently on holiday, I cannot tell you exactly what will happen to vehicles without permits (parking tickets certainly, clamping/towing possibly), but will find out and share that info with you all on Gerard’s return. As an owner, simply present proof of ownership (a copy of your lease) to the concierge along with the details of your vehicle and they will issue you with your permit (which must then be displayed in said vehicle whilst parked). As a renter, you will need a copy of the owner’s lease as proof of their ownership, a letter from that owner confirming you are renting their car-park space, and your vehicle details.

Next up, we now have an agenda for the upcoming Resident’s Association meeting. As always, the meeting is open to any and every resident of the Square, owners and renters alike. If you are interested in participating in the decision-making process, or simply curious as to what goes on in these meetings, we would love to see you there.

Dalston Square Resident’s Association Meeting.

Thursday, 20th September, 7.00pm, 69 Gaumont Tower.

Agenda:

1) Chasing the glitches – Report back on our recent meeting with Barratt Homes and Consort on those nagging building deficiencies (bike storage, bin store ventilation, fire safety, snags in the Square).

2) Noise and good neighbourliness – Noise in tall buildings travels up, down, and all around. Balancing one person’s fun against a neighbour’s right to peace and quiet. Respecting guidelines or imposing rules? Noisy builders? Have your say.

3) Service Charges for 2013-2014 – Planning ahead: Consort have agreed to share with Dalston Square residents their draft budget for next year: To ensure there is greater clarity for all residents and to ask for feedback (we will need help with this – new members with finance skills welcome!)

4) Arts and social events – ‘MAKING THE SQUARE OUR HOME’. What is planned for the months ahead? New ideas for fun social events to build the spirit of community in our vertical world!

5) A.O.B.