On Tuesday 27 June 2017, Year 5 pupils from Clerkenwell Parochial School on Amwell Street will be visiting Bevin Court.
This visit is coordinated by the “Bevin Court Community Restoration Project” (which restored the mural and bust at Bevin Court), another Heritage London funded project called “Little Architect” and The Amwell Society.
Little Architect is an education and learning platform for teaching architecture and sustainability in London’s primary schools led by the Architectural Association School of Architecture. It promotes creative thinking and a better understanding of our built environment for future generations.
Read The Guardian’sround-up of The Housing & Planning Act 2016 here:
With Shelter’slatest analysis showing that 1 in 51 Londoners are now homeless, genuinely affordable housing like Council Housing is more crucial than ever. Read the BBC’s coverage Shelter’s latest about homelessness in the UK here
I wanted to provide some background and additional details about the planned estate improvements.
As you may recall, one of the issues we discussed when establishing this Tenants’ & Residents’ Association (TRA) was that it would give us access to Islington Council’s annual Estate Improvements and Estate Security budgets. This year, I chose to create three bids, based on a variety of factors – feedback from residents I have spoken to, concerns raised by Islington Council representatives & concerns raised by residents on the sign-up sheets which were distributed at our first meeting in May of 2015.
I hoped that these bids would be welcomed by residents and would be seen as desirable. This consultation is to decide if we want to go ahead with these plans and to determine how we want to proceed where there are different options available to us.
You feedback is very important, so if you have feelings about one of more of these schemes, please express them. You may, of course, be neutral about the plans and feel that they do not affect you or are not relevant to you, but we want to be sure that, where residents have opinions, they are heard.
New areas of hardstanding and new stores for waste & recycling bins
The bid for waste & recycle bin stores arose out of the planned withdrawal of the blue bag recycling scheme. You can read more about Islington Estate recycling here.
I met with Jean Hughes of Islington Council Recycling Team to discuss our requirements for recycling bins after the blue bag scheme ceases. Jean suggested that we would need 4 bins, emptied at least twice weekly. However, there is not room for 4 recycle bins plus the paladin waste bins and food waste bin without blocking the access road in front of flats 8-13, which is meant to provide access for emergency vehicles e.g. fire & ambulance.
We explored a number of options for housing the bins elsewhere on the estate. These were posted on the lobby notice board and around the estate. You can view them here.
We also considered converting the central rubbish chute into a recycling only chute. There were concerns about this as it meant that residents in the maisonette wing would not have a nearby rubbish chute, as they do not have a chute and the end of their landing as do the East & West wings. This plan was eventually abandoned as being unworkable.
Jean arranged for a survey to be sent to all 118 flats at Bevin Court. She received six replies. As these were confidential, they were not directly shared with me, but as I understand it, all were opposed to the chute recycling scheme.
Therefore, it was determined that we would have to create a new area of hardstanding to house the bins. I suggested that we excavate and pave an area next to the car park stairs, adjacent to the existing manhole cut-out and house the bins there. As these works were beyond the remit and finances of the Recycling Team, I agreed to bid for funding from the Estate Improvements Budget to augment the funding available for the project. The bid was successful and the project is to be co-funded by our successful bid and the Recycling Team.
The plan is for the newly created area to house the 4 recycle bins, the food waste bin and an area for lumber store (disposal of bulk items like furniture until they can be collected). The existing large paladin bins would also be housed in bin stores in their current location opposite the rear entrance.
Given that the state and sight of the bins are a constant source of complaint, as well as the expanded need for recycle bins on withdrawal of the blue bag scheme, I felt this plan would be welcomed by residents.
There is a choice to be made regarding the style of bin stores to be used. Two options have been proposed by the Recycling team. They are the Metrostor bin stores or the Green Roof bin stores.
The Metrostor bin stores look like this:
and are constructed from recycled plastic.
They can also be made from wood, which look like this:
but the wood bin stores are less durable and have a shorter guarantee period.
You can read more about Metrostor bins one their website here.
The Green Roof bin stores are another option. They look like this:
and are manufactured from wood and steel with an area on the roof filled with soil which would be planted with attractive plants & flowers. The end panels incorporate a variety of natural materials – wood, stones etc. and can also house panels with information about the natural environment. We hope that these will provide an attractive sight to look down upon, which is the way most residents of the West & East Wings view the bins.
Either of these options can be supplied with or without doors. Our caretaker and the waste collection team have expressed a preference for bin stores without doors as these are easier for them to get the bins in and out of, but it means that some ground floor West wing residents will still be faced with the sight of bins. Bearing this in mind, I would suggest that we opt for bin stores with doors, so that the bins are hidden from the sight of ground floor residents.
