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

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Consort Customer Alert

Hi folks. A new alert from Consort that will be very important for all those phase 1 residents who use the underground bicycle storage facilities:

Bike Stores – Phase 1
Please note lock codes are changed as of to day. Please contact Concierge for new codes Labyrinth/Raddon/Gaumont.
Regards, ConsortPM

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Consort Property Management Surgery

Gerard Hayes, our on-site Consort Manager, is holding another surgery for residents with questions about any aspect of Consort’s management of Dalston Square on 4th July between 6pm and 8pm. To reserve your 10-15 minute slot contact Gerard by email at gerard.hayes@consortpm.co.uk, or by phone on 0207 2490896. This works on a first come first served basis so be quick to get the slot that best suits you.


Residents Association Newsletter

Dalston Square Residents Newsletter

Developments in the Square

We are told that the Co-op has exchanged contracts on the premises by the main entrance to the Station, but as yet we have no information on exactly when it will open. The site of the rumored Mediterranean Restaurant is still under offer according to the estate agent managing commercial properties in the Square. The Library Café is due for a new fascia board soon to replace the plastic banner currently in place. Watch this space for future developments!

Consort getting some repairs out of Barratt, but…

The new dialogue between the residents’ Building Sub Committee, Consort management, and Barratt is paying off more in some areas than others, and the process can seem very slow. It is difficult at times to know if it is Barratt or Consort who are holding things up. The Buildings Committee meets every 6 weeks with Consort for a site walkabout to assess progress on what needs fixing. Consort says that they are chasing Barratt and we hope that they are now being properly held to account and repairs are being made. If you have concerns let the building committee know. (This is best achieved via our Forum.)

The following are the result of the Associations pressure.

  • Roof gardens have been freshly weeded and with the help of rain are looking better, if not as they should be according to original planting.
  • Water outlets have now been installed on roof terraces so that plants can be watered. (Anyone willing to help with the upkeep of the planters is very welcome to volunteer! Please speak to Gerry Hayes, Consort’s Site Manager.)
  • New locking arrangements are to be installed so that Ocean and Dekker residents cannot lock themselves in the bin rooms.
  • The stonework outside Collins has been re-leveled to stop the puddle forming. (We are aware that this has only been a partial success and we are again chasing for more work to be done.)
  • Glass roof panels (between Gaumont and Collins Towers) to be fixed following battle between Consort and the building insurance company. (Frustratingly, the repair has again been held up by the installation company, which Consort is chasing as we got to press.)
  • Barratt have yet to step up and deal with the flooding that follows heavy rain in the underground parking. The Building Committee will keep pressing for this.

Consort’s Service Charges for Next Year… An open book?

There are ongoing concerns about the level of service charges as well as transparency of calculations. There is a general crisis of confidence in how fees are arrived at. The Residents’ Association plans to meet with the Consort Regional Management Team ahead of the next round of budgeting to discuss next years’ charges.

E.on Heat Charges

E.on have a monopoly on Heat, which is a challenge. Ben Collins has written to Barratt’s about the nature of the Heating contract originally negotiated with Eon when planning the complex. Barratt’s response was posted to this blog Here.

Many residents have moved their electricity supplier from E-On. As far a heating is concerned many have found that it is best to pay a lower standing charge and higher per unit charge.  On behalf of the Residents Association, Mark has been in discussion with Eon about getting better information to residents about how to cut their fuel bills, and his findings can be read in his forum post Here.

Right to Manage

Many residents remain unimpressed with Consort’s performance and ability to run the complex efficiently and effectively. As we have pointed out before, the law allows flat owners to replace a management company if 50% or more of the leaseholders vote for that change.

Urang, a London based property management company, have been invited by a group of residents to consider taking over the management. The company has a reputation for efficiency and prompt delivery. Urang are now completing the lengthy research needed to contact all leaseholders, or their agents. Following this, and working with a group of resident ‘Directors’ from Dalston Square, Urang will contact all Dalston Square owners to seek approval for taking over the management from Consort.

