Tower Hamlets Watch

Beyond Stock Transfer – The report Poplar Harca Tried to Ban

March 11, 2013
1 Comment

I have been given a report recently as evidence that supports the allegations that show the corrupt practices of Poplar Harca and its treatment of the Lansbury West TMO. The Lansbury West TMO which ran the management of the Lansbury West Estate in poplar when stock transfer occurred under a controversial ballot, started to suspect for a number of years that they had been underfunded by Harca.

When the TMO initially started the ball rolling, Poplar Harca immediately accused them of mismanaging funds to the tune of £150,000. Arguments ensued and with the agreements of both parties a full independent investigation was agreed and called for. Poplar Harca paid for half the funds for a forensic auditor to be brought in, the other half being paid for by central government, a Mr John McCormack was vetted and accepted by Poplar Harca as the forensic auditor. The report immediately revealed that Poplar Harca had been underfunding the Lansbury West TMO by around 1.4 million pounds. Upon reading the report Poplar Harca immediately withdrew all permission for the report to be published and tried their best to tarnish the report. The TMO went to their local MP at the time Jim Fitzpatrick, and also complained to the Government. Neither the MP or the government responded or even tried to help stating that this was a matter for Poplar Harca. Because Harca effectively held the copyright on the report, they put an immediate ban on any publications from publicising the report, and members of the TMO were threatened with legal action if they mentioned the reports contents publicly.

Poplar Harca did accept that funding had been not appropriate and agreed with the TMO to a portion of the reports stated underfunding back to the TMO, a couple of weeks later it was revealed to the TMO that these repayments in the form of added debt would be added to the the following years rent and service charges on the residents, and not taken from existing rent/service charge collection, thereby putting the debt owed to residents back in the hands of residents. The TMO and residents who by this time had had enough of their landlord Poplar Harca, decided which is their right as a tenant management organistion to advertise for a new landlord. Within days, Poplar Harca illegally closed down the TMO offices and refused entry to all employees. That day the executive officers of the TMO ran to the high court and explained their case to a judge who agreed that Poplar Harca had acted illegally, and ordered them to return control of their offices back to the TMO.

In the days that Harca had control of the offices, they accused the TMO of finding evidence of more mismanagement of funds and all executive officers were threatened with legal action unless their case against Poplar Harca was dropped. Members of the TMO started accusing each other of working for Poplar Harca as some had been revealed to have been accepting funds from the company for side projects. Also some had been offered huge sums of money for positions within Poplar Harca, some accepted, most declined. Under the threat and stress of legal action the board of the TMO agreed to disband the TMO under the promise from Poplar Harca that a ballot of residents a year later would occur, asking if they wanted another TMO.

“A joint statement by the Poplar HARCA and the TMO board in September said “As a resident led organisation, Poplar HARCA has agreed to ballot the residents of the Lansbury West Estate on whether they want another TMO in one year. Poplar HARCA will stand by the results of this ballot and provide assistance and support to residents in setting up a new TMO should
they vote for this option.”
EAST LONDON TMO CLOSES AFTER STORMY RELATIONSHIP WITH RSL – The TMO Magazine October 2005 page 9

To this date a ballot of residents asking whether they wanted another TMO has never occured, and all land and offices of the TMO have either been built on or taken over by other organisations.

Here below is the report that Harca funded and tried to ban..

Report: Beyond Stock Transfer


Poplar Harca Estate Cleaners & London Living Wage public meeting

October 5, 2010
1 Comment

Tommorow evening (Wednesday 6th October 2010) at St Mary’s & St Michaels Church in Commercial Road on the corner of Lukin Street at 7pm (see Google Maps Street View), Poplar Harca Estate Cleaners (see last post)sources inform me that they have been summoned to a meeting with the the Chief Executive Steve Stride (Stephen Edwin Arthur Stride) of Poplar Harca. Apparently they are to be given an update on their request for recognition of their work by bringing their wages up to the minimum London Living Wage level.

I’ve called the church, who inform me that TELCO (The East London Community Organisation) were holding a mayoral hustings there tommorow evening at 7:30pm to allow residents of Tower Hamlets to question the prospective mayoral candidates. Asking about Poplar Harca’s meeting, the church seemed unaware of this, but told me to contact TELCO.

I contacted TELCO who told me that I was correct. Harca were holding a meeting to discuss the Cleaners wages, as part of the London Living Wage Campaign which TELCO support and that Babu Bhattacherjee – Harca’s Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods was going to address the issue and not Steve Stride. When I asked if Steve was going I was told by TELCO that he was on holiday.

