Following on from the recent DSRA open meeting, it is now time for us to think about our Christmas social event: A chance for Dalston Residents to get together for some pre-festivities jollification (not sure that is actually English, but if not, it should be). 😉
Over to Ben Collins who has been pondering the possibilities:
At our autumn social event on the roof terrace in September, there was a ‘show of hands’ for us to organise a Christmas ‘do’. The idea of us all siting around drinking champagne in a shiny white marquee overlooking the new fountain in the Square was eagerly agreed to! Hmm…. You wish! The practicalities of organising such a ‘do’ are, on further study, pretty prohibitive.
However, being ever positive, we would like to put two alternative ideas to you.
We organise either
1) An informal ‘get together’ in Cafe Route: The Residents Association reserves a couple of tables at Cafe Route for one mid December evening between 6.30 pm and 8pm. Residents let me or Cafe Route know they are coming for the event. Each would simply buy their own food and/or drink on the night.
2) Organised Xmas canapes and mulled wine, by ticket booking, at Lift cafe & coffee-shop: The Residents Association books the ‘function room’, from 6.30pm to 8pm, for 20-30 people in the back of Lift on Kingsland Rd, opposite Tesco Express (alcohol is available for functions). Residents would have to commit in advance to this social, by buying a ticket for (approx.) £7.50, to cover the cost of a scrumptious Christmas finger snack with Mulled wine.
Both could be fun. The ‘Lift’ option is more ambitious and will need people to commit at least two weeks ahead (possible dates are Wed 12th Dec or Thurs 19th, to be agreed with venue management), while the Cafe Route option would potentially allow for more spontaneity
Please let us know which option you would be most interested in.
All that is left is for you to complete the poll. Simply click against your preferred option and then click on ‘Vote’. Job done. We will announce the outcome soon.
Hello again. Here, as promised, is a general update of what the DSRA have been up to over the summer months. This report has been compiled by DSRA Chair, Ben Collins:
What’s happening with the Dalston Square Residents Association?
The DSRA committees have been active on your behalf. We know that the first years of a new development are the time to get things right. There have been many strange accounting procedures and building glitches which we have pursued.
The following are brief reports from the two committees that have been active over the summer.
The Finance Committee
Ever since the first blocks were occupied, residents have been unhappy about the way in which Consort calculates and presents its budget. There have been a string of errors followed by increasing costs. Whether you pay for these via your rent, or directly via your service charges to Consort, these costs are passed on and there have been some inexplicable and rapid rises for some buildings.
The DSRA has this year called for Consort to publish its budget and explain it to our finance committee. We have been dismayed that, despite several meetings, the management company has still not sorted out its common electricity costs. Some buildings appear to have electricity costs running up to ten times more than others with no explanation given. As this report goes to press the DSRA has just met again with the Consort regional manager to insist the issue be sorted out.
The Buildings Sub-Committee
Progress on getting the many construction glitches around the Square sorted out is more positive in as much as Barratt appear to be taking our request seriously, and in the last few months have been pushing hard for the Square’s high standards to be maintained.
Trees have been replanted and watered, broken bricks, gutters, and paving slabs replaced, and planters looked after. Some improvement to bike storage has been agreed, although there appears to be a limit to what is possible. The sheeting on the canopy over Blue Street (the passageway between the library and Gaumont Tower) will be replaced soon. We have also worked to ensure street and gutter cleaning is maintained by Barratt, while awaiting full hand-over to Hackney Council. The Council is currently only cleaning the area at the top end of the Square, by the library.
As far as we know, two new eating establishments are expected to occupy ground floor retail spaces in the Phase 1 buildings on the east of the Square. Kitchen air extraction will need attention: Those living in Gaumont Tower are currently getting a fair dose of smell coming into their lobby and lift shafts and the current fan system is not adequate. We have pressed Barratt for a review of the system. Another issue brought to Barratt’s attention is the lack of both windows and ventilation in the office of Consort Site Manager Sean Stone: They have promised a window and ventilator. We will continue to chase them on both of these issues.
Door security remains a worry, with occasional tampering causing the lock systems to be damaged. We have insisted on daily checks to ensure security is maintained and ask that residents report any questionable locking or damage to any front door, to the concierge in Gaumont Tower, as soon as possible.
Threat To The Eastern Curve Garden
Things are a-stirring with plans to make the land currently occupied by the Eastern Curve Garden into a thoroughfare as set out in the Dalston Area Action Plan. The DSRA met with the developer and architect some weeks back and impressed upon them that the loss of this much-loved community space and garden would be resisted by local residents. Since then, expressions of concern to Councillors have been flowing in, but it is important, if you feel the garden should be kept into the future, for you too to contact the council to express your support of the garden: There is currently no guarantee it will be there in a year’s time.
Cultural Events In The Square
Hackney Council have set up a local Forum for residents to contribute ideas and express views about what events should happen in the Square (minutes of past meetings of this group are available for download from the ‘What’s On’ section of our FORUM HERE). We note that on the week-end of the 28th and 29th of September there is the following event:
House of Amau summer weekend – Saturday 28 September, 11am – 8pm, including steel drum workshop 3pm – 4.30pm. Sunday 29 September, 11am – 7pm, including African drumming workshop 3pm – 4.30pm.
