Monday, 30 December 2013

THAMESMEAD TENANTS ALSO FIGHT EXORBITANT CHARGES


IS THIS ANOTHER HOUSING

ASSOCIATION IN THE BUSINESS 

OF “TRANSFORMING PEOPLE`S
LIVES”?

Rocketing housing association rents and hidden extra charges have  also sparked serious protests by tenants  in the London area where another housing association is facing opposition.
And the opposition is far more determined  than the opposition  in Carlisle against Riverside Housing Association`s rocketing  rents and   extra charges.
A group calling themselves Thamesmead Residents have set up their own web site to fight what they call exorbitant charges by Gallions Housing Association which is based at Sidcup (Kent ) and has 7000 houses in the boroughs of Bexley, Greenwich, Havering, Lewisham, Newham and  Tower Hamlets.

The Thamesmead Residents web site says this:

“We are a group of ordinary people living and working in Thamesmead fighting for what we believe to be right, seeking answers to our questions and protesting against the exorbitant  estate charges made by Gallions Housing  to us for services that are not maintained or poorly maintained.
We need helpers, supporters, organisers and committee members. Join us NOW - TELL YOUR NEIGHBOURS!”


The Thamesmead Residents protest (someof the protesters are pictured here)has attracted a lot of national and local publicity.  BBC Radio Five Live plans a special programme about the protest. The programme may also cover the Carlisle protests about Riverside rents and extra charges mentioned in previous posts of this blog.

Here is the link to the Thamesmead Residents web site:www.thamesmeadresidents.co.uk

Three hundred miles away,  the Carlisle protesters are continuing their fight. They have sent a letter to the Editor of the Cumberland News, Carlisle, following an article in that newspaper about hard times at Christmas for some people  in Botcherby Carlisle. Riverside boasts in that newspaper that it is “transforming lives”.

The letter says:

No surprise in your Christmas charitable headline:”Hardship on estate deepens amid low pay and rising debt”( Cumberland News December 20).
Your story highlights the plight of families on Botcherby estate in Carlisle who are becoming increasingly hard-pressed... one in five of them have incomes of less than £200 a week. They struggle to pay even food and energy bills, never mind Christmas.
So no surprise then about the charitable headline. But a great deal of surprise that one big increasing bill  facing the struggling families never got a mention in the  story underneath the headline.
That one big increasing bill is for rent. Rent bills have rocketed this year in Botcherby and on  the other Carlisle estates. The increase in rent bills is 30 per cent more in Carlisle than in a similar- size Cumbria town, Barrow, where, unlike Carlisle, social  houses continue to remain in council ownership, according to research by Carlisle Tenants` and Residents`` Federation.
In Carlisle the 6,500 social houses- former council houses- are owned by the giant Liverpool property organisation, Riverside Housing Association which recently reported a 41 per cent  annual surge in its reserves (profits) from £22 million to £32 million.
So Barrow council house rents are very much cheaper than the rents of Riverside`s former Carlisle council houses. And Barrow council house rents are even cheaper than that when Riverside`s “extras” are added to the comparison.
Riverside “extras” are the increases in the way Carlisle rents are  now charged... by introducing new “services” for tenants.
These “services” take the form of new cleaning charges. There are also new charges for door entry systems, for fire alarms, for emergency lighting, for electricity, and for what Riverside`s claims is its “high quality” administration.
These  new charges add about £10 (12 per cent)  to a typical Riverside  rent of £84 .
Carlisle Tenants and Residents` Federation has campaigned for many months against Riverside`s rocketing rents and these extra charges.
About these rents and charges and about the struggling Botcherby families, the Federation  has this comment:
“Riverside boasts every week  that it is transforming lives. For two years it has run an advertisement in the Cumberland News saying  that it is doing just that. The advertisement reads:
“ ` Riverside...transforming lives... revitalising neighbourhoods`
“Riverside`s rocketing rents and extra charges were certainly helping to transform the lives of the struggling people of Botcherby this Christmas.
“The transformation in Botcherby lives is also  highlighted in the headline(above) on another page  of the Cumberland News:`Hardship on estate deepens amid low pay and rising debt.`
“Was this the transformation that the Riverside advertisement is boasting about?”


Community Voice Carlisle is the blog of CarlisleTenants` and Residents` Federation.  Information about the Federation is contained in the first post of  this blog, dated March 25 2015