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DAMESATHOME@YAHOO.CO.UK
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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

A CATALYST FOR A HOUSING DISASTER

Catalyst is a major housing association. 
It loves to witter on about corporate and social responsibility, but the Dame is minded of the great Doctor Johnson's observation on honesty and spoon counting( no, Palmer, you ignorant fellow: you would not understand!)
The Dame may not be politically aligned with Cllr Dent Coad, but she shares her views about treating people with respect. Her blog on conditions at Wormington Green is truly heart rending. The idea that children are having to be bought up in such conditions should shame us all. Please read her blog HERE

POGGENPOHL KITCHEN

At the same time take a look at the non executive directors who lead this miserable organisation HERE
The chairman, Richard Brown CBE should be thoroughly ashamed to lend his name to such a rubbish outfit.

Last year, Brown was asked by ministers to look into the failings that led to the collapse of the franchise competition for the West Coast Main Line. Maybe he should take time to look at the failings of Catalyst.... which he chairs....
Other non exec's include senior people in banking: they would not allow their dogs to live like this.
Smug Heneage Stevenson of Mountgrange is also a  Nodding NED

But the object of our anger should be the directors with hands on responsibility....to call themselves professional demeans the understanding of the word 'professional'  LEADERSHIP TEAM!
Rod Cahill, the boss, has been described as a thoroughly nasty piece of work, rude, bullying, and 'misrepresenting'. 
However, he is not, the Dame says, any relation to the late Joe Cahill, the Provo IRA Chief of Staff.
The 'moustachioed one' likes to pretend he speaks for the housing association sector....if true, one can only pity the sector.

Here are some scary images of parts of Wormington Green....not for sensitive stomachs.

LUXURY!
SKY RAT'S NEST
NEXT TO THE KITCHEN

35 comments:

  1. I see a couple of Citibank bankers here...quelle surprise

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  2. Planning permission for this outrage went through only on the casting vote of then Planning Committee Chairman, Cllr. Terence Buxton (ousted from standing in this year’s council elections). He should also bear much responsibility. And as for Catalyst CEO Rod Cahill, who gave the Committee a firm assurance that the market homes would not go to buy-to-let landlords – well, all those properties that have not been sold to foreign investors have gone to – buy-to-let landlords! They should be shivering in their shoes at the number of complaints they are going to get once their high-rented tenants move in. The Mayor of London lauds the fact that so many new homes are being built in K and C, Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham. Not for our people, they ain’t! It is ridiculous that designs can win architectural prizes – yet building quality is never questioned. Perhaps prestigious prizes should in future only be handed out to architects a year after the new builds have been operational and we get an idea of what their quality is truly like.

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    1. The "regeneration" of Wornington Green was granted planning permission despite the fact that even the very limited financial information made available at the time indicated that the scheme was not financially viable and the proposals for managing the scheme during a very lengthy construction period were, at best, clearly fiction.

      This would have been obvious to anyone who took more than a few minutes to examine the evidence submitted with the application. But the residents who sat though the meeting were left with the distinct impression that officers overtly supported the scheme irrespective of its many flaws and that most of the Councillors had not examined the proposals and were simply voting as instructed. And that appeared to include the Chairman.

      The cost cutting to make the scheme financially viable is now apparent. The new buildings are so poorly built that they are unlikely to last as long as those they replaced and provide mediocre housing at best, inadequate and unhealthy housing at worst.

      Worst of all the Council is willingly (and quietly) picking up some of the pieces - the tax payer is footing the bill for the restoration of the park (which Catalyst promised to do) and the Council's housing department is having to deal with the disaster that is the direct result of an unrealistic decant policy and plans to rehouse the existing population which completely ignored what that population was actually like.

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    2. There is currently no way to stop new homes being bought up by buy-to-let landlords. Buy-to-let has been encouraged by central government for the best part of 30 years - a foolish and short-sighted policy which has a clearly corrosive effect on communities and society as a whole.

      Sadly the incomes landlords expect to make from buy-to-let property are sustaining housing prices and it is unlikely that any government, current or future, will have the conviction or bravery to act in any way that MIGHT result in a significant fall in house prices despite the fact that bursting this particular bubble will be to the long-term benefit of everyone.

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    3. "The Mayor of London lauds the fact that so many new homes are being built in K and C, Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham."

      Boris is an idiot.