Web Presence

Thanks to Mark, we now have a Dalston Square website (used for DSRA announcements and information), and a Forum (for resident discussion and communication). Register on the website to receive all new posts directly to your email (guaranteed no spam… Ever… We promise), and register on the Forum to participate in the discussions (you can read the posts without registering, but not make your own contribution).

Residents’ ‘Get Together’ – A roof party at the end of the summer

The Easter egg hunt at the Eastern Curve Garden was a great success. Marked by its youthful spirit when even adults couldn’t resist searching out eggs in the higher brambles! This event is to be followed by a ‘roof social’ for all residents, planned for Sunday 9th September on the 9th floor roof terrace of Gaumont Tower.  This coincides with the closure of the Paralympics. The stadium is very visible from the east-facing roof so we hope for a firework display, although the Olympic committee has not yet fully responded to our request!

Join us! Watch for posters in August. If you would like/are able to help with organisation, please get in touch via the Forum.


Dalston Square’s Resident Artist

Hello again. Just a quick plug for the Square’s very own resident artist.

Alex Blum has recently completed some paintings of the London Skyline from the 9th floor roof terrace of Gaumont Tower, and is having an open studio exhibition of her work at the Chocolate Factory, just up Kingsland High Street towards Stoke Newington.
 
Here is her publicity poster, and a sample of her artwork (click on them to see a bigger image). The exhibition will be open on Saturday 30th June and Sunday 1st July, between 11am and 6pm. If you have the chance, please pop in and show your support. Who knows, maybe you will find something to hang in that blank spot on your apartment wall. 😉
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Upcoming DSRA Meeting.

Hello neighbours. Just a quick post to advertise our next meeting: Wednesday 20th June, 7.00pm, 61 Gaumont Tower. As per usual the meeting is open to any resident of the Square who is interested in getting involved in our little community. These meetings usually last for an hour and a half or so, and our planned agenda is as follows:

1)  Buildings and management issues. Discussion and report back from May’s Buildings Sub Committee meeting with Consort..  Security issues. etc.
2) Communications issues – The Website/Forum/Newsletter etc.. How are they working?
3) Arts and community events in the square. Eastern Curve Garden issues.
4)  Social event – Summer roof top party! Using new roof garden above Phase 2 blocks?
5) Any Other Business (to include follow up on idea of an ‘open’ meeting on Dalston Area Action Plan in Autumn)
Hope to see you there!

Important Consort Customer Alert

Hello again. Two new Customer Alerts from Consort today, the second of which is really very important. The first concerns the replacement of the broken panels in the canopy above the passage between Gaumont and Collins Towers (from the Square through to Beechwood road): We have received further apologies from the supplier (technical problems with their glass ovens) but been assured the 2 broken panels will be replaced next week.

The second alert is both important and troubling. Over the last 3 weekends, 3 residents from different towers (one each from Collins, Dekker, and Thomas) have had laptops stolen from their apartments. The thieves (not residents) have been identified from CCTV footage, and this footage has been passed on to the police. The thieves M.O. is very simple: They (2 young guys) hang about outside their targeted block until a departing/arriving resident gives them access. They then move from apartment to apartment, trying every door until they find one to be unlocked and walk right in. If there is someone home and attentive to their opening door, the thieves apologise and leave claiming they have the wrong apartment. If there is no-one home, or the resident is perhaps in the bathroom or in a bedroom, the thieves grab what they can (laptops seem to be their main target), and scarper double time. Dear friends and neighbours, it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security with fob operated tower entrance doors and CCTV cameras, but do not forget we are in a relatively poor area of East London here: Keep your apartment door(s) LOCKED at all times. You have been warned.


E.ON Heat Supply

Hello neighbours. Ben Collins, Chair of our residents association, recently wrote to Barratt Homes with a number of questions regarding our contract with E-on to supply heat to the Square. Steve Thompson, Technical Director for Barratt Homes (East London Division), has sent a reply. As this is a subject that affects us all, we felt you would be interested in this response:

Thank you for your letter dated 14 May, 2012, and received by this office on 22 May, 2012.