We hope that the enlargement and enclosure of the waste & recycling area will address an area of concern & dissatisfaction for many residents.
In relation to the waste & recycling area, we have three options:
Option 1: Create the new area of hardstanding and erect the bin stores described. We would need to choose which type of bin store we prefer.
Option 2: Ask the Council to commission their architects to design another solution, bearing in mind that we risk lose our funding, as the money was granted based on the plan outlined above.
Option 3: Do nothing and return the bid money to the Council for another use.
Installation of deterrent paving on the South Wing loggia
This is an area that I have been looking into with the MAGPI since Feb 2013. The MAGPI is a multi-agency group involving Council representatives, police representatives and residents. I was invited to attend MAGPI meetings by our Estate Services Coordinator.
The loggia has been an attractor of anti-social behaviour for some time. We regularly have people “hanging out” here and drinking, especially on warm summer nights. They can be noisy and disruptive. I know that I have personally called the ASB team on many occasions when I have been awoken by drunken people in the loggia being disruptive. Other residents have reported the same to me. There are also sometimes people using and selling drugs in the area as well as prostitutes (and others) having sex here.
Rough sleeping is a separate issue as it is not in and of itself ASB. Rough sleepers can cause ASB, e.g. the recent spate of human defecation on the loggia, but just sleeping in the area is not ASB. People rough sleeping should be helped to move on to more secure arrangements and police and Streetlink have worked to try to find solutions for the recent wave of rough sleepers in the area. There is a Streetlink poster displayed on the notice board in the lobby and you can call them to talk about rough sleepers on 0300 500 0914.
You can also report rough sleepers to then online via their website here.
The MAGPI proposed several possible solutions to the problems arising from misuse of the loggia.
It was suggested that it be bricked up, but this was rejected on conservation grounds as we are a Grade II* Listed Building.
It was also suggested that the loggia be fenced off with chain link fencing, but this was also rejected on the same grounds.
Finally, it was suggested that a Tango rail fence be erected across the end of the loggia, from the wall adjacent to the loggia to the Holford Gardens fence. This was also rejected on conservation grounds.
After this series of rejections, I suggested the installation of deterrent paving. Deterrent paving is not so-called “homeless spikes”, it is uneven paving designed to be uncomfortable to sit or stand on in order to keep people from congregating in or using an area. There are two basic styles; one is formed concrete with an uneven surface (known as Lambeth paving) and the other uses natural rocks embedded in concrete to create the uneven surface. I personally find the natural rock solution more attractive, but it is also more expensive.
Lambeth Deterrent Paving
River Cobble Deterrent Paving
The installation of this paving was set to go ahead in Nov 2015 as our Estate Services Coordinator had funding for the works. However, the project was delayed in seeking planning permission and the funding had to be spent before the end of the fiscal year or it would be lost. I agreed with our Estate Services Coordinator that I would bid for funding of the project from the Estate Improvements budget, which I successfully did. As the work is now proposed by the TRA rather than the Council directly, this means that residents are being consulted on what their preferred options are. Some people feel that deterrent paving in unattractive. I agree that it can be rather ugly, which is why I prefer the natural cobblestone option to the formed concrete option. There is another style of deterrent paving in use in Great Percy Street by Browning’s garage which I also think is more attractive that Lambeth style paving.
Wave style deterrent paving
I discussed the deterrent paving option with Islington Conservation Officer Kristian Kaminski and Mike Dunn from Historic England. Kristian Kaminski advised that in installation of deterrent paving would, of course, require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and suggested I consult Historic England. He also suggested installation of “large freestanding stones not cemented to the concrete” as they “wouldn’t even require LBC and would be preferential to the use of any cement”. He also suggested metal or concrete planters, which again would not need LBC as they are freestanding item. Finally, he suggested the use of “concrete spikes”, which I personally would not approve of.
Historic England’s position is that “Historic England would have no objections in principle to your proposals, and we would be content for Islington Council to decide the matter as they see fit.”
As an alternative to deterrent paving, the chair of Bevin Community Gardens, Tim Spoor, proposed filling this area with planters and planters, so that no-one could get onto the loggia. I had concerns about this plan as I was worried that the plants might end of being vandalised. I was also concerned about the viability of the plants as there is no water supply in the area and the containers under cover of the loggia would receive no rain water and so would need regular watering. The lack of light in the rear of the loggia could also threaten the viability of plants in that area, in my opinion.