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    4. "The Mayor of London lauds the fact that so many new homes are being built in K and C, Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham."

      What surer sign can there be that Boris is an idiot?

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  3. Thank you for sharing this with your readers, Dame.

    The real tragedy here is that the 'old' buildings are damp and leaky after 40 years of neglect, whereas the 'new' buildings are damp and leaky due to building quality standards. Some tenants have been in their new flats for six to nine months; this is more than enough time to deal with 'snags'.

    So the real tragedy is that these are not snags but DEFECTS.

    It is on public record that I never supported this 'regeneration' for reasons stated elsewhere. However, I did expect that tenants would end up properly housed.

    The evidence we see that tenants are being subjected to damp, leaks, ceiling collapse and power outages is intolerable and must be dealt with at a high strategic level - now.

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  4. Once upon a time Housing Associations were charitable organisations that aimed to provide good quality housing to those on low incomes. These days many are little more than aspiring property developers. But if they want to play the property developer they should be stripped of their charitable status, which often amounts to little more than a tax fiddle.

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  5. The Councillors who voted for this travesty should hang their heads in shame, do the decent thing and resign from the Planning Committee.

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    1. From the minutes: "The Chairman asked for the Committee to vote on the application. Five Members supported the application and five Members opposed the approval of the development. The Executive Director of Planning and Borough Development confirmed that, according to the Guide to the Proceedings of the Committee (Section 11.3) and the Standing Orders of the Council's Constitution (Paragraph 45.01, Part 4), the Chairman had a casting vote. The Chairman chose to exercise his right to a casting vote and voted to grant the application."

      The eleven Councillors voting were: Councillors Terence Buxton (Chairman), Judith Blakeman, Professor Sir Anthony Coates, John Cox (Vice-Chairman), Keith Cunningham, Ian Donaldson, Priscilla Frazer, The Lady Hanham (Vice-Chairman), Andrew Lamont and Barry Phelps.

      The Labour Councillors voted against the application as did a few of the more independently minded Tories (i.e. those with a backbone). But those voting for the application included two subsequently disgraced Tory Councillors - Andrew Lamont and Barry Phelps.

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    2. VERY interesting ....

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    3. So who voted for this? Buxton (twice)? Coates? Cox? Lamont? Phelps? Fraser? Why is this not properly recorded in the minutes? Surely the electorate have a right to know how individual Councillors vote on such matters?

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    4. There were 10 Councillors voting not 11. But that in itself is extremely suspect. Having an even number of Councillors on a Committee pretty much ensures that one - the Chairman - can vote twice "should the need arise". Such Committees should always be composed of an odd number of Councillors, which would ensure that they only get one vote each, never two. It all stinks of vote rigging for political purposes.

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    5. 'Good practice' in the event of a split committee is for the Chair to vote for the status quo. But of course RBKC would never wish to be encumbered with 'good practice', good heavens, no.

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    6. Some Councillors simply do not want their voting record on file. They're spineless and unaccountable and they'd like to stay that way. The only way to find out how they vote is to turn up to meetings, witness proceedings and subsequently hold them to account for their actions.

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    7. Good practice is indeed in short supply in RBK&C.

      The Chair was no doubt "led" to a decision. Possibly by his own naivety. Possibly by officers. Possibly by his political masters. Take your pick.

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  6. Phelps and Lamont....disgusting perverts

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    1. And both were shortly to be revealed as the disgusting creatures they are.

      Phelps was gone by the Summer. Lamont was gone a year later (despite the Council keeping a lid on it for as long as possible).

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  7. The key question has been highlighted by Cllr. Dent Coad: this is a mess, tenants are suffering, what's the Council going to do about it?

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    1. The reason for my ranting blog plus illustrations is that the Council won't do anything about it. I've been trying to get them involved since last summer.

      I'm told that if the buildings aren't compliant with the planning permission they can act. But otherwise they will only get involved if there's a danger to life and limb!

      Damp, mould, floods and collapsing ceilings are simply not dangerous enough it seems; the Council are just washing their hands of the problem they created. Utter disgrace.

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    2. "Utter disgrace" is far too polite.

      The Council helped create the problem by approving the redevelopment, they need to help solve it.

      At the very least they should be proactively dealing with any reports from tenants as health and safety issues.

