Wednesday, 17 January 2018

BRUTAL TRUTH OF A VERY COSY MERGER



Guilty
secret            of two big
housing providers


Image result for guiltysecret pictureAll very mysterious…The newspaper headline says simply:”Homes Providers Plan Merger Deal.” Turn to a magazine and there is a  completely different headline on the same story.That headline reads:”Non-compliant Impact Selects Riverside as Partner.”

Newspaper or  magazine?…you take your choice.But why the completely different headlines over the same story?.

If you read the story under the headline in the newspaper- the Carlisle daily publication News and Star- you will read of a cosy get-together of two Cumbria housing associations. “Impact Housing` Delighted` Over Talks With Riverside Housing” says another headline over the story.

The cosy theme continues as  the story tells of the merger of two  associations as “improving long-term prospects for their homes,tenants and staff”.

But if you read the magazine-  the weekly national publication Inside Housing - you will read something that is far from cosy.

It is  a brutal story and is harshly critical of Impact which it says “was downgraded to non-compliant by the social housing regulator in May last year for both its governance and its financial viability.”

Impact governing board.Mark Costello is centre front
Remarkably, there is no mention of this downgrading in the cosy News and Star report. Instead the report quotes Mark Costello, Impact`s chairman who speaks of “challenges that have led to us seeking a partner.”

And what were those `challenges`? Mark Costello does not give details.But the brutal Inside Housing report has no problem in spelling them out.

Thatreport says that the social housing regulator`s  judgement was issued following an in-depth assessment of Impact. This said there was not sufficient `headroom` in Impact`s business plan should things go wrong. The regulator had lacked assurances that the board of Impact was managing its affairs with “an appropriate degree of skill, diligence, effectiveness, prudence and foresight”.

So much for Mark Costello`s “challenges? What else does Impact have to say?

A spokesman praised Riverside saying “it has a sound framework for listening and delivering services locally.”

What about Riverside? What does it have to say in the cosy News and Star  report?

Max Steinberg
Max Steinberg..."excited"

Max Steinberg , the chairman says he is “very excited” at the prospect of working with Impact. He went on:”We believe our bid set out a very realistic and deliverable set of plans”.

Mr Steinberg may be excited but his 50, 000 tenants and leaseholders are not likely to share his joy. Nor will   Impact`s 2,700 tenants and leaseholders because it appears that none of these people are being consulted on the merger.

The general public in the Carlisle and Allerdale areas of Cumbria are not likely to be excited either.  More likely they are likely to be mystified about why there should be two published versions of the merger.

Campaigners against Riverside are far from excited. The leading campaigner, Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation which publishes this blog says   that Impact`s 2,700 tenants and leaseholders now have to face up to a miserable future dictated by Riverside bossiness and gross inefficiency.

A Federation spokesman said:"Impact tenants and leaseholders are being misled into thinking things will be better with Riverside.Our experience tells us that they will not be better.

"As far as the guilty secret beween Impact and Riverside is concerned, the public is entitled to learn  from the News and Star why it published cosiness instead of the brutal truth.

"For the moment, we can only guess the reason"

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

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

COUNCILLOR WHO `FORGOT` HER ROOTS


`Poacher  who 
turned
gamekeeper`

The late Olwyn Luckley who is to be buried this week was an inspiration to many in the Carlisle community. Sadly, there are those who take a very different view.

Mrs Luckley was an active worker for many voluntary organisations in the city and a leading Lib Dem member of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition that formerly controlled the city council.

But it was her support for the shambolic Riverside Housing Association of Liverpool that led to her being much criticised

That criticism came from  members of Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation who had previously actively supported her as she pushed for nomination for a seat on the  council.

For several years Mrs Luckley attended  meetings of Federation members and appeared to give support  to the Federation campaigns against the continued Riverside bossiness and incompetence in running the the city`s 6,000 former council houses

But once Mrs Luckley was a member of the city council, it was not long before she appeared to forget the Federation`s support and became member of the Riverside`s  Carlisle governing board.

