Saturday, 13 August 2016


The funeral takes  place next Tuesday (16th) of  community hero Billy Lyon who died last week.

His family kindly  supplied  this picture  taken at a family wedding.

The funeral service is at Carlisle Crematatorium at 12-20 pm.

Billy was a leading community worker and played a major part in getting support for suffering Riverside Housing Association tenants and leaseholders.

When everything else failed, Billy   turned to the Bishop of Carlisle  for help.

Help came from the bishop and Billy went on form a successful church-helped action group against Riverside,Carlisle`s biggest landlord.

Billy was a leaseholder in a flat owned by Riverside Housing Associaition which owns more than 6,000 homes, all former city council houses.

Billy tried repeatedly for many months to get repairs done to his flat in Sunnymeade, Upperby, Carlisle. He then discovered there were many other desperate people in the city who had similar problems with Riverside. And no-one could help them-neither councillors nor MPs.

Those community groups which tenants and leaseholders turned to for help when the city owned the houses had all been abolished by Riverside.

In desperation, Billy turned to the Church of England and contacted the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt. Rev. James Newcome. The bishop could give no direct help but put Billy in touch with the Carlisle Cathedral authorities.

Working with those authorities, Billy invited complaining tenants and leaseholders to a meeting in the cathedral close and an action group, Cumbria Riverside Action Group(CRAG)  was formed two years ago. It is chaired by Canon Michael Manley,  the Cathedral Missioner and Carlisle Rural Dean.

A city councillor and a county councillor  joined  the group and political parties sent representatives. Representations were made from the group to the city council and then on to Riverside. And  the Liverpool-based  association started to take notice.

Billy was a strong supporter of Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation, a community group. He helped the Federation at  meetings  of Longtown Action for Heat which was formed  by 60 angry tenants of Riverside who for four winters were unable to afford to heat their homes.

Billy also did pioneering work in contacting lawyers in other parts of the county, hoping to get   help to bring legal action against Riverside.

A spokesman for the Federation said today:” Billy  was a true community hero and  also a pioneer in  efforts to support his fellow leaseholders and tenants.

“Billy realised that Riverside  was untouchable and  accountable to no one.So no one could help him.Undetered, Billy  attempted to get legal action started against them. But without  a lot of money he could do very little. So he turned to the church who gave him what help they could. He was very grateful for this help.

“Fortunately, the group that he helped to form, Cumbria Riverside Action Group has had some success. At last,  and  after the 14 years since Riverside took over the city council houses the message is starting get through to them.It was a real breakthrough, all thanks to Billy”

Billy was 68, and a retired factory worker. He had been suffering from cancer for some time.

Issued by Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation

Friday, 5 August 2016


Brave Billy
his final fight

Tributes are being paid tonight to Billy Lyon who died at 2 am today at his flat in Sunnymeade, Upperby, Carlisle. He lived alone and had suffered from cancer for some time. He was due to go into a hospice later today.

Many of the tributes praised  Billy`s fight against the bullying Riverside Housing Association. His daughter Belinda said tonight:”Dad was prepared to stand up to Riverside when others would go along with what Riverside told them.”

Sadly, Billy blamed Riverside for causing his illness.

Belinda was with Billy when he died. His two sons and two other daughters had visited him yesterday. Belinda is handling funeral arrangements.

Billy worked in the building industry until latterly when he did factory work. He was 68 and retired three years ago.

Billy was a Riverside leaseholder and a staunch supporter of Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation, a community group which  has fought for justice for tenants and leaseholders since that inefficient and dictatorial Liverpool property development organisation took over Carlisle`s 6,000 council houses  14 years ago.

Before his illness Billy had never missed a Federation meeting and regularly travelled to Longtown to support meetings of Longtown Action for Heat- the protest group  of  60 angry Riverside tenants who were unable to afford to heat their  faulty homes.

Jimmy Robb, Chairman of Longtown Action for Heat said tonight: “Billy was a  loyal friend of the Longtown tenants. He was the salt of the earth.”

More tributes are expected at the Federation meeting  later this month and at a meeting next month of Cumbria Riverside Action Group (CRAG) in Carlisle Cathedral Close.

CRAG owes its existence to Billy`s persistence and pioneering work in fighting Riverside`s abuses.

When everything else failed  in protests against Riverside, he sought the help from the Bishop of Carlisle (Rt Rev. James Newcome) and those groups  fighting Riverside were brought together for the first time as CRAG, under the chairmanship of Canon Michael Manley, the Cathedral Missioner and Rural Dean.

Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation publishes this blog. Information about the Federation is available on 01228 522277 or 01228 532803.

Saturday, 23 July 2016


Pioneer Billy

pays a

very heavy


Sad to report that Billy Lyon is not well. Billy pioneered much of the fight against the appalling neglect and failures of  Riverside Housing Association over the years and sadly he is suffering because of it.

He is fighting against a serious illness in his Riverside flat in Sunnymead,  Carlisle where he lives alone.

Billy ,68, a retired factory worker is a Riverside leaseholder and like many of Riverside`s other Carlisle leaseholders had constantly to put up with botched repairs and other neglect by the Liverpoo-based property development organisation.

He complained repeatedly but nothing happened. Councillors, MP`s and community groups  were all approached. But no one could help.


Riverside was a law to itself: it was untouchable.

And there were other people suffering too among the 6,000 Riverside leaseholders and tenants  in the Carlisle area.

So out of desperation Billy wrote  to his local bishop, the Bishop of Carlisle (Rt. Rev. James Newcome) asking for help for all the victims  of Riverside`s neglect. Sadly, the bishop had no power to give direct help.But he put Billy in touch with Carlisle Cathedral where  a meeting  was organised by one of the clergy, Canon Michael Manley(above) at his home in the  cathedral close.

Canon Manley is the cathedral missioner and Carlisle Rural Dean.

That meeting attracted more than 20 leaseholders, tenants and others, all of them victims of the ramshackle inefficient Riverside organisation. Representatives attended  on behalf of the sixty  Riverside ice box tenants at Longtown  who for four winters have been unable to afford to properly heat their homes.

Those at that meeting formed themselves into an organisation to fight Riverside. It is called Cumbria Riverside Action Group (CRAG) which has its next meeting  in September, two years after it was formed.

Billy`s initiative  and meetings of the action group sparked off a much greater awareness of Riverside`failures and neglect. Carlisle City Council started to ask questions. And the extent of the scandal started to emerge.

Sadly, the pressure caused by fighting Riverside – not to mention  additional  pressure of a  botched court action brought against him by Riverside- took its toll on Billy`s health.

He now says: “People can only take so much pressure.After that, the strain begins to tell. I blame Riverside for causing my illness”

Today, Riverside is still a law to itself.

But thanks to Billy, Riverside is less untouchable.

Much less untouchable.

Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation publishes this blog. Information about the Federation is available on 01228 522277 or 01228 532803.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Community Voice Carlisle: POST-BREXIT AND THE NEW ELITE

Community Voice Carlisle: POST-BREXIT AND THE NEW ELITE: Buoyant UKIP targets housing fat cats DOUGLAS CARSWELL MP The exit from Europe gathers pace and in these fast c...


Buoyant UKIP
fat cats

Image result for douglas carswell picture

The exit from Europe gathers pace and in these fast changing times, even  housing associations are being involved . Their tenants are now wondering how long their fat cat bosses will continue  to purr.

The  spotlight moved to these tenants as the politicians debate-and plot- ways to to move forward amid the  debris left by last week`s  historic referendum.One of the most active in this debate is leading UKIP  politician Douglas Carswell M.P.

Mr Carswell is elated at UKIP`s success and its increasing influence in a post-Brexit Britain. UKIP is striving to to widen its appeal to voters and as part of that process, Mr Carswell  recalled some of the scandals his party has attacked. Among these is the scandal of the fat cat bosses of housing associations... their grossly excessive salaries.

A UKIP report he prepared a few weeks ago reveals that the chief executives of the 20 biggest associations took home an average pay of £264,000 in 2014-2015 – up 5 per cent on the year.The report branded  housing association as a cartel with a stunning lack of accountability

It demanded a Government investigation into the taxpayer funding of the sector. It claimed that housing chief executives have become the new elite, enriching themselves at the public expense off the backs of the poor.

Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation has attacked the fat cat pay scandal for many years. Its  attacks have been directed mainly against  one  of those leading housing associations, the Liverpool based Riverside. It owns 50,000  homes nationwide and with 6,000 homes in Carlisle is the city`s biggest landlord.

Up to fairly recently, the Chief  Executive was paid £230,000 year which is about 50 per cent more than the Prime Minister. But massive public criticism- including attacks from Community Voice Carlisle- has  forced a cut-back.

The present chief executive, Ms Carol Matthews  is paid 

Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation publishes this blog. Information about the Federation is available on 01228 522277 or 01228 532803.