 To respond to your letter, I have considered the questions you have raised and my response follows:
·         Is E.ON fully responsible for the running and maintenance of the CHP system in our building?
E.ON is contracted to undertake the operation and maintenance of the entire communal heating system at the Dalston Square development up to and including the Heat Interface Unit within each apartment.  This responsibility includes for the replacement of any defective plant or plant which has reached the end of its service life during the course of their contract.
·         For how many years does the current E.ON heating contract for Dalston Square run?
E.ON are contracted for a period of 25 years.  The term of the contract is in line with similar ESCo Contracts being placed in the market place at this present time.  Some are actually for a longer period.  The principle reason for this is in order for the Energy Service Company to operate and maintain the communal heating system efficiently, and to ensure that the risks associated with plant replacement in the long term can be adequately financed.  It should be borne in mind that one of the principle benefits of an ESCo is that residents are not subjected to unforeseen and substantial costs associated with major plant replacement.
·         To whom is E.ON accountable?
E.ON is accountable to the residents as part of their direct contract for the supply of heat to each resident’s property.  Additionally, E.ON are responsible to the landlord of the Dalston Square Development which currently is Barratt Homes.  Should Barratt Homes dispose of its interest in the future, E.ON’s responsibility would transfer to the new landlord.  However, E.ON also have an affiliated responsibility to the Building Management Company who maintain the building on behalf of the landlord.
·         Who at present monitors E.ON’s performance as the heat generator for our buildings?
Part of the contract obligations on E.ON require annual reporting which covers the running of the system to ensure compliance with the development’s planning obligations.  Additionally, as part of E.ON’s Guaranteed Standards for heat supply they commit to reporting to customers on an annual basis.
·         Who, at present, negotiates with E.ON over the price set for the hot water/heat energy?
The contract with E.ON places stringent controls on the methodology for establishing the heat price.  There are two variables within the formula for ascertaining the heat price which include for the variable gas tariff as purchased by E.ON, together with the ability to increase the price annually based on RPI relative to E.ON’s Management costs only.  Heat prices are set annually on 01 April and are calculated in accordance with a heat price formula which is set out within customer contracts.  The price formula provides strict rules on how E.ON can change prices and ensures transparency.  In addition to the price formula, E.ON provide a price comparator to demonstrate how heating bills compare to heating similar properties via a standard gas boiler system.  E.ON have informed us that based on this comparator methodology, residents at Dalston Square are currently achieving savings of over 30%.
·         If Barratts agreed the original contract for the hot water supplied by E.ON, what information was brought to the table by E.ON and Barratts to use to establish a fair price for heat energy in first instance?
The original heat price and pricing formulas as referred to in the point above were set to provide savings to residents.  This methodology was thoroughly tested throughout the contracting process via industry experts.  This price formula methodology coupled with the price comparator is designed to provide residents with both price protection and transparency.  It is worth pointing out that the price covers the full service to residents including maintenance of Heat Interface Units within apartments and therefore, the comparison is against a similar complete service cost for gas heating.
I trust I have addressed your concerns, however, please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss further.
Kind regards
Steve Thompson
So there you have it: we enjoy savings in excess of 30% over comparable heating/hot water systems. Disagree? Please do head over to the forum where I have started a discussion thread for this topic. We would love to hear your views, and you can also view a copy of the ‘Guaranteed Standards For Heat Supply’ leaflet supplied by E.ON.

Consort Customer Alert

Hello everyone, hope you are all enjoying the warm, sunny weather. Just a quick post to advice you of a new Customer Alert from ConsortPM. If you have any complaints, or questions, with regard to the management of the Dalston Square development, this is your opportunity to speak directly with Gerard Hayes, Consort PM’s on-site manager. Book your 10-15 minute slot soon to get the one you want. 😉

The message (edited to correct atrocious punctuation):

Dalston Square surgery on May 30th, 6-8pm. Reserve a 10-15 minute slot via e-mail to gerard.hayes@consortpm.co.uk, or telephone 0207 2540896.

