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Leasehold Forum – Notes of meeting on 9th July 2009

Ann Connor                 AC            Octavia Close
Ron Johnston               RJ            Sadler Close
Jean Challis               JC            Glebe Court
Clive Mowforth             CM            Gilbert Close
Robin Bainton              RB            Thornton Court
Jack Crisp                 JC            Elm Nursery
Jackie Falconer            JF            Goldcliff Close
Councillor Linda Scott     LS            London Borough of Merton

Brian Matthews
Marion Hyde
Jan Reuben

In attendance
Penny Leslie               PL            London Borough   of   Merton
Sharon Phillips            SP            London Borough   of   Merton
Lynne Nicholls             LN            London Borough   of   Merton
Richard Cullip             RC            London Borough   of   Merton
Helen Bowerbank            HB            Circle Anglia

Item     Subject
1        Welcome and Introductions
1.1      LS welcomed everybody to the meeting. Introductions were made and
         apologies noted.
1.2      LS chaired the meeting, and it was explained to the group that RB had
         stood down from the role, as it had been advised that there could be a
         conflict of interest with his position on the board of Merton Priory Homes.
2        Minutes of Meeting on 7th April
2.1      Amendments
         A correction was noted on 4.2 where ‘contraction’ should read
2.2       Update to 6.10. LN has met with JS (Glebe), and there will be two further
         meetings when the Actuals come in. LH asked about charges re: doors
         and windows, and was informed that this was being sorted out. It was
         noted that a committee member would be expected to attend the next two
2.3      Update to 6.12 Action to be carried over and sent out with the minutes.


      Housing stock transfer update
3.1   1.   Ballot result:

                 Tenants:
                         4,423 tenants voted
                         60.5% turnout
                         53.2% voted ‘yes’
                 Leaseholders:
                         729 ‘test of opinion’ papers returned
                         29.9% turnout
                         44.7% in favour of transfer
                 Since a majority of tenants who voted, voted in favour, the
                  council will be applying to the Secretary of State for consent
                  to transfer and progressing with the preparations.
                 Transfer is planned for 22 nd March 2010

      2.   Project management (post-ballot):
                 Council Better Homes team that led on the pre-ballot phase
                  now disbanded
                 Now a council-side team – Jo Williams and Richard Cullip
                 And a MPH transition team:
                        Lesley English, CA
                        Lesley Smith, LBM
                        Michelle Mundy, LBM
                        Susan Smart, LBM
                        Carol Pattison, LBM
                 Pauline Ford, currently MD at Roddons housing association
                  (Fenland) appointed as MD for MPH, due to start in
                 ‘Better Homes’ as a brand name to be phased out and
                  replaced by MPH.

3.3   3.   Project plans:

                 Separate council and MPH project plans in place
                 Council plan:
                       Some 16 pages
                       Approvals for transfer (from the council and
                       Transfer Agreement – key document, contract
                          between council and MPH
                       Negotiating items – financial and other (eg
                          nomination rights)
                       Financial issues – stock valuation, pension scheme

                       Offer document promises – all listed out

                MPH plan:
                     Registration with the Tenant Services Authority
                     Building the new organisation
                     Need to be ready to deliver on promises from day
                     Negotiating items

3.4   4.   Communication:

                Will continue, but as intense as in the pre-ballot phase
                Updates at LH forum, HCF etc
                Raising the Roof
                Communication with all residents – particularly shortly
                 before transfer date


3.5    RJ asked if there was any analysis of different districts voting in different
       percentages, and was informed that there was some information and
       some differential, but there was no information on turnout demographics.

3.6    CM asked how many leaseholders Merton had, and RC said that there
       were around two and a half thousand.
3.7    CM, commenting on the appointment of Pauline Ford as new MD of
       Merton Priory Homes, asked whether there was no one from within
       Merton who could have done the job? He was told that the job had
       undergone the normal recruitment process, with three shadow board
       members and two Human Resources personnel from Circle Anglia on the
       panel, and the best person for the job was appointed.

3.8    JC drew attention to a recent article in the Evening Standard, raising
       questions as to the terms on which staff would transfer to the new
       organization, and was assured that staff would be transferring on existing
       terms and conditions.
       JC said he felt such details didn’t always come out, and was reminded by
       LS that massive quantities of information had been given out throughout
       the process, and that all information was independently scrutinized.
3.9    AC asked what the purpose of the Test of Opinion was, and commented
       that Merton Council did not own her block. RC responded that the
       decision had been taken to get leaseholders views in a test of opinion. He
       further said that he had written to her recently confirming that it was
       established that Merton Council has the registered title to the property in

3.10   RJ asked where Merton Priory Homes premises would be? RC informed
       the group that three possible options were currently being explored.
       These were The Grange in Morden, and premises on Cricket Green in
       Mitcham and Weir Road in Wimbledon. As soon as a decision was made
       everyone would be informed. It was noted that Merton Priory Homes
       would be an independent organization and needed to be a clearly
       separate entity from the Council; taking premises owned by the council
       was not a practical option.