So tommorow evening at St Mary’s & St Michaels Church at 7pm Wednesday 6th October 2010 Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods for Poplar Harca Babu Bhattacherjee will be addressing the Estate Cleaners directly on the issue of the London Living Wage. Sources at Poplar Harca tell me that it will be unlikely if the backdating of the payment will be going ahead, as Poplar Harca are already reaching their peak debt facility of £275 million and are already looking at ways to curb spending .


Poplar Harca Estate Cleaners Protest Low Pay & Rights

September 14, 2010
2 Comments

Steve Stride

Yesterday between 12 & 1pm estate cleaners & ground workers employed by Poplar Harca protested outside Poplar Harcas Offices in East India Dock Road. The protest has been bubbling up for quite some time, for over a year Estate Cleaners/Ground Workers have been feeling abused by Steve Stride’s approach to his front line staff.

Apparently Poplar Harca pay their estate cleaners/ground workers and gardening crew far below the London Living Wage which was set up because of the higher cost of living in London. The London Live Wage tackles poverty directly and gives workers the bare minimum that stops them falling into the poverty trap. In Tower Hamlets the workers claim to be the lowest paid estate cleaners of any organisation acrosss the entire borough.

All of the estate cleaners were working for an agency around 2 years ago, and were then brought in-house over two years ago. Those employees were given a contract that restricted them to wages that make it difficult to survive in todays climate.

They also suffer from restrictions on their actual pay-scale. They do not enjoy the same status as other Poplar Harca Employees when it comes to pay-scaling. Where all other employees enjoy regular pay reviews and differing levels of pay linked to time of service, those at the lowest end of the employee spectrum working for Poplar Harca are left out of these types of bonus structures. This they argue leaves a disallusioned workforce feeling left out and abused by their employer.

Add this to the fact that they were also burdened with a contract that tied them into also working one weekend a month for no extra pay. Working both Saturday and Sunday without pay left them feeling abused by their employer Poplar Harca. Over the past few years, they argue that Poplar Harca have slowly decimated the front line workforce, on some estates you would have had upto 8 estate cleaners, where now there are around 3 to 5 workers, this has led to increased patches for each worker and ultimately more work. If you go walking around the estates now, you will see weeds growing through concrete, rats and mice now plaguing the estates, and overworked and overburdend workforce.

For over 2 years they have been fighting to be heard by Mr Stride who apparently turns up in person to the meetings with Union reps, but still to this day they feel they are getting no-where. Steve Stride the CEO of Poplar Harca whos own wages have gone up by at least 73% since 2003 (over 3 times the rate of inflation). Who still is part of the Local Government Pension Scheme adminstered when he was a housing manager at Tower Hamlets Council cannot see that all of his employees should be paid at least the London Living Wage immediately, and from sources within Poplar Harca themselves doesn’t seem to support it.

“The living wage campaigners say that low pay condemns workers to a grinding life of poverty, many having to do two or three jobs, with limited time to see their own families. ” – BBC May 2010

Even Tower Hamlets Council has a policy on the London Living Wage, where all directly employed personel are at minimum paid the London Living Wage, and contracted ‘should’ be paid this scale. Shame they dont try and pressure their beloved partners though

Union reps met previous to yesterday’s protest and were told by Poplar Harca that the London Living Wage would be reflected in their pay no earlier than April 2011 over 8 months away, but were instructed that there would be no backdating of the payrise, unlike the cleaners for the London Underground. No promises were made either though regarding bringing all employees into the wage structuring that is enjoyed by all other employees

All those attending the protest turned up within their one unpaid dinner hour to show support for their representatives inside who were to have another meeting from 1pm onwards to try and negotiate again for the raise to start sooner than April. Cleaners I spoke to had still not heard the outcome of yesterdays meeting.

Tension surrounded the protest as around 5-10 members of staff including senior members of the cleaning staff and other supervisors turned up and stood apart from the protestors laughing and shouting abuse at the protestors, who felt this was “out of order”. This became so heated that some felt that a fight was about to break out.

I asked Debbie Cordrey – Poplar Harcas Chair of the Finance & Audit Board, about this neglect of estate cleaners myself in an earlier post, asking whether the rumours I was hearing were true regarding staff treatment. In her capacity as Chair of that board she would have probably been instrumental in descisions made regarding paying staff wage rates that can lead people into poverty. After accusing me of “suggesting that we (Poplar Harca) are some kind of secret society that meets under cover of darkness” she then goes on to avoid answering the question. I wonder if Debbie who was Senior Unison shop steward at Island Homes, who was summarily dismissed on 4 February 2009 from Island Homes, and is now a public champion for Poplar Harca, I wonder if she would spare a thought now for those down-trodden by Poplar Harca. I wonder also if she knows the Unison representatives trying to fight for the cleaners, as a senior shop steward herself for Unison, I wonder how she feels?. Not enough I imagine to answer a simple question over a month ago, about issues she probably once stood for.