My vice-chair Tom Cordell, has objected strongly to the idea of deterrent paving as you can read elsewhere on this blog. In response to this, he contacted the architect John Allan who is a renowned expert of Bertholdt Lubetkin, the architect of Bevin Court. John proposed the installation of planters around the edge of the loggia, with or without deterrent paving in the area behind the planters.
I think this is an excellent compromise – if we install concrete planters along the edge, similar to what they have at Spa Green (another local Lubetkin building), this could prevent people from gaining access to the loggia. I think it is important to ensure that there is still deterrent paving behind the planters, out of sight, as otherwise the planters could end up creating an even more secluded and private place for anti-social behaviours and rough sleeping.
This is what the planters as Spa Green looked like:
Spa Green Estate planters
So, the choices we have are:
1. Install deterrent paving, an uneven paving surface designed to discourage people from using an area by making it uncomfortable to sit or stand on
2. Install concrete planters around the edge of the area, with or without deterrent paving behind them. Planters might prevent people from using the area, but they might also create an even more secluded area behind the planters, hidden by plants.
Planters with deterrent paving behind would disguise the deterrent paving, but still prevent people from congregating.
3. Do nothing and return the bid money to the Council for another use. Some people do not see the behaviours I have described as problematic. Some people argue that those using this area have a right to be here and we should accept their presence.
Estate “no-parking” improvements
I confess that this was my “sacrifice bid”. I made this bid prepared to give it up in favour of the other two schemes if there was not enough money to go around.
If you are home at Bevin Court during working hours, you will have noticed that there frequently are vans from Islington Repair Team and other contractors (Wates, Mitie etc) parked around the estate, especially in the area in front of the ground floor maisonettes (flats 2-6) and around the boiler house at the rear of the estate. On some occasions we have had vans entirely blocking the emergency access road at the rear of the block. We have also had vans left parked in the circle at the front, again blocking access to emergency vehicles.
We have a small amount of double yellow lining in front of the ground floor maisonettes and a confusing and very ignorable array of signs dotted around the front of the estate.
My bid was to create legitimate spaces for contractor parking by the boiler house and to make it clear via double lining and/or signage that the circle and the rear access road were to be kept clear for emergency vehicles.
When I reviewed this scheme with Bjorn Alcantara of Islington’s Special Projects team, we discussed the potentially ugly nature of double lining and I stressed to him that creating legitimate parking for contractors and making it clear that the circle and rear access not be blocked were the goals. The scheme was also to install additional bollards along the top of the rear access road to prevent parking on the grass verge and to provide a foot path around the rear gate for use when the gate is closed.
We also need to ensure that parking on the estate is ENFORCED. Wing Parking, which holds the contract, don’t seem to be doing an effective job and in my experience are frequently unresponsive.
Islington Special Projects team have rejected the two parking spaces in front of the boiler house which was proposed, meaning we need to find another place to provide contractor parking. Two options were discussed:
1. Try to encourage residents parking in the unsecured bays opposite flats 5-6 in the ground floor maisonettes to move into the gated & locked car park instead. Our Estate Services Coordinator was concerned that this might appear as if Islington Council was giving preference to contractor parking over resident parking, but I feel it is still worth exploring if any residents parking in this area would be willing to move to the car park to free up spaces so that we can offer legitimate parking for contractor vehicles.
2. Assign two spaces in the gated & locked car park for contractor parking. This is complicated by the need for keys, which may be difficult to manage.
There is one unnumbered parking space at the front entrance gate of Bevin Court which is intended (as I understand it) to be visitor/contractor parking, but it is not sign posted as such as is frequently occupied by vans and other vehicles which do not display an Estate Parking permit.
There are three basic ways we could go with this bid.
Option 1: We would like to provide at least two authorised parking spaces for vehicles working on the estate and clarify the parking restrictions elsewhere on the estate. This would involve 5 points:
1. A review of all the existing parking signage to make it clear and concise
2. Paint double lining around the front circle and the rear emergency access road
3. Install bollards above the gate at the rear entrance to prevent parking on the grass
4. Installation of a foot path around the rear gate so residents do not have to walk through mud & dirt when the gate is closed
5. Installation of a “No Thru Road” sign at the rear of the estate to deter drivers looking for a short-cut through to Pentonville Road.
Option 2: We would like to provide at least two authorised parking spaces for vehicles working on the estate and clarify the parking restrictions elsewhere on the estate. This would involve 4 points:
1. A review of all the existing parking signage to make it clear and concise
2. Install bollards above the gate at the rear entrance to prevent parking on the grass
3. Installation of a foot path around the rear gate so residents do not have to walk through mud & dirt when the gate is closed
4. Installation of a “No Thru Road” sign at the rear of the estate to deter drivers looking for a short-cut through to Pentonville Road.
