Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Scrutiny and the Mile End Estate Board Meeting (23.9.10.)

Did you know that the Mile End Estate Board will meet this week on on Thursday 23rd September 2010 at 7.00pm at the The Centre, Maha Building, Merchant Street, London? (see map to venue here)

This is the agenda
  1. Apologies for Absence
  2. Minutes of Last Meeting and Matters Arising
  3. Reports For Information/Feedback:
    • Estate Services Report
    • TSA Standards
    • Tenant and resident Involvement and Local Governance
    • Anti Social Behaviour Monitoring
    • Refuse Arrangements Review
    • Estate Services Weekend Working Arrangements
    1. Local KPI report
    2. Responsive Repairs Re-Tendering
    3. Estate Parking Enforcement
    4. New Television Reception System Installation & Repairs Contract
    5. Any Other Business
    6. Date of Next Meeting
    Note the total absence of anything whatsoever to do with:
    • conduct of the redevelopment contracts to date on Eric & Treby and the Bede Estates
    • progress with the kitchens and bathrooms contract.
    We'd love to know how EEH think they communicated the meeting to tenants and leaseholders according to good practice for tenant involvement.
      Tenant Involvement and Scrutiny - what's expected of social landlords

      The new regulatory framework which applies to all social housing providers requires that all landlords must have a strong practical approach to tenant involvement and empowerment

      See Social Housing Standard #1: Tenant involvement & empowerment

      A committed approach to involvement means ensuring tenants are provided with the information which enables them to scrutinise performance, ask well informed questions about how well a landlord is performing and generally hold a Board to account.

      EastendHomes are obliged to submit an annual report for tenants to the TSA by 1 October 2010 stating how they intend enable all Tenants to have the ability to monitor and scrutinise their landlords performance against all the standards set.

      One of the papers to be discussed the meeting on Thursday concerns Tenant and resident Involvement and Local Governance.  
      To provide the Board with a further review of tenant involvement and engagement and to provide options for consideration in the context of:
      • TSA National Standard for tenant involvement and engagement.
      • Value for Money (VfM) and impact assessments.
      • Feedback from the Residents Conference.
      • Local governance and board appointments.
      • Re-assessment of the usefulness of formal involvement structures in engaging the wider tenant voice.
      Tenant and resident involvement and loval governance
      The report identifies that:
      • time and effort employed in tenant involvement is NOT proportionate to stock levels
      • the allocation of resources does NOT reflect the level of regeneration activity on an estate 
      • resources allocated to Mile End are disproportionately low - and the existence of local groups independent of EEH (eg MERA) which give residents a voice is recognised.
      The Table shows that resources are disproportionately allocated across the organisation and that the significantly increased spend at St. Georges and Glamis is due to the number of meetings being supported compared to other areas.  Additionally, it should be recognised that while costs for Mile End are low, the emergence of additional Tenants and Residents associations within the area indicate that certain groups feel that they need an independent voice outside of our local governance framework
      EastendHomes CEO report - Tenant and resident involvement and loval governance
      It also indicates that Mile End Estate Board meets 8 times a year which is a very long way from the reality as experienced by tenants.

      One of the important ways that communication with tenants is discharged is via Estate Board meetings. 

      Clearly information about where and when the Board meets and what is going to be discussed needs to be available to all tenants and is critical to their attendance and involvement.
      Registered providers shall provide tenants with accessible, relevant and timely information about
      • the standards of housing services their tenants can expect
      • how they are performing against those standards
      Social Housing Standard #1: Tenant involvement & empowerment
      • there was no formal notice of the meeting anywhere on Estate until the MERA Chair asked the Chair of the Mile End Estate Board where the notices were advertising the meeting.  
      One went up yesterday - but this provides far too little notice.  It also does not make the paperwork accessible.   (For info:  The standard requirement for local government is for all agendas and papers to be made available at least five working days before the meeting of any formal committee or board.  All Council Committee papers are available online to download at least 5 days before a meeting)

      On the EastendHomes website page
      Not all parts of the Estate have notice boards and not all of these are kept up to date with notices of Board meetings. 
        Which is really rather surprising given that the Chair of Mile End Estate Board and Vice Chair of EastendHomes is Bernie Cameron aka TPAS Tenant of the Year

        Communication with tenants  - making your voice count

        Communication has been a perennial complaint of residents on the Eric & Treby Estate  particularly in relation to the development of the changes to the Eric & Treby Estate.

        In addition, current EastendHomes proposals for feedback about the redevelopment and resolution of problems are completely inadequate given the timescales required for action to be taken.

        Maybe EastendHomes could review “Making Voices Count” (PDF) from HouseMark published by the TSA.

        This reviews practice in tenant involvement and empowerment and emphasises the need to change old methods of resident involvement.  For example.....

        Acting on tenants’ views
        There is an increasing recognition that while obtaining tenants’ views is important, it is crucial that there are mechanisms in place to ensure that providers act on those views.
        There are two clear trends, with providers seeking to develop:
        •    a good set of standards for the delivery of key landlord services for all tenants, and having ways in which tenants can effectively influence and monitor those standards
        •    mechanisms for dealing with wider issues that arise in particular localities, many of which relate to matters beyond service standards alone

        Most providers either have or are moving towards having some scrutiny mechanism tied into the organisational structure. For the majority this involves some form of scrutiny panel.

        For the record the Mile End Estate Board has declined to recognise MERA.  

        In doing so it has chosen to:
        • IGNORE local residents who support MERA and the voice it gives them in raising issues which matter to them
        • IGNORE the fact that MERA is a properly constituted organisation with an elected committee and very many members who are tenants and leaseholders of EastendHomes 
        • IGNORE the MERA members who are non-EEH local residents affected by the activities of EastendHomes regeneration activities!
        So much for tenant involvement!

        Irrespective of whether or not EastendHomes creates a Scrutiny Panel, MERA will continue to :
        • remain alert to issues which matter to local residents living in Mile End
        • scrutinise the behaviour and performance of all those responsible for delivering public services in Mile End and 
        • campaign against anything which has an adverse impact on the look and amenity of the place where we all live.

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