Mayor Boris Johnson is so supportive of the idea of the London Living Wage, and sees the need to give assistance to those who are most vulnerable to the effects of falling into poverty within London, has just recently raised the London Living Wage by another 25 pence per hour to £7.85 per hour.

As I’ve already stated in my earlier post, sources tell me that apparently Poplar Harca Estate Cleaners are the lowest paid in the borough, whether thats true or not, it is a fact that Poplar Harca cannot seem to see the importance of the London Living Wage. As campaigners keep pushing, this is about being treated fairly and bringing a small sense of pride in working at the bottom end of the scale. Its not much to ask, they dont want the earth but just a ‘dignified form of living’…

As always if there is anything you read here that is incorrect or that you dispute, please contact me and I will retract any statements that you prove otherwise. Unlike some I undoubtedly encourage free and open discussion, in fact I demand it. All responses will be published unless containing any defamatory, abusive or other derogatory statements.


Posted in Poplar Harca

Debbie Cordrey of Poplar Harca offers to answer questions

August 11, 2010
3 Comments

Today I recieved a comment from Debbie Cordrey who sits as a resident member on the Poplar Harca Main Board, is Chair of the Poplar Harca Finance & Audit Board, and also Vice Chair of the Joint Estate Panel.

The comment was recieved in response to this post: “Poplar Harca call Closed Meetings for Lansbury West Estate Board: August 5, 2010”. That meeting by the way was called off at the last minute. Sources tell me that members who were invited were not given any agendas, or minutes from any previous meetings, and the meeting was called off with little explanation.

First of all, Debbie if your reading this; my apologies if this comment is from someone impersonating you, and if the real Debbie Cordrey wishes for me to remove this post, proving that she is the real Debbie Cordrey, (sources within Poplar Harca tell me that you can contact me using your poplarharca email that is given to all board members) I will gladly do so…

Heres the comment attached to the bottom of the post above:

“I know we live in a country where freedom of speech is celebrated but it¹s a real shame your using this blog to write completely inaccurate and highly misleading information.

I am a resident of Poplar HARCA and the Vice Chair of the Joint Estate Panel and I want to set the record straight about the constitutional changes.

These weren’t just dreamt up by Poplar HARCA, they were developed by the residents after a lot of consultation and agreed by the Joint Estate Panel unanimously which is a group that is made up from representatives from all the estate boards in Poplar. Residents worked very hard on this and it is an insult to me and the other residents to say that our proposals are a breach of your constitutional rights.

I don’t know what is going on at Lansbury West and I’m sure not everyone agrees with everything, but these changes were voted on

fairly at the meeting, including by the representatives from Lansbury West.

To see our ideas being misrepresented in this way is very upsetting.

I’m not sure who is putting this stuff out, but I am prepared to say who I am and meet with you. Are you prepared to do the same?

Debbie Cordrey

Member

Comment by Debbie Cordrey — August 10, 2010 @ 5:24

Thankyou for your comments Debbie, and especially this one;

“Residents worked very hard on this and it is an insult to me and the other residents to say that our proposals are a breach of your constitutional rights.”

As I’ve stated in the response to your comment on the above post, I cannot see any reason to meet with you, but I do appreciate the offer of setting the record straight, and always welcome open discussion, so here goes;

As a representative of Poplar Harca could you please explain to the residents of Lansbury West why you agreed to do away with the following ammendments in your new constitution;

7. Ordinary General Meetings of Lansbury West Estate Board
………………………………..
d) amendments to the constitution of the Lansbury West Estate Board may be made at Ordinary General Meetings, subject to these being agreed by a majority of all Estate Board members (a minimum of 51% of elected members). Any agreed changes must then be ratified at the next Annual General Meeting of the Lansbury West Estate Board.
………………………………..

It then goes on to state within section 8 that;

8. Annual General Meeting of Lansbury West Estate Board

c) fourteen days prior notice must have been given to the Secretary of the Lansbury west Estate Board for any amendments to the Lansbury West Estate Board constitution. Such amendments must be approved by a two-thirds majority of voting members of the Lansbury West Estate Board at the Annual General Meeting and will then be the subject to approval by the Poplar HARCA Board.

