People Power! Victory for Five Acres residents as Harlow Council call a halt on refurbishment plans
News / Wed 16th Nov 2022 at 01:15pm
FIVE Acres residents were celebrating a major victory after it was announced that Harlow Council has made the decision to stop major refurbishment works to flats at Five Acres.
The issue has been the subject of public questions at the council’s Cabinet and Full Council meetings over several months.(see films below).
Week in week out, leaseholders and residents attended at council and cabinet meetings.
They were initially shocked at the massive bills (£30,000 and beyond) they were set to receive for improvement works to their flats.
But they then ran a concerted campaign challenging the council on every aspect of the work and at its heart, the costs.
We will be speaking to residents in due course.
A Council spokesperson said: “Following several ongoing concerns raised by leaseholders it was clear that we needed to stop and listen and review the major works scheme for the Five Acres flat blocks. Last week we reviewed the scheme and we have made the decision to immediately stop the progress of the major works. We have written to all leaseholders and tenants to informed them of our decision.
“Whilst the surveys being carried out currently will conclude, no progression of this scheme will come forwards in this financial year. If any future decision is made to progress the major works scheme at all it will be following full consultation with tenants and leaseholders and no decision will be made until the next financial year (from 1 April 2023 onwards).
“The scaffolding and materials on site are being removed immediately. One block will continue to have scaffolding up while we address an urgent roof issue. As soon as this urgent issue is addressed, the scaffolding around this block will too be removed.
“We know that this has been a difficult time for the Five Acres flat block residents with the uncertainty and confusion which has been caused. We have apologised for the confusion, and we hope our decision puts residents’ mind at ease.
“We recognise the need to improve communication on major works schemes and to ensure better processes are in place for future schemes. We are going to review our entire process to major works and consultation.
“Residents have been assured that that will not be charged for any works carried out to date, including the survey works.”
The pitfalls of having a leasehold only are risk of huge "maintenance" bills. Good to see that the council finally listened to the people.
It has been a long hard battle, but with our little team of leaseholders we have at last succeeded. For us it was so obvious right from the start that there was something fundamentally wrong with the whole set up. The way the schedule of works was composed, this must have cost one hell of a lot of money as there was folders and folders of it, without even a proper survey carried out to identify what may need doing. To the total lack of competitive tenders, only 2 tenders were obtained for the 1.2 million pound works and there was less than £2000 difference between them. We have been continually fobbed off with stock answers to points and questions we have raised over the months, and even these were sometimes difficult to come by, At last with the aid of the likes Robert Hallfon MP, and a few honest and caring councillors we have now been listened too. There has been a lot of extremely stressed and worried leaseholders who can now relax and enjoy the forthcoming season of goodwill.
Well done Cliff Phillips and your fellow leaseholders and tenants. This news is an inspiration to leaseholders across the country in similar situations. The points you raise in your correspondence seem oh so familiar to the battle many of us in Stevenage are currently facing. Well done - power to the people. Enjoy and have a relaxing Christmas period.