      Yes, these problems may not be dangerous enough for anyone to be killed or maimed, but leaks, mold and collapsing ceilings are still leaks, mold and collapsing ceilings; they are not harmless.

      Why are some many of our Councillors and Council officers spineless nobs? Man up and take some responsibility for this mess!

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    3. FROM ARDMORE GROUP WEBSITE: 'Catalyst has appointed Ardmore Construction Ltd as the main contractor for Portobello Square. “From an outstanding short list, choosing Ardmore was based on a number of criteria including their experience and expertise in building high quality mixed tenure regeneration schemes in London.” Griff Marshalsay, director of Catalyst by Design'

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    4. From memory didn't they appoint a different contractor before Ardmore?

      A contractor rather more competent but also a tad more expensive?

      Methinks press release speak with forked tongue.

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    5. Has anyone checked Griff's nose for any unexpected growth?

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    6. Mansells. They were nice. And competent. And they listened to residents' complaints and dealt with them.

      The story goes however that Ardmore offered at least £10m off the price.

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    7. £10 million less? The only way to achieve that is by cutting corners. And I think we can see where corners were cut ...

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  8. I live on Wornington so am better qualified than most. These problems are real and have been ongoing since people started moving in to these properties, it isn't new. Our councillor is drumming up support in the run up to local elections- pure and simple.

    Ardmore's staff and subcontractors are cowboys as far as we are concerned and those of us set to move in the next 'phase' are terrified that we're stuck with them because somebody high up the ladder in Catalyst is sleeping or being paid off by somebody from Ardmore.

    We are resigned to this regeneration malarkey but want real sustained support to help make the selection process for construction partners more transparent and make sure that lessons are learnt not soundbites and blog posts.

    Catalyst have some very decent hardworking staff who walk around the estate apologising and are really trying to get problems sorted but Ardmore don't respond and when they do they patch things up poorly.

    We are tired, anxious and just want to know that things will get better.

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    Replies
    1. A piece of advice from someone involved in over 10 years of refurbishment works on a large Council estate: when contractors do shit work the party that needs to be held to account is the one paying the bill. In our case: the local authority and their ALMO. In this case: Catalyst. The worst thing you can do is start making excuses for them.

      The local Catalyst staff may be helpful and apologetic but apologies are worthless when residents are suffering. It's easy to say sorry (in fact those working in the social housing sector seem to do it instinctively as they're always apologising for their latest cock-ups). It's much harder to actually do something about it, which is probably why they rarely do. Do not absolve the local staff from responsibility. They are responsible for their own part of this fiasco whether they like it or not.

      This regeneration will only get better if those paying for it want it to. Judging by your own post, let alone the others here, there's very little sign of that happening any time soon. As things stand later phases promise to be just as shit as the first one.

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  9. Wornington resident - why would your Councillor be 'drumming up support in the run up to local elections' on a Conservative blog?

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    1. … for the same reason as the Tories are repaying £100 of the Council Tax they annually overcharge residents. They could have done this any and every year, or permanently reduce Council Tax, so why now? It will only impact upon residents of lower valued homes, but they are not stupid enough to make this change their vote from Labour to Conservative.

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  10. What I cannot understand is why the Council's Building Control Department and Environmental Health Department are not in there and taking enforcement action. The local councillor has told them often enough of these problems. The Council can't use the usual excuse that this is just housing for poor people. The buy to let landlords will be targeting a very professional market and the few overseas buyers who actually come to view their investment will be horrified at its poor sell-on value.

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  11. Just an FYI, and something different but related. I have recently had experience of dealing with Catalyst on Help To Buy, I was warned in advance by those with previous experience that I would have problems.

    They appear to have neither the quality or quantity of staff needed, and overall appear to have no idea how the manage the process at all.

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  12. I'd count myself lucky. Help to Buy is quite simply a very bad idea. You'll end up saddled with a 90% mortgage at higher than average interest rates. Do yourself a favour and either save a larger deposit or find a cheaper property elsewhere that you can buy using a normal mortgage at normal rates.

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  13. I appreciate you writing this post, I was some what familiar with this subject.
    It’s always good learning unusual concepts.
    Punna Chiang Mai

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  14. I used to work for him, worst time of my life, treated me like dirt, lied through their teeth to sack me, to this day I have no idea why I lost my job the real reason must be less convincing than the load of rubbish they mentioned in the disciplinary hearing

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