The above two ammendments to the constitutions from what I’m told are both ratified and agreed by all of the Estate Board Members of the Lansbury West Estate Board. These two ammendments seem democtratically sound, and just. Residents tell me that this is the basis of the entire argument, as well as some other pretty disturbing changes (residents feel that they require full and open discussions by Estate Board Members), they feel they have the right to discuss and vote on any of the proposed changes, but for some reason Poplar Harca do not.

So let me ask you this Debbie, do you agree that members of any of the Estate Boards should be allowed to discuss and vote on these changes proposed by yourself and your members of the Joint Estate Panel (in closed sessions), which you have worked so diligently hard to change?

The above ammendments all seems straightforward, and is the template for which most if not all constitutions in history are based on. This ability for any organistion to change its constitution is indispensable for members, its also at the core of what defines a constituion. This right for members to propose, discuss and agree to changes to its constitution, is of paramount importance to the whole definition of constitutions.

Harca now want to take this basic right away from the hands of members and residents feel that in doing so they are putting a stranglehold on any opposing views. The way in which constitutions can get ammended now in the new constitution is as follows, all in its own section, but far more complicated;

13. Constitution Amendments

a) Proposed amendments to this constitution should be considered in terms of their suitability for all Estate Boards or to respond to a clearly specified requirment unique to an individual Estate.

b) The Lansbury West Estate Board may submit potential amendments to the Joint Estate Panel Constitutional Advisory Group throughout the year for the purposes fo discussion and to seek clarification and advice.

c) Proposed amendments must be provided by the Lansbury West Estate Board to the Joint Estate Panel Constitutional Advisory Group by April 30th each year in order to be considered at that years round of Annual General Meetings.

d) Proposed amendments will be collated and distributed by the Joint Estate Panel Constitutional Advisory Group to all Estate Boards for consideration at their Annual General Meeting and will require the approval of a two-thirds majority of residents attending each Estate Board Annual General Meeting. Amendments will then be subject to approval by the Joint Estate Panel and the Poplar Board.

e) Changes agreed by this process will be applied to the constitutions of all Estate Boards, with the exception of any requirements unique to an Estate, which will be recorded in item 14 of this Constitution.

What you’ve supported and voted on here Debbie is a complete mess.
You’ve created a system that allows others to change your constitution for you. For instance if another estate board suggests a change to the constitution and 1 third of the Estate Boards disagree with the change, (thats 4 whole boards) then they will be forced to accept the change. Also and more importantly any change that one Estate Board wants to commit to their own constitution, requires the approval of other at least 7 other Estate Boards, as well as all of the other hoops they have to jump through.

Now could you explain to me why you would agree to something as ridiculous as that. What purpose does it take to devolve this simple constitutional right that all other organisations have and lovingly protect. For some reason Debbie, it comes across to members & residents, that you; Debbie Cordrey, the Joint Estate Panel, and the Constitutional Advisory Group and Poplar Harca overall dont seem to trust the Individual Estate Boards with the conventional power to change their own constitutions.

It may seem as if I’m oversimpifying these matters but this constitutional right to change your own constitution within the original document is paramount to the rights of not only the Boards, but also to the residents that they purport to represent. Each change to a constitution, and the constitutions themselves are the only form of contract that Estate Boards hold, these must not only be protected from automatic changes now, but also into the future. By taking away this basic tenet of constitutional authority, you have paved the way for chaos within the organisation. Now and for ever more, by proposing this, voting for and accepting this basic change, to the way the changes themselves are made you have lost your constitutions and basically made them worthless documents, that are meaningless to your members, let alone the residents who you so fondly claim to represent.

Could you explain to me also Debbie, why your résumé for Poplar Harca makes no mention of your position on the Joint Estate Panel? Not that I disbelieve you, far from it, it’s just that it leads to other questions that have been bothering me of late.

Why are “Joint Estate Panel” meetings not publically minuted like the rest of the Poplar Harca Boards?, or even alluded to within the Boards section of Poplar Harca’s website?
Why is it that none of the board meetings are advertised, and more importantly are not open to the public?

Oh one other thing Debbie, as a member of the Finance & Audit Board, could you please comment on the emails that I’m getting from members of Poplar Harca’s Estate Cleaners. I’m told that Poplar Harca’s Estate Cleaners are the lowest paid in Tower Hamlets amongst all forms of cleaners for social housing estates in the Borough. I’m also told that the organisation you represent doesn’t even pay them the “London Living Wage” which is used to tackle poverty within london providing workers with the basic means to support not only themselves but also their families. Workers tell me that the unions have threatened Strike Action with Poplar Harca, and that Steve Stride himself is in direct negotiations with these Union representatives. Please could you clarify Poplar Harca’s position on this and if these statements are true?
If the statements about the low-pay, being the lowest paid in Tower Hamlets and also being below the London Living Wage which is there to ease poverty are all true?, how does that make you feel representing an organisation on its “Finance & Audit Board” and quite possibly being responsible for potentially pushing families into poverty?