Regards,
Consort Property Management


Super-fast 1Gb Internet

Hello again. We have had a very interesting post (interesting to regular internet users anyway) in the forum today from resident Paul, which I thought warranted a post here. I quote:

Noticed a poster up on Gaumont Tower’s notice board about a month ago that has since disappeared. It was advertising a high speed fibre optic broadband service for the Dalston Square development with speeds of up to 1Gb per second. The company is called Hyperoptic and you can register your interest at www.hyperoptic.com. I dropped them an email and they told me:

“If we get 55 requests for service, we will move Dalston Square onto our priority list for installation and then we will engage with the Freeholder. Installation commences within 6 weeks of signed wayleave. (This can take weeks or longer.) Service will be live about 4 weeks later”.

They also said they had already conducted a feasibility survey with the Development Manager which was positive & to date had received about 15 requests for service, so if we can get another 40 then we can look to go live with this service. Please register with them if this is of interest to you!! www.hyperoptic.com.

Now, I will admit that at £50 per month this is not cheap. But, 1Gb!! They also offer a 100Mb connection for £25 per month. If you use a lot of bandwidth on a regular basis, or are simply a geek (like me 🙂 ) this is an awesome connection at a very reasonable price.


Alerts, Minutes, & Tariffs

Hello friends and neighbours, three things to mention.

Firstly a customer alert from Consort PM: The Main entrance door to Thomas Tower will be fixed tomorrow, 17th May. Parts had to be ordered which is why it has been out of action for the last few days.

Secondly, there seems to still be some confusion regarding E-on’s supply of electricity and heat to residents on the Square. To hopefully, finally, clear this up I have made a post over at the forum explaining exactly how it all works and offer advice as to how you can reduce your bills. You can read my post HERE. You do not need to be registered at the forum to read this, but will need to register (if you have not already done so) if you wish to comment or ask any questions.

Finally, the latest DSRA meeting was held Thursday of last week, and the minutes of this meeting are available for download from the Document Depository in the DSRA specific section of the forum HERE. To even see the DSRA specific section of the forum you must be registered AND have left me a message (and of course received an answer) in the application section HERE.


Consort ‘Customer Alerts’ & Consort Online

After a discussion with Gerard Hayes (Consort’s development manager here at the Square) yesterday, I have learned that  only a relatively small percentage of residents receive Consort’s ‘Customer Alerts’. These can arrive via email, SMS, or both, and advise residents of anything from reactive issues such as lift or water pump failures (including updates on their repair), to planned maintenance (e.g. window cleaning or gardening). As a service to you, dear neighbour, I will from today publish all alerts here on the blog. I will make it clear that these are Consort’s ‘Customer Alerts’, so if you have any questions regarding them you will need to contact Consort direct (I suggest Gerard would be your best first point of contact). Should you wish to sign up to Consort’s contact list and receive them directly yourself, this can be done via their website at www.consortpm.co.uk (you will need to register with them and then sign up for the alerts).

So, here is the first:

Consort Customer Alert:

GYM at Dalston Square:

Some Residents are switching off the air con units. We have just had them serviced and costs will occur if they are tampered with.
Please leave them alone and avoid costs to the Development.
Thank you for your anticipated assistance in this matter.
Regards,

Consort Property Management


Next DSRA Meeting

Hello again neighbours. Two more things to mention. We now have a date set for the next Dalston Square Residents Association Meeting: Thursday 10th May, 7.00pm. The venue is yet to be decided but as usual will probably be a residents apartment: I will advise you as soon as I know. Secondly, it seems that while full-ownership residents have seen a small decrease in their service charges for the coming 6 months, shared-ownership residents have seen a large (sometimes very large) increase in theirs. If this applies to you and you would like to join other affected residents in voicing your outrage, drop an email to Carmen at dalstonresidents@gmail.com.


Consort ‘Resident’s Surgery’

Just a quick post for those of you not on Consort Property Management’s mailing list. Consort are holding a resident’s surgery to answer any questions/concerns you may want to put to them. Here is a copy of the communication I received:

Residents Surgery on April 25th 2012 from 6 pm to 8 pm in Development Managers office. Reserve slot 10 to 15 minutes via email to gerard.hayes@consortpm.co.uk or tel. 0207 2490896.

Thank you.

Regards,

Consort Property Management


April Newsletter

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 bmcengland@aol.com. 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.