First the reminder: Tomorrow evening, Thursday 14th November, Hackney Unites are initiating their second community discussion about the future of Dalston. The meeting, open to all Dalston residents, is at 6:30pm at the Trinity Centre on Beechwood Road. Full details can be found HERE.
And now the report. Following last weeks DSRA open meeting, Ben Collins has produced the following for all those unable to attend:
This meeting, held in a residents flat, was for residents new and established, to have the opportunity to meet face to face with active members of the DSRA. If anyone wishes for more detail on any of the items reported below, please do not hesitate to contact us via the comments link below this posting.
The Agenda covered:
1) Service Charges and the Budget
On the basis of current predictions our 2014-15 service charges look like going up significantly. Our current grievance over Consorts inaccurate and erratic budget setting remains unresolved, and as a result we are very suspicious about the way service charges are established for each of us. A key question for the DSRA is how common electricity costs are obtained (some buildings, for example, are costing thousands of pounds more than others for the electricity to run lifts and corridor lighting). There are also questions about building insurance costs, as well as water and cleaning charges. We remain concerned that concierge wage increases continue to be held up by Consort’s inability to establish a properly costed budget. Concierge wages are we are told, lower than average for London. Over the past year the DSRA ‘Finance Committee’ has repeatedly met with Consort officers in an attempt to establish transparency on costs and income, and agree a consultative approach on levels of expenditure. However, we remain frustrated by a lack of progress on Consorts behalf in getting the costings right. Our current service charges are, in effect, based on historical budget figures along with a sum added (or subtracted for some) according to very unclear criteria. Given this situation, a fresh ‘high level’ meeting between the DSRA committee and Consort’s new Senior Operations Manager, J0-Ann Deeks, was arranged to clarify our concerns and call for urgent action. This face to face meeting was held on November the 7th with three DSRA Committee members present.
(Stop Press: The meeting with Jo-Ann Deeks on Thursday did result in a fresh acknowledgement by a senior Consort Officer that the company was not managing residents’ interests to a satisfactory standard. Promise was given of a fresh drive to focus on areas of poor delivery. There was also acknowledgement of poor budget setting practices, and poor communications with the Association and wider residents. It was acknowledged that greater support and supervision of the site management team in Dalston was needed. That the site manager was working very hard was not in question, however, he and his teem were working with an evolving situation and too often stretched to the point in which the site team was unable to maintain a good service. Changes were promised. We will see what this means in time!)
2) Buildings Maintenance and Repairs
It was noted that the long list of repair items was now shortening (however by no means eradicated!). The main issues were:
a) Restaurant foul air extraction
With the new restaurants opening the issue of foul air ventilation needed addressing by Barratt. Emails had been exchanged with Barratt about the restaurant kitchen odours and smoke that waft along the service tunnel, into lift shafts, and even into flats. The DSRA has received verbal promises from Barratt that a new ventilation system is to be installed to take odours directly out of the building and up to roof level.
b) The flood problem in the basement garage
This remains a big problem. There seems to be drips from the drain pipes running below the building in several places. Also water may be coming up through the basement slab itself. Furthermore, that water is not draining away as their are no drains at basement floor level. Water levels can prevent access to cars after periods of heavy rain. The DSRA has persistently chased this issue up with Barratt. Barratt are aware and claim they are pursuing the matter as a priority issue. We will keep on at them! Individual residents should complain directly to Barratt Customer Care (0208 522 5500). It was noted that phases 2 and 3 buildings are not well represented on the DSRA ‘Buildings Committee’. We were pleased to have a new volunteer join that committee.
Other issues on the ‘to do’ list, include sorting our bicycle security, clarifying cleaning schedules, and the provision for the redecorating of corridor and lobby walls. Warnings on unsightly balcony contents, and the provision of proper garden maintenance where also touched on. Some of these are ongoing, but need discussion and decisions to be made. Any resident who wishes to join this committee is most welcome. Contact us!
3) Christmas Social
Finally, our concern to remain a fun loving association led us to discuss a winter/Christmas social event. It was agreed that we should aim for an indoors event this year. Two members volunteered to research some indoor venues that could serve food and drink. The idea of a buffet meal in a local cafe space seemed to be favoured. Any one wanting to help organise such an event, please contact us, again via the comments section below this posting. Cafe Route is being approached as a possible venue. Watch this space!