I await your response enthusiastically..


Poplar Harca Contractor investigated for Fraud

August 5, 2010
1 Comment

United House Ltd one of the contractors who won a huge slice of Poplar Harca’s £445 million pound contracts for Housing development and Regeneration across its nine estates is being investigated for fraud by Islington Council.

Islington council are launching a fraud inquiry into its two “Private Finance Initiative (PFI)” schemes over concerns raised by Leaseholders with regards to overcharging and quality of work;

“Charges to leaseholders under Islington’s PFI scheme are capped at £10,000, with the PFI consortium covering the rest.

Dr Brian Potter, chair of the Islington Leaseholders’ Association, said: ‘Some of this work would have £40,000 spent on it and you wouldn’t believe it, it was just a coat of paint and a couple of new windows.’

The probe will look at whether consultation procedures were followed, bills were accurate and on time, errors in leases were identified and leaseholders contacted, and whether building and planning regulations were complied with.” – Islington launches fraud inquiry into housing PFIs Inside Housing Magazine 23/07/10

These allegations seem to have been going on for some time and United House Ltd., Kent, who won a multiple awardees contract award from Poplar HARCA in December 2009, have been implicated in numurous breaches of rules and regulations. It would seem that council officials from Islington also have come under suspicion for covering up the scandal;

“London, Islington, August 2008: HBOS owned Partners For Improvement in Islington (PFI Ltd), and their Head of Quality, Ed Butler, acting in cohort with Nic Treble from United House Ltd, have “passed off” part of the £ 350 million Islington Decent Home works as “meeting FULL AVAILABILITY” standard for works that Independent Regulators (CORGI) and Islington’s own experts have condemmed as a

“danger to life and property” (CORGI)
“unlawful”
“criminal ”
“non-compliant with statutory requirements” and
“down right dangerous

Even though Islington’s Chief Executive, John Foster, and Islington internal Anti-fraud officer,Jim Hodges, have been handed Enforcement, Inspection and Expert Reports which evidence that false certification documentation was being used to obtain public funds (and also enhanced performance bonus payments) we understand that nobody from the PFI consortium, no officer from Homes for Islington who failed to verify compliance and performance, nor a single officer involved in Islington Council’s bodged cover-up have been interviewed under caution or have been suspended pending an investigation by Councillors or the owners of the PFI .”

– TOP COUNCIL OFFICIALS COVER ISLINGTON DECENT HOME SCAM

…..Please click on the link above it makes for fascinating reading.

Price Waterhouse have been brought in to investigate the claims made against United House, as an internal investigation by United House found no proof of the claims.
Well no surprise there..I wonder has any one of these internal investigations ever revealed a crime?

A National Audit Office report into Housing PFI’s has revealed that Islingtons only two PFI schemes costs have spiraled since their original business plans were put forward, one as much as 3 times as large.
Over both schemes the costs have gone over by as much as £160 million pounds.

Not only is United House under a cloud of suspicion but so are some of the other 14 successful bidders into Poplar Harca’s round of £445 million pound contracts for Poplar.

An Office of Fair Trading investigation over a 5 year period revealed that at least a 100 top construction firms were colluding to overcharge local authorities and major building projects;

“The infringements affected building projects across England worth in excess of £200 million including schools, universities hospitals, and numerous private projects from the construction of apartment blocks to housing refurbishments.” – OFT press release 2009: Construction Firms fined for Illegal Bid-Rigging

“A firm that did not want to win the contract would submit a price that was much too high. In some cases, the successful bidder would then reward them with a secret payment.Cover pricing meant the tendering authority, which could be a local council or other customer, received a false impression of the level of competition and could end up paying inflated prices. The OFT found 199 offences where the 103 companies artificially inflated £200m worth of work.” – The Guardian 22 September 2009

Despite these firms being fined a total of 129.5 million between them, the average fines were a mere 1.1% of these firms global average turnover. So just a smack on the wrist after an investigation costing millions and taking over 5 years, revealed these firms were colluding to cheat the taxpayer out of millions. What galls me, is they even though they were caught “bang to rights”, that because they admitted their guilt, their fines were reduced, some with upto 50% to 65% leniency in discounts on the scale of their fines, because they admitted it.