3.11   JC queried the note in the previous minutes when RB had said that land
       would be transferred, and the sum involved would not be significant. It
       was explained that there was a set formula, laid down by central
       government, which has to be followed to work out valuations. RC
       commented that following a transfer, Leasehold properties tended to go
       up in value, although there are no guarantees.
4      Refreshments
5      How we Calculate Service Charges
5.1    Lynne Nicholls gave a presentation on how we calculate service charges.
       Please see attached.
5.2    JF stated that she never saw a caretaker or the Deep Clean Team, and
       was advised by SP that if she had a complaint she should write in, and
       this could then be investigated.
5.3    AC asked what was done in cases of criminal damage, and whether this
       was built into the estimates even if it could be reclaimed on insurance?
       SP told the meeting that the Leasehold team received detailed records of
       all maintenance undertaken. These are checked, and if a crime number is
       issued the relevant figure is taken off the actuals.
5.4    SP said that once the actuals had been issued, leaseholders could
       request in writing a line-by-line breakdown of charges, which could be
       available within 28 days, if requested. LN added that this would be in the
       new breakdown format as introduced in October 2008.
5.5    CM commented that there was less work done now by cleaners and
       caretakers than in the past. LN replied that charges were only made for
       caretaking done, and SP added that a deep cleaning programme will be
       supplied to the LH team prior to setting the estimates.
5.6    TV aerials were based on contracts with uplifts within them.

5.7    The new landscaping contract was based on the meterage of grass, with
       fourteen cuts per area, per year.
5.8    As performance under the new contract was improving, charges would be
       reflective of this and nearer the actual contract charges.

5.9    General repairs. Monthly meetings reports are being supplied by
       Connaughts, in order to monitor the partnering contract and ensuring the
       accuracy of charges.
5.10   RJ queried whether it was Merton producing the estimates till March, and
       then Merton Priory Homes doing the actuals? HB responded that it would
       be tricky, but at least the staff and stock would remain the same, so
       hopefully all should go smoothly. LN added that Merton Priory Homes
       would need to make decisions on which contracts to take forward in order
       for the estimates to be set, and setting the estimates for 10/11 would be
       pressured due to time constraints.


5.11   LH asked if the same company would be used for buildings insurance,
       and was informed that this was not yet known. A new contract for Merton
       Priory Homes would commence in April, and it was possible that this
       insurance might go on the Circle Anglia group buildings insurance policy.
5.12   HB said that currently Circle Anglia’s costs per unit for insurance this year
       were £70. There was the opportunity for contents insurance to be
       available at a good rate from the same supplier, but this was between the
       insurer and the leaseholder. Circle Anglia had negotiated a good deal for
       contents insurance for residents, which it is hoped may be made
       available for Merton Priory Home’s leaseholders.
5.13   JF mentioned that her block had subsidence, which Merton had been
       dealing with over the last two years, and wanted to know who would be
       dealing with this issue? SP asked her to provide details and she would
       look into the matter.

6      Performance Report
6.1    SP gave her apologies, and informed the group that the performance
       report would go out with the minutes.
7      AOB
7.1    HB informed the meeting that work had already started, prior to transfer,
       on the procurement of contractors who would deliver the works for Merton
       Priory Homes. She urged residents to get involved in this process. There
       would be monthly meetings and statutory consultation, which would
       happen soon, and the Council would be sending the notices out on behalf
       of Merton Priory Homes.
7.2    LN informed the meeting that a new Door entry contracts is scheduled to
       be tendered for and that leaseholders would receive a Notice of Intention
       shortly. The current contract was about to come to an end, and they
       would be looking for a three-year contract with a two-year extension.
7.3    LH raised concerns about which meetings Merton Priory Homes board
       members could and could not attend, as she was concerned that Glebe
       TMO did not want to lose the input from Yvonne on their committee. LS
       said that she would be getting clarification on this issue. She thanked RB
       for his good intentions when volunteering to be the chair at the last
8      Date of next meeting: 8 October 2009 Committee Rooms B&C Civic


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