all the right
No surprise that the new Riverside Housing Association boss Sarah Paton is making all the right noises in talks with Carlisle city councillors- a few months ago soon after moving in she was praised by councillors for bringing a breath of fresh air to the city.
Whether fresh air and right noises mean that things are going to be okay with the councillors remains to be seen. Some people say they have seen it all before.
The councillors have set up a workshop among themselves to decide what steps to take to get what they want from Ms Paton who in Riverside` north regional director and the new boss of Riverside`s 6,000 homes in the city.
What the councillors want from Ms Paton is a say in Riverside policy making, more effective dealing with tenants`complaints and more open and transparent working with tenants.
These changes have been needed for many years says the campaigning group Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation. It hopes to press councillors for these and other changes within the next few weeks.
Meanwhile the Federation has come under surprise attack .. a bit like one of Donald Trump`sTomahawk missile strikes at Syria`s Assad regime.
The missile was an email from Sylvia Wilson who runs the very commendable organisation, Homes Under Threat. Sylvia does not approve of our tactics in the fight against Riverside.
The email urged the Federtion to get a bit more understanding of how housing associations work. She suggested that we should “get our teeth into” some housing associaition annual reports.
The Federation reply to this was:
Riverside has waged war on us for many years. It is still hostile. Until that situation changes we will continue to attack Riverside
Sylvia`s missile in reply was:
Oh, I am well aware of your attitude to Riverside and particularly their staff without meeting or contacting them. Is it any wonder Riverside is as hostile as you are!
Slagging folk off or the company they work for doesn’t get anyone anywhere, as you (and the unfortunate tenants still waiting for their boilers to be fixed) have found out to your cost…!
You will never regain any ground by continued unfounded attacks against Riverside, that is ‘IF’ you want a rapport with Riverside to discuss tenants grievances - as I’ve told you before, using “honey rather than vinegar” will get you further…!
Quite honestly in my opinion, the situation has gone too far and will never change or work now because of the way you have dealt with them… the Federation by its own actions is useless to Riverside`s tenants, which is why you can’t get anywhere with Riverside…!
I cannot help you anymore , you won’t listen to me or take my advice, and I’ve been at this for twenty years+ and honestly all my advice has fallen on deaf ears, your tenants are still not getting help or anything done, which I feel sad about…!
There was a subsequent missile.
In this missile she says this:
There are ways of dealing with landlords, which doesn’t include being demanding, rude or overly offensive…!
I feel badly for the residents who have lost their chance with the landlord to get their boilers fixed over this…
The residents need to read their tenancy agreement and complaints procedures… If the tenants still want their boilers fixing, they will have to now sort it out for themselves, using their own groups of Longtown Action for Heat, or Cumbria Riverside Action Group, using their own groups letterheads and following the correct channels… and removing themselves from the Federation to do it…!
They must start again in order to get Riverside to do their job - Riverside must be given the letters, (copied for future use/reference) of housing defects the tenants themselves have individually written down and signed and getting their groups` respective secretaries to hand them over, with an accompanying letter outlining the tenancy agreement where pertinent, in bulk to Riverside, asking them to fix the problems as soon as possible…
They need a paper-trail if they are to use the complaints procedure - after the third bout of the same copied letters being delivered/sent if there has been no response, or if they have been ignored or denied, then it should be followed through with the ombudsman…!
All straight forward and simple steps, which should have been followed through at the beginning…!
The Federation has great respect for Sylvia and the work she does.But in these emails she is simply again covering old ground. The steps she suggests to remedy the problems of Riverside in Carlisle have all been taken many times previously over the years by the Federation and others.
Sylvia fails to understand that Riverside are a law to themselves and when faced with complaints from tenants and others revert to threats, gobbledegook and obfuscation.
One friend of the Federation makes other points in reply to Sylvia`s emails.
He says this:
Riverside and other housing associations have moved far away from their initial remits.
I suspect that Sylvia doesn't understand this and the reasons behind the deterioration in society caused by mis management often by housing association staff locally which we experience and others perceive even when they don't fully understand why.
Housing association annual reports are completely irrelevant ...many years out of date mostly and accounts are audited with no regard to actual effects of those associations(in effect businesses) on our communities’
Damage caused by the incompetence of housing associations is often permanent and those living in certain areas (dumping grounds for social misfits) have their lives destroyed as a result.
Why is this ? Just because a tenant can't afford to move away or better themselves through disability/age etc it should never endanger them, but it usually does.
Ultra liberal social policies over decades have favoured criminals and their ilk to the detriment of decent law abiding people and it's way past time this was changed.
Why should scumbags get chance after chance?
We have had drug dealers repeatedly re-housed by housing associations which keeps the worst areas down permanently.
Until regeneration includes regenerating criminality out of neighbourhoods we will continue to suffer from anti social behaviour and drugs
According to Sylvia's advice we must play by the rules.
By playing by ther rules housing associations and councils always hold the trump cards....they design the rules to suit themselves
Liberal minded people who play by the rules achieve next to nothing most of the time and often waste as much as 20 years of their lives banging their heads against the brick walls.
Never give up......and always remember the rules are theirs and don't need to be ours.They are loaded against tenants from the outset.
Keep up the good fight irrespective of where you find problems exist and who is mainly responsible.....otherwise nothing will ever improve your communities.
Think outside the box and do whatever it takes.
Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation publishes this blog. Information about the Federation is available on 01228 522277 or 01228 532803.