“Eighty-six out of the 103 firms received reductions in their penalties because they admitted their involvement in cover pricing prior to today’s decision.” – OFT Press Release 2009: Construction firms fined for illegal bid-rigging

At least two others (Durkan Limited & Galliford Try) on Poplar Harca’s special list of successful bidders taking a share of the £445 million pound pot were part of the OFT investigation into over a 100 construction firms and were caught out colluding to push up prices on Local Authority Projects. Durkan Limited were fined £6,720,551, and Galliford Try, £8,333,329.

So I wonder how does Poplar Harca feel about dealing with companies that have been caught up in schemes that implicate them in what seems to be apparent fraudulant activities to fleece the taxpayer out of milions of pounds?

Oh I forgot to say….one last side note. After winning part of the £445 million pound contract to increase the density and misery of those already living in Poplar, Poplar Harca’s successful bidder “United House Ltd” then went on to sponsor the “Tenant Empowerement Team of the Year Award” as part of this years Housing Heroes Awards 2010……

….Poplar Harca’s “Resident Engagement Team led by Fintan Tynan” , won the award this year.

Funny that..


Poplar Harca kick Estate Board out of their own meeting

July 19, 2010
18 Comments

Residents on the Lansbury Estate tell me that on the 5th July, on the Monday evening, the members of the newly elected Lansbury West Estate Board were kicked out of their own meeting by members of the Poplar Harca Resident Engagement Team.

After heated discussions following what members believe is a clear abuse of their constitutional rights, Fintan Tynan – Poplar Harcas Resident Engagement Manager, broke the rules laid out in the constitution, cleared the room and called the meeting to an end.

The discussions started after members were immediately asked to acknowledge a new constitution with huge changes compared to the current one, without any discussion by estate board members, and more importantly without agreement or ratification by members.

Members were insulted to hear that the matter of these changes was not to be a subject for discussion and never would be, and were then threatened by Harca Officers present with the fact that non-acceptance of the dramatically changed constitution would mean that you could not be members of the Lansbury West Estate Board. Elected Members argued that they were already democratically elected by residents on the estate to represent their interests, and that each one of them had already recieved letters congratulating them by Harca on their successful election to the Lansbury West Estate Board, so how could they be sacked in their first meeting? Harca Officers then instructed them that the Estate Boards were not Independent entitites, and were part of the Poplar Harca Governance Structure, and that if they didn’t like the situation they “could always set up their own residents association” that would then be fully representing residents unlike the Harca Estate Boards. Members claim that Harca do not support “Independent” residents associations in any way, and make it difficult for members to meet by blocking use of community facilities. Members do not know of any other tenants associations that exist on Harca Estates, and all that did exist have since been disbanded and absorbed into the non-independent Harca governance structure. Leaving resident without any real independent advice on their estates.

Members present felt insulted and bullied by the Harca officers. They felt that they were being told that they represent Harca first over the residents of the estate, and the ‘take it or leave it’ attitude by those senior Harca officers present was an insult to the whole estate.

These events have left residents on the estate angry and determined to get involved with the process of representation on the estate. They argue that the new constitution gives too much power to Harca Officers, even stopping residents or representatives from bringing complaints to meetings. Other changes bar you from critising the actions of Harca officers, or reminding them of their duties to board members. Other changes include; Harca will now be in charge of removing people who they deem to be disruptive, and restricting committee members access to those people or members who Harca deem disruptive.

Harca have since cancelled another Estate Board meeting called by members last Monday 12th July 2010 without any explanation, and have now sent an ultimatum letter. This letter explains that they have to sign a declaration that they will accept the new constitution of 2010 otherwise they are not welcome as Estate Board Members, this must be signed by today 19th July 2010.

This “bullying and intimidation” is from the same Resident Engagement Team that won the Tenant Empowerment Team of the Year award at the prestigious Housing Heroes Award 2010.

Fintan Tynan and the rest of the Resident Engagement Team
Fintan Tynan and the rest of the Mob.

Is that a ‘Glock 9mm’ he’s holding?

Good Times…


Harca Door Mat Ban Update..

July 9, 2010
1 Comment

Just came across this today, a summary of one the Poplar Harca Boards. This is the first I’ve seen in writing from Poplar Harca regarding this new policy;

Safe and Clear Communal Areas Policy
Andrea Baker set out details of a proposed new policy on a zero tolerance approach to any items or rubbish in communal areas, including hanging baskets and doormats. The report had been presented to JEP where it was unanimously approved.

One Board member felt uncomfortable about the scope of the policy and felt that things like doormats and hanging baskets often improved the look of a block. Officers maintained that this was necessary for health and safety reasons so that escape from a property was not impeded in any way in the event of a fire.

