46 hours to go… To the BC Xmas Gathering (it’s not a rave). Bevin Court lobby 6-8pm – there will be face-painting, halal and vegetarian food and wine. A tree and Father Christmas…


Dennis Brown the man next door – see you all neighbours and fam

Or for another generation:

Bevin Court lobby 6-8pm  – there will be face-painting, halal and vegetarian food and wine. A tree and Father Christmas…

St John Street Tenants and Residents Panel Meeting – Tuesday 29th November 2016

screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-15-48-50Val Barnes from Islington Council has written to invite all  residents to the following event:

Dear All


RE: St John Street Tenants and Residents Panel Meeting


I am writing to invite you to the next Tenants and Residents’ panel meeting.

The Tenants and Residents’ Panels have been set up so that council tenants and leaseholders can meet directly with housing staff and have their say about what is happening in their local area. It is open to all council tenants and residents that live in the Clerkenwell, Bunhill and St Peters wards.

The meeting will be held on:-


Date:               Tuesday 29th November 2016


Venue:           Tompion Community Centre

                        40 Percival Street,

                        EC1V 0HX

Time:              7.00 – 9:00 pm


Please find enclosed

  • The Agenda
  • Minutes of previous meeting
  • Action Sheet



If you have any queries or require any further information, please contact me on 020 7527 6259. Alternatively you can email me atvalerie.barnes@islington.gov.uk


I look forward to seeing you there.


Yours sincerely,





Val Barnes

Section 20 notice of intent to upgrade heating system


This week leaseholders at Bevin Court each received a Section 20 notice of intent for upgrading the heating system here. This follows on from the informal consultation that the council has carried out with the TRA over the last 18 months or so. Leaseholders will be charged for their share of the works, and can email homeownership@islington.gov.uk with their views on this. Sadly, tenants do not have the same statutory rights to be consulted at this stage. If people have strong views about the work and don’t feel they have a voice, let the TRA know and we can channel them to the council using via some of our leaseholders.

Here’s what we posted a while back about the planned works:

While the boiler and heating risers in the boiler house have been replaced in the last ten years, the parts of the system inside the flats are approaching 30 years old and will need replacing soon.



The plan is to remove all internal pipework, tanks and radiators within each dwelling and replace it on a like for like basis. However there will be some significant improvements;

  • We will have new thermostatic radiator valves, and room thermostats with a time clock, giving a single control for the heating in each flat.
  • The hot water cylinders will be upgraded to give a faster recovery time, meaning that it will be possible to run another hot bath after a wait of only 20 minutes.
  • Unlike the existing Elson tanks, the cold water cylinder will be separated from the hot, meaning that the cold water will no longer be tepid from heat leakage from the hot tank.
  • The new tanks will where possible be placed higher up in the flat, which will improve water pressure, though not to the extent that the pressure would be adequate for showering. This would still require the installation of a pump, something that LBI are not prepared to provide as it would present them with an additional long term maintenance cost.
  • We will get a choice of a heated towel rail or a radiator in our bathrooms.



There will be no radio controlled thermostats as previous installations in Islington have proved problematic.


We will continue to have a 2 pipe system – this means that each flat has both hot water and central heating available all year round. Other flats have a 4 pipe system which allows for the central heating to be turned off in the summer. However it would be prohibitively expensive to convert Bevin Court to this system as the layout of the plant room would have to be substantially altered and there is not sufficient space to do so.



In terms of the works inside the flats, the plan is that each dwelling will be surveyed individually, with a design for the work agreed in advance with the specific tenant or leaseholder. The works will be loud, as they will require drilling into the concrete of the building, and will be carried out between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday. There will not be any scaffolding.


The work in each dwelling will take place over a week, with the ambition that it can be completed in three days per flat. No home will be left without hot water in the evenings. The works are to be planned for Spring & Summer months, so that heating should not be necessary for most residents.  Should heating be required while the works are underway in our flats, the council will lend us electric heaters. There will be considerable disruption during the work, as the contractors will have to get access to all pipework and radiators throughout the flat.