Monday, 23 May 2016


The smile from  
M.P. Helen
says it all...

Back at her happy childhood home leaning on the garden gate....Helen Grant M.P. poses with a smile 
She is pictured on a recent visit  to a Carlisle council estate. 
But back  at Helen`s current home 300 miles away from Carlisle, there are no smiles.Things there are not happy.
Helen has spoken in the past of her happy childhood nearly fifty years ago living with her head teacher mother in Orton Road on Carlisle`s Raffles estate. Her mother was a tenant of Carlisle City Council. 
Today the tenants of Raffles estate have a new landlord, the Merseyside-based Riverside Housing Association which many people in Carlisle say is a bad landlord.
At Helen`s cuirrent home in Maidstone (Kent) Riverside is also a landlord and like Carlisle, things are not happy.Twenty six angry Maidstone tenants say that Riverside is not only a bad landlord, Riverside is the worst landlord in Britain.
The 26 angry tenants have serious issues with Riverside. So they came together and called themselves Tenants Against Riverside, which is now known as Social Tenants and Residents Community (STARC).
The 26 now want help to fight Riverside and have written to  Helen who is Conservative M.P. for Maidstone and The Weald.
The angry tenants` letter is printed below.
Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation which publishes this blog is supporting the 26 angry tenants and wishes them well with their letter. But  the good wishes include a warning for the 26.
The warning is this:Do not expect too much.

Helen is a former government minister and does  fight all the way for her constituents. But Riverside is a slippery customer and as the Federation has found over many years is  accountable to no one but itself.
During those slippery years, the Federation has contacted  more than one M.P. for help against Riverside.Sadly, the Federation has been disappointed with M.P.`s
So good luck, STARC with your M.P.
And good luck, Helen.
It was good to see you back in Carlisle again.
Here is the letter:

" I write as Secretary of STARC a constituted social tenants group for 26 of your constituents at Pudding Lane Maidstone requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the following:

"We have been issued with no fault eviction notices by Riverside Housing Association, the same Riverside Housing Association who now manage your childhood home on the Raffles council estate in Carlisle and the same Riverside your colleagues have chosen to pilot the right to buy policy for housing association tenants as part of the Housing and Planning Bill shortly to receive the royal assent.

"Many of us have lived here over 6 years and we face no prospect of ever again living in social housing in the area. We can never meet the 10 year social tenure criteria and take up the right to buy that your party seeks for aspiring and hardworking tenants.

"No social landlord will accept us even if a social property becomes available locally as we could take up the right to buy option in just over three years and so we maintain strongly that no social landlord would allocate any of us a social housing property for this reason.

"We currently pay a rent that is over 25% more than a Riverside tenant pays in Islington or Kensington & Chelsea in central London yet once we are evicted Riverside will increase the rent level here by a further 21% and that is why we maintain Riverside wants to evict all current tenants.

"Many of us are working in essential services such as the NHS and other public services. We are not the stereotypical “Benefit Street” social tenants but precisely the aspiring and hardworking social tenants your party’s policy seeks to attract with the right to buy and a range of other home ownership products you have released.

"Yet the reality we as your constituents face is very different. Riverside also refuses to conduct repairs and have longstanding tenants fearful of asking for repairs in case they are issued with no fault Section 21 eviction notices.

"Seven of your 26 constituents have been issued with Section 21 eviction notices as Riverside maintains the tenure here is an assured shorthold tenancy and these notices expire in May 2016. 

"Riverside initially said these 7 tenants had to be evicted in order to carry out roof repairs and ordinarily a social landlord decants social tenants and moves them back in after repair works are completed.

"This past week Riverside has started some of the roof repairs and with the tenants in situ and so they have misled tenants and are practising housing management by fear and deceit and all by their own hand as all the above has full documentary proof to confirm.

"You will recall late last year that a window simply fell out onto Maidstone High Street narrowly missing members of the public which made the ITV News (and another fell out 2 years prior) . That is our building and our homes and there is much more and much worse disrepair in this building than the communal windows being unsafe.

"We seek a meeting at your earliest convenience and given the above detail as to how this interacts with the government’s prime housing policies we have also copied this in to the housing minister Brandon Lewis and to the Secretary of State at  the Communities and Local Government. Greg Clark.

"STARC – Social Tenants And Residents Community"

Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation publishes this blog. Information about the Federation is available on 01228 522277 or 01228 532803.