The Services Board agreed to implement this policy (with the exception of one Board member) but asked that the impact of the policy be reviewed in 6 months time and a report presented to a future Services Board meeting.

http://www.poplarharca.co.uk/Aboutus/OurBoards/BoardSummaries/ServicesBoardSummary1June2010.pdf

This document can also be found mirrored here: http://viewer.zoho.com/docs/hDrdai


This is from the Services Board Meeting on June 1st 2010, and the Board members present were;

Millicent Muganyi (Chair), Ben Wilson, Katherine
Maciejewski, Ms Rumi Manik and Mr Colin Woollard.

Now I looked everywhere for this type of information when i wrote the last post regarding this “Poplar Harca Ban Door Mats – 6 July 2010” a few days ago, and could not find any clarification anywhere. I wonder if anyone read this, and pumped out the summary of the Services Board meeting on the quick.

Regardless, my sources were right, this is now an actual policy by Harca. The wording “communal areas” means any areas outside of your property. Zero-tolerance, is what gets me. If my sources are right, could this be what gets some people evicted from their homes?

Talking to a resident in Bow just today regarding the situation, we got into quite a heated debate. At first they didn’t believe me and thought i was winding them up, but after they realised i was telling the truth, they became quite angry;

“This is ‘expletive’ outrageous, what ‘expletive’ right does ‘expletive’ Harca have to force these ‘expletive’ rules upon us?”

When I informed them that this was not Harca’s descision but your own resident representatives on the boards of Harca, they replied;

“These people ought to be ‘expletive’ ashamed of themselves, they certainly dont represent me”

Finally after I’d realised the air of anger had started to draw more attention, i left my new angry friend to tell his own pals. As I was walking away, my ear was cheerfully drawn back them, hearing that well-worn East End catch-phrase trail away;

“Who the ‘expletive’ do they think they are?”


Posted in Poplar Harca

Poplar Harca Ban Door Mats

July 6, 2010
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Sources within Poplar Harca tell me that at a recent set of meetings with different Poplar Harca boards, it was voted to ban the use of Door Mats, Plant Pots & Hanging Baskets from outside of all Poplar Harca Tenant & Leaseholder Properties. Apparently this policy is still yet to be announced, and the majority of residents are at this moment still completly unaware.

After looking at this for awhile, it seems that if true,(and I have a reliable source on this), then Harca is not the first to impose such a ban, and that their have been numerous other instances with various Housing Providers.

The question now though is how will residents react to the as yet confirmed but unannounced policy (coming I assume in the following weeks) by Poplar Harca?

Some of the more reserved opinions from residents who know of this are already arguing that this is a “step too far” and that we;

“dont live in a nanny-state, so why do we have to put up with it?”

Will tenants take matters into their own hands like those in Wolverhampton who openly flouted this restriction imposed on them by their own Wolverhampton Homes?.
Will they also like the Wolverhampton residents who then pressurised their elected councillors to lobby their Council to overturn the ban?. Although at present Wolverhampton council didn’t exactly bow to the pressure but rather ordered a review of the situation, it still shows the depth of feeling amongst residents to this much heralded of traditions.

I’ve been informed that this has apparently been voted through on the Harca Boards on some ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Anti-Social Behaviour Policy. It would seem this is probably going to be implemented by a warning, apparently threatening the resident with the possiblity of proceedings being carried out that could lead to you forfeiting your tenancy agreement, or your leasehold agreement, for non-compliance with this ruling/warning.

“Essentially meaning remove these items or will boot you out of your home, regardless of whether you own it or not”

Where most other associations/councils seem to have pushed these same policies through. They seem to be with regard to individual blocks of flats targeting communal corridors, and stairwells. I’m led to believe that Harca’s policy will be a blanket ban across all Harca properties, regardless of dwelling, flat, maisonnette, houses, even those items placed behind gates, well away from typically defined communal areas are to be targeted.

These type of policies, I’m told, are all linked to the tragedy that occured with the fire on July 3rd 2009 last year in South London at Lanakal House, which even members of City hall still cannot to this Date decide how it spread, and to be blunt dont seem to even want to talk about it. Even though there are plenty of theories regarding its spread, it seems that some councils and other housing organisations seem set on using this tragedy to push through some extremely authoritarian Health & Safety Policies
These kind of policies at first sight would seem to have started out as what would seem to be a knee-jerk reaction to the Lanakal House Tragedy, and that some Organisations immediately brought in their own Door Mat Ban policies within a matter of weeks.

If you dig a little deeper though, I believe that the Lanakal House Tragedy seems to be being used to push through policies that were already in the pipeline and were already being used in earlier cases by other housing providers. Why the need for such an extreme Health & Safety Policy though?, when you will create an uproar with tenants, and that ultimately has no link to the recent tragedy?