Any pipes that are currently boxed in will be boxed in again at the end of the job, but in general the new pipework will be left exposed. All new pipework will be painted white. The new radiators are likely to be smaller than existing; therefore residents may have to make good the paintwork around the new installation. Any existing pumps that residents have in their flats will be tested and connected to the new system.



The costs recharged to leaseholders are still to be determined, following the evaluation of the tendering process. The target start date for the work is Spring 2017. The key factor in keeping the project on schedule is to get access when required to each flat. The Islington Project Managers see the experience of the first few residents to have the works carried out as critical; if they are happy then the word will spread and other residents will be more willing to cooperate with the contractors. If this is a success then multiple teams can work across the building and works should be completed between April and October.


The work will be put out to tender. The TRA have asked for potential contractors to be selected on the basis of having experience of working on other listed buildings. There will initially be site meetings every two weeks, moving to monthly once the project is running smoothly. There will be permanent site office here on a location to be decided, though this is likely to be in the car park. There is a possibility of a respite area being provided for residents who wish to escape the noise & disruption during works in their flat.

Forthcoming film shoot at Bevin Court

12 1946 70 Arriflex 35

Following a kind donation to the TRA funds a film shoot will be happening on the 29th November… Here’s a letter to residents from the producer: 

To the Residents of Bevin Court,


My name is Lies Scheps and I am currently finishing my MA in Fashion Communication and Promotion at Central Saint MUniversity of the Arts London. For my graduation project I am making a fashion film called ‘Disconnect‘. I intend to shoot on Tuesday, 29 November in the beautiful Bevin Court with my friendly and hardworking team. The film is about the internet and we think that the wonderful architecture of the staircase could create a strong link to our concept. 


We intend to arrive on location in Bevin Court at 10:00 and will be packed up to leave by 15:30; we hope this will minimize any disruption. During the first and last hour we will not be shooting. In the first hour we will set up the cameras and lighting, and get our models in make-up and outfits. We will use the last hour to clean up after ourselves. We intend to shoot largely on the staircase, one scene on the roof, and one shot near the entrace of the building. Of course, we will minimize any inconvenienve this may cause the residence. We will arrive by public transport and uber taxis, so there will not be any disturbance from vehicles or parking. We will not be carrying out any special action shots or be loud, as the sound will be recorded separately in the studio. As we will be filming mostly inside on the staircase, the access to the site will not be affected. 


If there are any issues with the shoot, please let us know how we can help. I can personally be contacted on 07857222249. Alternatively the Islington Film Office who have processed this application can be contacted on 0207 620 0391 should any issues arise.


Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding.


Kind regards,


Lies Scheps


Still no gas in the East Wing!

We’re now several weeks into the east wing having no gas – for some residents this means they’re not able to cook except with the primitive electric hobs provided by National Grid, for others they have no hot water to wash.

We contacted the Estate Services Manager today to ask for action in three areas while the work to fix the gas supply is carried out as it appears that this work may take some time:

1. Information – many residents don’t feel like they know what is going on or how long the issues could take to be resolved. In this vacuum of hard facts, rumours spread. Can the residents be told what the real timescale is? The TRA will help spread news as it comes in, using our website, twitter and face to face chat. Perhaps a council officer could do a door knocking exercise at the affected homes to tell residents what is happening and to check on their individual circumstances and for specific cases of hardship.
2. Amelioration – could residents without hot water be offered better temporary heating (more heaters where needed) and perhaps the installation of an electric shower as a temporary measure in their homes? A plumber could install one of these in an hour or so per dwelling. If this isn’t possible could the council pay for them to get the use of shower facilities in a local gym or hotel? For the residents deprived of gas for cooking, could they have the temporary cooking facilities upgraded? I’ve been told its hard to prepare food properly with what they’ve been given.
3. Compensation – could residents be offered some payment towards extra electricity costs incurred while they are cooking and for some heating their homes with electricity? This has been raised as a serious issue for those on low incomes in particular.  Some kind of goodwill payment on top of this that could cover an occasional meal in a cafe or restaurant would also give them some respite from the situation.
The video – how they bribed us in the 1980s to accept Gas privatisation – because private monopolies would never rip off the public would they? 