This is the same as Option 1, but without the double yellow lining.
Option 3: If we feel there is no problem, we can do nothing and return the bid money to the Council for another use.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the entire TRA.
Alternative Provision for New Recycling Facilities at Bevin Court
The greatest concern about the current facilities for rubbish, recycling and bulky waste collection areas at the rear of Bevin Court is that they are very unsightly. 82% of the flats in Bevin Court look out over this unsightly collection of rubbish & waste, yet nothing is done to reduce the ugliness of this area.
Currently, there are 4 paladin bins; two recycle bins, a food waste bin and whatever has been dumped for bulk collection in this area. There is no effort to ameliorate the eye-sore this has created for the residents of the West & East wings, all of whom have a view of this to at least some extent. This is especially true for the residents of Flats 8, 9, 10, 21 and 22 who are largely treated to the unsavoury view of rubbish bins from their kitchen windows.
The photos below are not unusual of the state of the area:
Given that Islington Council intends to withdraw the current “blue bag” scheme for door step collection of dry mixed recycling, we need to find an alternative solution to recycling collection at Bevin Court. It would be a good time to address the issue of the unsightly nature of the facilities at Bevin Court as the current eye-sore is potentially being enlarged even further by the possible addition of two more recycle bins. There was a strong opinion among residents that Bevin Court is continually overlooked for improvements outside of cyclical major works. The perception among residents is that Bevin Court rarely, if ever, benefits from either the Estate Security or Environmental Improvements budgets, for example. The major impetus behind the creation of the new TRA at Bevin Court was to try to increase our representation at Old Street and gain better access to these resources. At a recent Old Street Area Housing Panel meeting, a list of 30 projects totalling over £220,000 was distributed which included an item for £3,000 budgeted and over £10,000 actually spent on decorative screens for the bins at Hawkwell Walk. Surely there should be some funding from the Recycling or Environmental Improvements budgets for some waste management improvements at Bevin Court?
The provision of facilities to replace the withdrawal of the blue bag recycle scheme needs to be carefully & sensitively considered, especially given Bevin Court’s Listed Building status and location within the New River Conservation Area. I would suggest that the Recycle Team should take advice from the Council’s architects and Conservation Officers regarding placement of new bins and the construction of any new hard-standing areas, ramps etc. This document is a collection of ideas from members of Bevin Court’s TRA and is not expert opinion.
The following have been suggested as alternative locations for the new recycle bins planned:
1. Place two additional bins in front of the boiler house
This is the current proposal by Islington Council. Two bins would remain where they currently are and two additional bins would be placed on the driveway in front of the boiler house, to the left of the boiler house doors but not obscuring them. This has the advantage of requiring no work or expenditure on the part of the Council. However, residents have raised a number of objections to this proposed location. Objections/concerns raised were:
1.1. Placing bins here would increase the problem we already have with people gaining unauthorised access to the building by climbing over the railings in front of flats 15-16 by giving the offenders a new object to climb on 1.2. Placing bins here would increase the blight at the rear of the building 1.3. Placing bins here would be an unfair noise, odour and visual nuisance to the residents immediately above them (flats 14-16) 1.4. Having recycle bins in two different locations at the rear of the building would be confusing for residents
Concern 1.1 could be reduced or removed by installing additional clear polycarbonate screens above the railings in front of flats 14-16, but this removes the cost-free attraction for the Council. It is more difficult to see how concerns 1.2 or 1.3 could be addressed. A decorative screen would not resolve the issue with appearance as residents of the first floor East Wing look down on the bins, not out on them, so the bin chamber would need an attractive roof. One resident suggested covering the chamber with a climbing plant, for example.
2. Review the case for a recycling chute at Bevin Court
Rather than place additional bins on the estate, residents suggested reviewing the possibility of a dedicated recycling chute at Bevin Court. Bevin Court has three rubbish chutes. One is located in the central staircase between the lifts. The other two are located at the distal ends of the East & West Wings. In 2012, Bevin Court was reviewed by Anna Burns for the conversion of the blue bag scheme to a dedicated recycling chute scheme. The proposal was to convert either the central chute or the distal chutes to dedicated recycling chutes. This was dismissed, as I recall, because the South Wing has no chute at its distal end, unlike the East & West Wings, and it was felt that the central chute would require too much re-education to get residents on-board. We would ask that this proposal – convert the central chute at Bevin Court – be included in a list of options for the upcoming planned consultations with residents. If there is sufficient support for the idea, this would be the ideal solution to trial. The two existing recycle bins could remain where they are for collection of larger items e.g. flattened boxes etc., with the bulk of recycling collected via the central chute.