It would seem that rather than actually thinking about Health & Safety as a first regard, it can come across as if these organisations are more worried about litigation from trip hazards occuring, and who would be responsible.Policies who’s sole benefit IMO seems in some instances to have been set up to avoid possible litigous proceedings in our modern day compensation culture.

Thurrock Council recently introduced the policy;

It has cited the recent fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell in July 2009, where several people died, as an example of the importance of health and safety.

where residents seem to have been opposed to policy;

“Its crazy but really funny at the same time, its health and safety gone mad.”

Local Firebrigade officers I’ve talked to, also think this policy is a step too far. Asking, me;

“Has their been any consultation with residents? and going on to state that although they would not like to go against Poplar Harca policy, that the policies do not come from them. This seems to have been something that Poplar Harca have arrived to with outside agencies.”

Although they agree that communal stairwells and corridors potentially littered with chairs, settees, bikes and the like can be a problem. They have never encountered problems with door mats, hanging baskets, or pot-plants.

I’m told that this policy has been in full consultation with residents, and this was actually instigated by the results of that consultation. Angry residents are arguing though that there has not been any consultation regarding this to their knowledge. I myself have spent the day looking for any sign of this within Harca’s own web site, including the councils, and also talking to Harca residents. Too be honest I cannot find any sign of any consultation regarding this either. Not that that means its not out there, just to state, that it at least seems scant on the ground

Resident Groups realising this is an outrageous policy are now looking to follow the example of other areas and seeking to call meetings with councillors.

Even though I dont own a doormat personally, it makes me want to go out and buy one in solidarity. One of those that would abide by the Ancient and Beloved Irish Welcome placed on doormats all across the emerald isle, and that brings a tear to the eye when first heard;

– Please feel free to comment on this post, and any innaccuracies you find will instantly be rectified if you notify me.


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Chrisp Street Market Development Blocked by TFL

May 27, 2010
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Transport For London seem to have put the mockers on Poplar Harca’s plans for Chrisp Street Market.

I was going to do a whole piece on how Poplar Harca were failing in its bid to notify residents of Lansbury as a whole, with regard to Tommorow Evenings open event regarding the Chrisp Street Development;

Flyer on Chrisp Street Market Development

Residents and Traders alike who I have spoken to feel as if they have been left out of the Consultation process. Talking to ‘Abdi Awil 0207 005 7669’ at Poplar Harca whos contact details were left on the flyer above, stated that they only leafleted ‘Lansbury South’. I argued why were ‘Lansbury West’, ‘Lansbury North’, Brownfield, Teviot, Aberfeldy, and the rest of Poplar and the Isle of Dogs not notified, when this is their main market as well. I asked how many homes had been leafleted and he didn’t know.

Abdi, who until last week was a resident board member of Poplar Harca’s Devons Estate Board & also a member of Harca’s Finance & Audit Board is now a fully fledged employee of Poplar Harca, employed as the ‘Projects Facilitation Officer’. As a result of his employment last week, I would imagine that he would have had to resign from his post as a member of the ‘Finance & Audit’ board.

These flyers were only given to Traders in Chrisp Street this Tuesday 24th May, for an event this Friday (tommorow) 28th May, and Saturday 29th May. Walking around the market I noticed only 3 flyers in the Market. One in the charity shop, one in the card shop in vesey path, and one in the Pie & Mash Shop next to the Harca office on East India Dock Road. No where else did I see any other flyers, not even in the most used places in the market, the Post-Office & the Chrisp Street One Stop Shop (More on this later).

Anyway I feel Harca owe it to the residents of the entire area of Poplar to keep them fully informed of events regarding their only market.

With regards to TFL, sources within the traders commitee who met last night with the Architects & Poplar Harca representatives tell me that all plans are now on hold as ‘Transport For London’ have put in an objection. Apparently its regarding one of the access routes, and thats all they knew as no-one would be pushed on it. They went on to inform me that the ‘Evaluation Meeting for the 28th June has now been postponed indefinitely.

I asked about the new ‘Projects Facilitation Officer – Abdi Awil’ and they stated that yes they knew who he was but that he had sat silent the whole meeting taking the minutes of the meeting. Not a bad job for such a fancy job title.


Poplar Harca – Unfit Landlord?

May 23, 2010
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First of all, what a gloriously beautiful day. Anyway, just thought i’d post this picture i took today walking along Burdett Road.

Hmmmm, wonder what thats all about?. If anyone knows please get in contact.


Posted in Poplar Harca