Save our plants: Saved!

UPDATE MON 21st – Catherine Shawsmith has been in touch to say we can keep our plants: “plants kept in non plastic containers and not in the walk ways will not be an issue”. Fab…



Yesterday we all got a hand distributed letter from the council asking us to remove everything from outside our homes on the access walkways.

This has upset a number of residents as they like to grow small pots of flowers outside their homes. This is the email I’ve sent to the council to ask them to revise this policy – you can add your voice to this by emailing our estate services manager Catherine Shawsmith your views: catherine.shawsmith@islington.gov.uk.

Dear Catherine

A number of residents have contacted me about your letter that was hand delivered yesterday to the entire estate here. I’m copying this to some of the affected residents.
They are distressed that they will have to get rid of the plants they have grown in pots outside their front doors. I think we should acknowledge the emotional importance of growing plants for many people at their homes. It’s understood by many housing experts that it’s important for people to have small ways of personalising their space in flatted accomodation, and growing plants by their front door is a simple and socially beneficial way for them to do this; not only does it benefit the individual resident, it also makes the whole estate look nicer for all of us.
While I completely support the need to keep the landing areas clear of obstructions in case of the need to evacuate the building, there is no need to ban every plant pot on the landings. The full width of the landings is not available already; a depth of up to around 9″ has been taken up by covers for pipework installed since the building was finished. In fact the poor build quality of some of these covers obstructs the full opening of some of the security doors meaning that they cannot open fully. These present a genuine hazard in case of evacuation.
I suggest a revised policy on plant pots- residents should be allowed to place pots against the brickwork of their flat to a depth no greater than 9″ so that the front of the pots does not protrude proud of the pipe covers. This would allow us to escape in an emergency, would keep the estste looking nice and floral, and keep our green fingered residents happy in their homes.
Today’s filmclip is a trailer for the 1984 tv version of Day of the Triffids. Plants that really could kill you…

Estate Xmas Gathering for residents and their families, rescheduled to Friday 2nd December 1800-2000

Contrary to rumours, this isn’t going to be a wild rave. This is a small social gathering for the residents of Bevin Court and their families to meet their neighbours, have a glass or wine or a soft drink and have a snack. As an inclusive event there will be halal and vegetarian options with the catering. I’m even coming as Santa…

Today’s video clip is from 1955 classic Ealing movie the Ladykillers. Set in Kings Cross (including shots of Vernon Square), it starts Katie Johnson as saintly Mrs Wilberforce who unwittingly defeats a cunning band of crooks. She has a suitably sedate tea party in the film, but I can’t find a clip of that on YouTube, so instead here we see her battling Frankie Howard…



No Gas in East Wing

Here’s an update on the gas supply problems in the East wing from Olivia Thompson:

On Wednesday 2nd November at around 10.45pm residents of the east wing of Bevin Court were alerted to the fact that their gas supply had been switched off. The National Grid employees that came knocking door to door informed residents that due the size of the building and it’s listed status residents may be without gas for anything up to 6 weeks, and that scaffolding may have to be erected along the building to replace all the gas pipework. Small heaters and one plate electric hobs were given out to residents. Over the weekend little work was seen to be carried out, although it does appear that a section of the pipe had been removed by the exit door near Holford Yard. As we had had no further update, I telephoned the National Grid using the phone number given to me by the NG employees on the Wednesday. At this stage I was told that the National Grid had had no report of any problem and that they would have to send out an engineer. An engineer arrived within twenty minutes and informed me that the letter that had been given out to the residents was incorrect and he gave me an updated leaflet which had the correct contact numbers for the contractors which had taken over the job. As the offices for these contractors are only open during the week I had to wait until today (Monday 7th) to telephone. The contractors’ office confirmed that they are handling the situation, and that an inspection had been carried out to assess the work required. This inspection was currently being processed through their system, but as we live in a listed building any work required may have to be approved by English Heritage. He could not confirm how long residents would be without gas but did concede that it would be a minimum of 1-2 weeks, and a maximum of around 6 weeks. I pointed out that although we had been given heaters we had no way of getting hot water, and mentioned that the NG employees had told me that we should request urns. Hot water urns have now been requested for all 43(?) flats affected and should arrive today or tomorrow. I was told to call back tomorrow afternoon for an update by which time it was hoped the surveyors report would show the work required and therefore the period of time which the residents would have to wait for their gas supply to return.

Here’s the contact numbers for the contractors doing the job: 02038698911 or 02038698912

UPDATE – The contractors will only give you a water urn if you ask them for one – call them the above numbers…


More info on the estate improvements



Following the TRA committee meeting on the 27th October, we had some questions about the detail of these projects. Here’s a summary of the exchange between me (TC) and Bjorn (BA) at LB Islington that clarifies the points arising from the meeting:

(TC) Bin stores – the drawings show space for 4 bins. Does the design only provide for recycling now? Are the paladin bins to be enclosed in the new stores, or left where they are? If the paladin bins are to be kept in their existing site, will they be enclosed in the bin stores ordered earlier this year but not installed?  What if any provision is being made for bulk waste storage?

(BA) The funding provision was allocated solely for the construction of a concrete base to provide a solid footing for the recycling bin enclosure which was to be funded separately by the Recycling Team. Please refer to the original application submitted by Julia. As such, the proposal for a refuse bin enclosure and bulk refuse store won’t be developed by the Special Projects team as there is no funding provision. I understand that the Estate Services team may have been working with Julia to develop something separately.

(TC) Parking. This one gets as many different opinions as there are people!  We all agreed to revisit this issue in the new year. Meanwhile maintaining the status quo is probably the least contentious option.

(BA) The status quo to be maintained for now.

(TC) The committee voted to say we feel the walk around space at the back gate must be incorporated in the works currently underway (or at least that some provision is made for pedestrians etc to pass the gate when it is locked). There are funds in the region of £1500 held by the council that were paid by the producers of the tv film Esio Trot over a year ago, intended as a contribution towards estate improvements. This was meant to pay for some estate lighting that has never materialised; the committee voted to ask for these funds to be allocated instead to fund the walk around path at the rear gate.

(BA) I am seeking clarification on the level of funds available from the Esio Trot filming and will let you know. If there is enough in the pot we can look to procure the work to construct a walk around path at the same time as the other proposed works for the estate. However, there isn’t likely to be enough to also fund a set of folding bollards.

(TC) Planters – everyone really likes the latest design. Well done to you and your team! We have had feedback asking me to make sure that there will be a tap included here to allow the gardeners to water the plants here. Could you let me know this is the case, and liaise with Tim about its location?

(BA) Thanks for the feedback on the planter design. Once we have received planning approval we will re-visit site with the architect to go through the specification and construction detail of the planter which will include the water point/tap and consideration of existing service provisions as part of the procurement at tender stage.


(BA) No through road sign: I have attached the design for the post mounted sign proposed for Bevin Way. The aluminium panel (450mm x 450mm x 3mm thick) will be finished with a powder coated printed face and clear anti-graffiti coating to be fixed to a grey aluminium post and concreted into position. The cost is £364 +VAT. Please share with the TRA/resident group and let me know if you are happy to proceed so that I can pick this up on my return from leave. IMAGE ABOVE