Look out for stalls selling a wide variety of books, including works by the African Caribbean Writers Group.
If you want to get involved (and we need resident volunteers) in helping to plan next summer’s Dalston Square events, contact Lucy McMenemy via the Dalston Square dedicated page of the Hackney Council website HERE. This link is also in our link-list in the right-hand column of our website’s homepage, and will keep you abreast of all council-planned events that are coming to the Square.
That’s all for now. I do have some info on the commercial units in the Square as well as an update from Barratt regarding their schedule for finishing up in the Square, but will save that for a post in a few days. Until then, have a good week. 😉
Oops, nearly forgot: Did I mention that the DSRA have their autumn get-together planned for next Sunday, 29th September? 5.30pm until 7.00pm followed by a fountain switch-on in the Square at 7.15. This flier says it all:
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!
Hi folks. I have received an update email from Lucy McMenemy (our friendly local council cultural events manager) to share with you all. October is Big Draw month, and with funding from the Arts Council, we are being encouraged to get creative. Things kick off this coming weekend (saturday 6th October) with a drawing workshop for kids. The event will take place in Dalston Square (weather permitting), in the CLR James library, and the Eastern Curve Garden. This is completely free of charge and will run from 12.00 noon until 3.30pm. The following weekend (saturday 13th October) will see a comvmunal sculpture project taking place in Dalston Square, open to everyone of any age, using plumber’s tubing and hundreds of elbow joints. This will run from 12.00 noon until 5.00pm. There will also be events the following 2 weekends but as they are outside the Square and I am writing this post on my phone (I am currently on holiday in Lebanon – 35 degrees and sunny yesterday), I will let you visit the coucil’s website for details: http://www.hackney.gov.uk/dalston-square. All of these events are free of charge and deserve your support: Get out there!
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Hello all, I have some news and updates to share and will try not to ramble too much.
Firstly, some good news for those of you still using E.On as your electricity supplier (not to be confused with E.On heat supply). It has been pointed out that most energy suppliers now offer discounts to customers who use a single supplier for both their electricity and gas supply, and how unfair it is that although we have no gas we are tied to E.on for our heat, but still we do not qualify for some kind of discount also. Well, thanks to some great detective work from Andy T. (resident of Labyrinth Tower), it seems we are eligible for a discount after all. There is, however, a problem in that although E.On have agreed to give us the discount, it is not yet set up in their billing software: I have spent over an hour in total, in four phone calls, over 3 days trying to get it arranged for myself. So, I have an arrangement with a supervisor at E.On whereby as soon as things are set within their systems, I will be advised that they are ready to receive calls from all residents for whom this will apply, and of course I will then let you all know exactly how to claim this discount for yourselves. And do not worry that you are missing out whilst being delayed: E.On are back-dating the discount to the beginning of your account with them! Pretty cool I think you will agree. It could be 4-6 weeks I am told but will get back to you all as soon as I hear from E.On.
Next up, another find from Andy T. (he has been a busy boy) that will be useful for anyone struggling with anti-social neighbours and loud parties. As well as being able to phone the Hackney Council noise pollution team to make formal complaints (020 8356 4455), they also have a website for the same purpose: Click HERE to go straight to it. Just one request though: If you do contact the council directly regarding a party or generally noisy neighbours, please be sure to report it to the concierge as well so it gets logged in Consort’s log-book. Thanks.
On a more positive note, Hackney council now have a webpage dedicated to Dalston Square and the activities organised by their Culture & Community Engagement Forum. You can find it HERE. As you will see, there is already quite a lot of events on the cards, with plenty more to come I believe. Check it out to see the details of this coming Sunday’s (tomorrow’s) t-shirt design & printing event that is completely free for under 18s: Very cool. Do please note that under 12s must be accompanied by an adult. The event will take place in the library, spilling out into the Square if weather permits. Click the thumbnail image at the bottom of this post to see their advertising poster.
Lastly, a word regarding posting comments to these blog posts. Please do not use fake names and spurious email addresses, and please keep the comment relevant to the post you are commenting against. All other comments or questions should be posted to the discussions forum. Many thanks.
Hello friends and neighbours. As you all know, we held a DSRA meeting during the week and I will be posting the minutes of that meeting soon. In the meantime, we did finalise plans for a late-summer get-together. Open to all residents of Dalston square (and any friends you wish to bring with you), it will be a BBQ event held on the 9th floor terrace of Gaumont tower. The RA will (fingers crossed) supply the grill, so bring some food & drink (something to share?) a plate and a glass, and come to meet your neighbours! Click the thumbnail image below to see the poster with the details.
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.
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.
Hello again. Just a quick plug for the Square’s very own resident artist.
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. 😉
Hi folks. Just a quick reminder that tomorrow (Sunday) is our Easter Egg Hunt in the Eastern Curve Garden from 2-4pm. Entry is completely free, and open to all. Tea and coffee will be available for purchase, but if you fancy something a little stronger, or a snack of any kind, feel free to bring it along (enough to share perhaps?). The weather forecast is for cloudy skies, but dry throughout the afternoon. So, wrap yourselves and your kids warmly, and come join in the fun! Full details HERE.