3. By the pump-house off the entrance to the car park
This will require an area of hard standing to be laid and should preferably be enclosed/covered with a decorative screen and be lit. There are some hopes/plans afoot for additional lighting at the rear of Bevin Court anyway. We were gifted £1,500 by Islington Film Fixer towards the cost of additional lighting at the rear of the estate, specifically around the two stairwells that lead to the car park and at the gate to the car park, as this
area is in total darkness. Lighting the recycle station in this area could be accomplished as part of this scheme.
There is some concern that the proximity of this site to Bevin Way could encourage fly-tipping, as we already have a problem with people not from the estate dumping bulky waste to the rear of the building. There was also some concern that this was “too far” from the building and that people would not use it. If all 4 bins were situated together, rather than 2 in their current spot by the paladin bins and 2 here, this would alleviate this concern. This area has the advantage of not contributing to the ugly views at the rear of the building for residents of the second floor and above, as it is undercover of trees. This could be further reduced by the use of decorative screening to hide the bins from view.
4. At the end of the emergency access road at the rear of the building
This will also require an area of hard standing to be laid and should also be enclosed/covered with a decorative screen and be lit. Lighting the area should be relatively inexpensive as it is close to the building. The kerb stones which were here were removed and not re-instated by Breyer to allow the installation of a metal storage cube in this area during the contract they performed on the estate, so it is essentially level access already.
This may share the same concerns of being “too far” for people to use. It may also be disruptive to the residents at the end of the West Wing, especially Flat 13 and 25 on the ground at first floor who would be in close proximity, and may be seen to extend the blight at the rear of the building by including areas at both ends of the West Wing.
5. In the portico behind Flat 13 at the end of the West Wing
This would require the installation of ramps to allow the bins to be wheeled from the portico to the adjacent pathway and also from the pathway to the driveway at the rear of the building as there are currently 2 small steps there.
Again, this may share concerns of being “too far” for people to use. It may also be potentially disruptive to nearby residents, especially Flat 13. This portico already attracts some ASB; for example, stolen motorbikes taken for “joy-rides” by local youths have been dumped here, there have been instances of drug user and prostitution in this area as well as urination. There was mixed opinion as to whether the installation of a recycling centre here would contribute to or reduce the incidence of ASB. It has the advantage of not being overlooked by any of the flats and being discrete/not contributing further to the current eyesore of rubbish at the rear of the building. It is also under cover and already lit.
6. Extend the area where the bins are currently housed
The difficulty with placing more bins adjacent to the current two bins is that they would potentially reduce the width of the access road at the rear of the block, making it too narrow for fire appliances.
There is an existing cut-out in the sloped area adjacent to the current bin location which
houses a manhole cover. The area to the right of this cut-out could be excavated,
walled at the back and tarmacked to make a new, level area which could easily house 4
bins without restricting access for emergency vehicles. The area should be disguised with a
decorative screen to hide the bins from sight. This has the advantage of being close to the
other waste receptacles (paladin bins, lumber store and food waste bin).
7. At the front of the building by the pram sheds
This would require the installation of a ramp leading from the pram shed path to the driveway area adjacent to Flat 6 so that the bins could be wheeled from the area opposite the pram sheds to the driveway/parking area bays 1-6, but should be a minimal expense. The rest of the area in already paved and level. There is sufficient space for 4 bins to be placed in the area, facing the pram sheds. This is another area which may be “too far” for residents are use, but it has the perceived advantage among some residents of removing a source of blight from the rear of the building and redistributing it more evenly among the three wings as the South/Maisonette currently does not overlook any of the waste facilities at Bevin Court.
It may be difficult for the recycling vehicles to access the area due to the circular driveway at the front of Bevin Court.
This document was originally produced 11 Feb 2016, when it was displayed in the lobby and on the notice board at Bevin Court. It was added to the blog 21 July 2016.
On 8 December 2015, Julia Barclay (Chair) and Tom Cordell (Vice Chair) from the Bevin Court Tenants’ & Residents’ Association met representatives of the team at London Borough of Islington who are in the early stages of planning an upgrade of the heating system at Bevin Court. The work is not yet fully commissioned and has yet to be procured. There will be formal notice served in the form of Section 20 Notice of Intent and then, following the evaluation of the returned tenders, there will then be a formal Section 20 Notice of Estimate. There will be a consultation period where we will meet with and answer enquiries from the lease-holders, as a portion of the costs of this project will be recharged to them. 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.
