Tuesday, 23 June 2015



MP`s may
Things are looking stormy for Riverside`s nodding donkeys with a weather warning from Westminster.

The weather warning comes from Clive Betts MP (right) the chairman of an influential group of MPs who wants  to  to know more about the profits made by housing associations, including Riverside Housing Association.

Riverside and the other associations call these profits surpluses. 

These surpluses have started to rocket, just like the fat cat salaries paid to housing association bosses. And just like the rocketing charges that Riverside  imposes on its 6,000 Carlisle tenants and 240 leaseholders.

 Rocketing profits, rocketing salaries and rocketing charges  go on and on. No one calls a halt because no one has the power to call a halt, particularly when Riverside  and similar housing associations have their own built-in  protection from  difficult questions.This protection is  provided by their own tenants and officials.

These tenants and officials serve on so-called  tenant scrutiny panels which scrutinise nothing, but give the nod to everything, These nodding yes-men are  Riverside`s nodding donkeys.

Clive Betts who was  last week re-appointed as chairman of the Commons Communities and Local Government (CLG) committee, told the influential social housing publication, Inside Housing he would like his committee to explore why surpluses are not ‘being used as much as some people might like to see’

The CLG committee, which has not yet been appointed, would need to approve Mr Betts’ plans. But if Mr Betts gets his way, housing association chief executives would be invited before parliament to answer questions about surpluses.

Questions about  these surpluses are nothing new.  Community groups have been asking them for years just as they have been asking about rocketing profits,  rocketing salaries and rocketing charges. Not to mention, questions about the nodding donkeys.

Mr Dean Butterworth,  Riverside`s Carlisle regional director was asked by Carlisle councillors about his nodding donkeys ( the members of Riverside`s Tenant Scrutiny Panel.)

Mr Butterworth insisted that his donkeys are not nodding. Members of the panel are independent, he declared.

Mr Butterworth was also asked by the councillors about  an organisation he commissioned to  help solve the crisis at Longtown where his tenants cannot afford to heat their homes because of Riverside`s grossly expensive dodgy boilers.

Mr Butterworth to everyone`s surprise failed to recall the name of the organisation. And the Longtown report of the organisation - the old-established Building Research Group - to no one`s surprise failed to help the freezing tenants.

But the questions persist... hopefully, soon from Mr Betts in the House of Commons and from the freezing tenants of Longtown through their community group, Longtown Action for Heat and the associated group, Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation.

Questions at this month`s meeting of the Federation covered a wide range. Here are four  of them:

What has happened to the promises of  free electricity for Longtown tenants after solar  panels were installed?

 Why are  so many criminal types from ouside the area  now being given tenancies in Longtown?

Why  does Riverside`s executive staff change so frequently that it is impossible to  have proper continuity  of relations with tenants? 

And why has much of Riverside`s  much - criticised Carlisle administration been  made much more remote through its transfer  to Riverside`s head office at Liverpool 100 miles away?

Riverside`s  nodding donkeys will not be allowed to block questions in parliament from  Mr Betts. 

But  the nodding donkeys will  be  able to  block these questions from Riverside tenants.

Why should that be? 

Community Voice Carlisle is the blog of Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation. Information  about the Federtion is available on 01228 522277 or 01228 532803. 

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