Not that that appointment in reality meant anything.  That board never achieved anything and was as incompetent as Riverside itself.

But what angered the Federation members was Mrs Luckley`s  leading role on the council`s Overview and Scrutiny Panel.

She was chairman  of that panel. In that role she has had the job of answering oral questions put to the panel by the Federation. These questions were framed in order to hold  Riverside to account.

Mrs Luckley had  no difficulty in holding down her membership of the Riverside board while responding to the Federation questions by kicking them in the long grass.

Annoyingly for the Federation there was  kicking further into the long grass. This came from the council`s Deputy Chief Executive.He  accused the Federation of using the panel as a platform for propaganda.

A Federation  spokesman had this to say today:”No one would deny that Ms. Luckley was in inspirational worker for many voluntary organisations.

“She was backed in much of this work by the Federation which also gave her great support  in her efforts to become a councillor. Sadly, she soon appeared to forget that support and then as a councillor went on to oppose the Federation`s campaign to hold Riverside to account.

“In our view, Mrs Luckley for all her good works was  also something else. She was a classic case of a poacher turned gamekeeper.”


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

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

TRANSFORMING LIVES AND TRANSFORMING SLOGANS



The Alice in Wonderland world of Riverside
Housing



Illustration of White Rabbit Illustration It`s a slogan that Theresa May might have found useful when she took over at Number Ten and on the step outside famously spoke about promising to help those who were “just about managing.”


The slogan is “transforming lives, revitalising neighbourhoods.” The slogan is used extensively by Liverpool-based Riverside Housing Association to describe its work of running a massive estate of 50,000 homes.


Critics frequently remind Mrs Mayof her words
and point accusing fingers when they think she is failing on her promise.



Riverside Housing  Association critics  do just the opposite. They have no need for accusing fingers. Instead, they tell Riverside:”You are doing what you say. You are transforming lives and you are revitalising neighbourhoods.


Then the critics add this damning qualification:“But the transforming and revitalisation are just the opposite of what you intended.”


An appalling example of this Alice in Wonderland world of Riverside is in the town of Longtown near Carlisle where a solar panel deal for tenants has turned into a disaster. It is all because of the  bungling and incompetence of Riverside

In that disaster, an estimated 60 tenants had promises of cheaper electricity. Instead, these 60 unfortunate people had bills of up to £4,000.

These people need no  prompting to say their lives have been transformed- transformed for the worse.

As for revitalising neighbourhoods, Riverside`s recent  moves to try to turn things round in Longtown are proof that the neighbourhood has been changed- again for the worse.

Riverside  cannot escape the fact that these social houses have been so blighted by its own bungling (they still have the dodgy heating systems) that any  prospective tenants  don`t want to know.

Riverside not surprisingly got no return on its investment. Far from it. Riverside has lost many thousands of pounds. More than half the 50 Riverside flats in the town are now empty and tenants estimate that Riverside is losing over £100,000 a year in lost rent.

It is no surprise that Riverside is fighting back. It recently circulated a flyer(below) in the town inviting people to what it called "resident`s meetings".(Riverside needs to learn where to put the apostrophe!)

The flyer glossed over the problems. The flats were referred to as apartments.
It went on:”We want to hear from residents, ideas about what can be done to make these apartments more attractive to local people…some incentives may be available.”

The flyer urged people to recommend a friend as prospective tenant. It said:
“If you recommend a friend who becomes a tenant and you`re a Riverside customer, we`ll give you a week`s free rent.

“Do come along to the residents` meeting and open day and meet the team”.

Not surprisingly, the flyer had little or no effect.
No one turned up to the meeting and no-one was at the open day.

One tenant said: "Riverside have really shot themselves in the foot. What has now happened is what we forecast would happen. Riverside now have such a bad reputation in Longtown that local people just don`t want to know.

"As for Riverside tranforming lives and revitalising neighbourhoods, that is rubbish."

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