COSTS AND SCHEDULE
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.
Currently these proposals are at a very early stage, and now is the time to express opinions on the plan. You can talk to the TRA about your views about we collate theme and pass them along to the Islington Project Managers. There will we further consultation opportunities directly with Project Managers as the project gets nearer to being commissioned.
1. Update on completed activities
2. Update on on-going activities and progress to date
3. Bids for Estate Security and Estate Improvement budgets
4. 50% cuts to Islington Council budget from Central Government
5. Confirmation of officer roles and expected activities.
6. Bevin Court TRA email account
Item 1: Update on completed activities
JB confirmed that 2 issues that have been raised have now been resolved,
1. It has been agreed that Amwell House residents can use our bike shed. Emailed members and had 6 responses. 5/6 responses said don’t care, 1/6 said they should keep their bikes on their own premises.
2. Column lights in front of Bevin Court – not working since Feb when contractor fixing maisonette water supply cut wire. Then a second fault was discovered and so this was fixed ultimately in September. 6 month old problem was fixed within 6 weeks of TRA raising issue at Housing Panel meeting.
Item 2: Update on ongoing activities and progress to date
1. Staircase Lighting – The lights in the central staircase which were installed 2012-13 are not working. When JB escalated to Housing Panel in July 2015, 24% were out of order (19 out of 74 lights), with the worst affected being on the 4th floor.
As of Nov 2015, 92% are now working (68 out of 74). However, this is a temporary fix until the new components for the fixtures can be manufactured (gear trays) and means the lights are on full brightness at all times. After the gear trays are manufactured and installed, they lights should work as designed; that is on at low level and brightening as motion is detected.
2. The lobby foyer area – Repairing damage done by Breyer when they scaffolded the stairs for decoration. Council have hired a contractor to abrade and polish the floor. JB inspected with Barry Cunningham and Sinead Burke of Islington Council on 14 Dec 2015. All agreed that it looked better but the job is still not as it should be. Council plan another round of abrading & polishing to try to rectify problem.
3. Drains in West Wing – There have been endless floods and leaks for ground floor residents. JB raised this as Sep 2015 Housing Panel. In response, a CCTV survey carried out 14 Dec 2015 by Islington contractor UKDN, which said gullies (leading from waste down pipes to drain) are blocked with baby wipes, sanitary products, fat, food waste etc. Drains are clear but cracked. Recommendation is to jet wash the gullies, but the drain needs relining or replacing or it will collapse when jetted. They recommend replacement as its below modern size requirements.
4. Loggia/Portico behind flat 6 (ground floor South Wing) – Have had discussions with Jo Roberts (Estate Services Manager) re: remedying the ASB in this area (people drinking. Using drugs, sleeping rough, etc.). Current proposal is to install uneven, “deterrent paving” in the area to make it uncomfortable to sit/stand/lie on. JB has gotten agreement from Islington Conservation (Kristian Kaminski) and Heritage England (listed building consent) for the installation of “deterrent paving” in this area and Jo thinks she has funding for it. We are hoping to go ahead in Jan 2016, but need planning permission first.
5. TC recapped the meeting which he and JB held with Alan Price and Tony Parkin of Islington Council on 8 Dec 2015. See document “HEATING SYSTEMS RENEWAL AT BEVIN COURT” for information of that meeting.
JB: suggested that with the work that the heating renewal that the Council are planning to do, Bevin Court TRA should push for a legacy project. As the Council have agreed (tentatively) to provide a respite area for residents during the heating works, as we should push for this to be something we could keep and use as a community room. We should ask for a pre-fabricated building or similar either in the car park or at the end of the service access road by the West Wing which could be used for site offices/respite during contract and the handed over to community at the end of the project.
Item 3 – Future Activities
Estate Improvements (£100k) and Estate Security Budgets (£40k) – These will be up for grabs in the New Year. Responses from TRA questionnaire suggests residents would like CCTV. JA, TC, SG express opposition to CCTV. JB suggests it would be easy to fit in lifts as there is a space already there for the camera. Ongoing costs estimated a £1 per flat per week may be prohibitive.
It was agreed that getting additional lighting should be our main focus for Estate Improvements and/or Security Budgets. We would like lighting at the rear of the block by the car park and also along the path leading from Holford Street to the entrance of Holford Gardens/Holford Way
Discussion on best way to consult – does non-response indicate approval or apathy? Should we do a leafletting campaign? Host more meetings? Door knocking? General agreement that door knocking would likely have best response.
