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.

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