JB distributed a reminder to all members regarding their roles and requesting more support.
We need to schedule at least 4 general TRA meetings, including one 1 AGM per year to be held on our anniversary in June. It is the Secretary’s duty is to arrange these. JB will forward contact details for Charles Rowan House TRA and Margery Street Community Hall to JA. JA to liaise with contacts and TRA officers to schedule 4 general meetings
JB distributed the credentials for the TRA Gmail account in her update document and encouraged Officers to look at the mailbox. .
JB raised issue of Islington facing 50% reduction in council funding. TC pointed out that this is approximately 60% of total funding with 10% from Council Tax & 30% from parking charges
With little scope for spending, there is a possibility that residents could get paid for doing small jobs are normally done by contractors e.g. locking & unlocking the park. . 3
There was a discussion of possible Amwell Street for creation of QuietWay2 cycle system, which was drawn to TRA’s attention by Amwell Society. Discussed possibility of time based closure to traffic during rush hour. JA proposed that we opt for restricted access during ‘peak times’.
Discussion of officers making contacts on their landings (and elsewhere) and encouraging residents to attend TRA meetings and join in.
JB explained lift maintenance contract with Amalgamated Lifts and suggested we might be able to get a steam clean and new flooring for the lifts.
All agreed we should do something to commend our caretaker John Lynch for his excellent work as the Council are taking back his “Caretaker of the Year” award in order to pass it on to this year’s recipient.
(Names in brackets are in attendance but without voting rights as they from the same household as a voting attendee)
Antonio Dos Santos
Leaseholders marked with LH, Private tenants marked as PT, others are LBI tenants.
Meeting opens 1845.
VB: We are quorate and have more tenants than leaseholders.
JB: We’re hoping to keep this a brief meeting – the main point of today’s meeting is to get everything in order so that we can be recognised by LBI. 1. canvas members for names and addresses 2. review votes for positions. 3. agree name for TRA, 4. adopt LBI model constitution, 5. Any other business.
VB: First take votes for nominees.
Take votes for:
JB as chair. Unanimous
TC as vice chair. Unanimous
JO as secretary. Unanimous
Sally Grey. Unanimous
Other committee members:
Any objections to these 4? None
(See below Aynom Fesum elected later in the meeting to the committee)
VB: The requirement is for minimum 8 committee meetings a year, and one general meeting with elections either annually or biannually.
We now have a TRA at Bevin Court! BC is now entitled to apply for funding and representation with LBI.
Next we need to agree a name. Bevin Court Tenants and Residents Association. Agreed unanimously.
Raj: when filming takes place in the building will the TRA be consulted?
JM: Can we use the council’s email list to contact residents?
VB: No – TRAs are meant to be independent of the council and there also would be data protection issues.
JB: We will need to do door knocking to get wider support and interest for the TRA
VB: Perhaps you could organise a small event to build interest in the TRA? The council can offer support with this.
AF: From experience of last TRA we need to get people out and knocking on doors. Not happy with the location of this meeting as it’s too far away for lots of residents.
VB: We weren’t able to use the Peel Centre (closer location) and so this venue was chosen as the closest available location.
Late election: Aynom unanimously elected to the committee.
VB: Finally we need to adopt the draft constitution
JB: Copies of draft constitution were circulated to attendees today who were not at previous meeting. Also advised that it was available online. Summarised constitution and asked if there were any objections to it? Agreed provisionally
VB: if you having read the constitution have any objections, please let us know within 14 days.
JB: Any other business. As you may know I’ve been doing a lot of TRA type stuff behind the scenes. I’m going to write this up so that we all know what’s been going on. Give me a month or so to document all this. We can have a committee meeting in about a month’s time. I’ll give everyone 14 days notice. I really want this to be really representative and get more and more people involved. We’re going to do a door knocking campaign. Please talk to your neighbours, and get a feeling that we can achieve change. We now have an official voice with LBI.
VB: LBI has a tenants and residents panel meeting every two months so if people pass issues onto JB for representation here.
JB: One of the objectives of the door knocking is to explain what the TRA does, and what it doesn’t do.
Meeting 24/5/15 to discuss setting up a Tenants and Residents Association at Bevin Court.
Val Barnes LBI (London Borough of Islington)
1. Julia Barclay
2. Jackie Coote
3. Mick Page
4. Tim Spoor
5. David Heckling
6. Anita Poulter
7. Alan Fenelly
8. John Moyle
9. Sue Petts
10. Carol Horner
11. Tom Cordell
12. Justin Oh
13. Rajiv Shah
14. Josie Afolabi
15. Mark Rose
16. Sally Grey
Introduction from Val Barnes
TRAs exist to give residents a closer relationship with the council and for residents to effect change. Two-way process – the council uses residents as much as the residents use them. TRA gives them the word on the ground. TRAs are v Important to the council. There are in the region of 50 in the Old St Area Housing Office but they want more. Without TRAs it’s very difficult for the council to hear what residents want.
Every TRA has a committee:
Chair, Vice Chair (optional), Treasurer and Secretary
plus 4 or more committee members
VB says it shouldn’t take too much of your time
JB: we’re looking at a committee meeting every 6-8 weeks
Annual full meeting four times a year (quarterly) including AGM
Suggests name of “Bevin Court TRA”
RS: what’s the timescale?
VB: all residents must get sufficient notice of forthcoming meetings; ideally at least 2 weeks’ notice of meeting setting up TRA or voting in people to positions. If the numbers of people are adequate to be quorate then the council will recognise the TRA and it is up and running.
JM: how would LBI know that we have adequate members?
VB: by inviting them to the meeting which VB would attend.
VB: The chair is the spokesperson, the point of contact for LBI. Also represents the TRA at other meetings.
The vice chair shadows the chair.
The secretary (JB notes that this job can be split between 2 or more people). This is an admin role, the oil that keeps the TRA running. Minutes, inviting people to meetings, record keeping. JB notes that the person doing this job must keep impartial records without biasing them to their own point of view. VB reiterates this and says impartiality is important for all committee members.
The treasurer sets up bank accounts, is one of the three signatories on the bank account, things like filling grant applications, looking after expenses, keeping finances in order.
AF: interjects to say there the main problem for the estate is the lack of security and youth drinking. He also says that the listed building status of Bevin Court limits what can be done for security.
JB: says there is funding available for security improvements but not unless there is a TRA
VB: the TRA can address this –
1. Estate security budget – TRAs can bid for this money.
2. With a TRA we can come to the tenants and residents panel where the key figures in LBI and e.g. if the police are present, issues regarding security and safety can be.
JB: every listed building needs a Conservation Management Plan which sets out a standard & scope of works which can be undertaken without making individual Listed Buildings Consent applications. If we had a CMP in place then this could guide modifications to the building that would improve security.
AF said that money spent restoring the mural and planting flowers should be spent on security.
JB explained that these were funded externally.
JM: we need a neighbourhood watch group and to take more responsibility for security ourselves.
VB brings things back to original purpose of meeting – having a TRA will help address these problems and give access to the decision makers who may have the power to allocate resources to fix these problems.
Funding: Estate security funding (£40k) and environmental improvement funding (£100k) are available. These are annual figures for the whole of the Old St Housing Area). Once the TRA is recognised then start-up grants are available plus an admin and publicity grant of £200/pa, plus 50p/dwelling. There are also discretionary payments for things like equipment & fun days where we can apply on a case-by-case basis. If we had a community room then LBI would fund WIFI.
AP: can we apply for external match funding? VB will have to check this.
Training: There is training available for chairing meetings, financial management, negotiating skills. This is run by the Resident Engagement group.
There are also specific training courses – including DIY, Shop Cook and Eat, etc.
Next steps: Publicising the next meeting, inviting people to nominate for committee.
JB: Who wants to be on the committee? The following names volunteered:
JB reports that Sally in absentia has offered to be treasurer, and Mark Rose in absentia also offered to be on the committee
JM: How do we get people to come to the next meeting?
Speak to neighbours, make posters and leaflets that focus on main concerns – ASB, security and flooding repairs suggested
JM suggests that VB on behalf of LBI emails and/or writes by post to all residents to ask them to participate.
JB: this will give us an officially recognised, collective voice that will be heard.
JM: also that it will make us realise that we’re not alone in dealing with issues related to our homes.
JA: We have a great community here and we have to make it happen.
Nominations for roles:
Secretary: split between Justin Oh and Josie Afolabi
Treasurer: Sally Grey
Vice chair: Tom Cordell
Chair: Julia Barclay
Suggested next meeting on Wed 24th June 2015 at Peel Centre, 18:30 -20:00 (to be confirmed).
It was noted that tonight’s meeting took place during half-term, so some residents may not have been available due to family commitments. Need to ensure that future meetings are not scheduled during school breaks in order to maximise resident attendance.
Additional nominations can be made by email email@example.com or Valerie.Barnes@islington.gov.uk. Next newsletter to state this at least 2 weeks in advance of next meeting.
Minutes recorded by Tom Cordell, revised by Julia Barclay & Val Barnes.