Karen Buck MP

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Letter to Hallfield Residents

Dear Hallfield Resident,

The history of the Major Works on Hallfield Estate has been a complicated one and stretches back over several years. During the last year a number of complaints have been made to me by residents (leaseholders, council tenants and private tenants). These range from leaseholder charges and errors to the continuing problem of poor insulation and heating problems during the winter months, mould, damp and ventilation problems, the length of time scaffolding has been in place in some blocks, which has left residents in year-round dark, security concerns linked to the scaffolding being in place for so long, and overall poor communications.

I realise that these are complex and long-standing issues, and residents have different views on the best way to proceed. However, whilst I have been receiving responses from CityWest Homes and Westminster Residential Environmental Health, I am acutely aware that many residents are still unhappy with the handling of many matters on the Hallfield, such as the slow pace with which many of the their concerns are dealt with.

Going forward I am looking to highlight key issues from the past year and press for improvements from CWH in certain areas.

• Windows: It is to be hoped that, the fact that the Hallfield Windows Group is now up and running will be good news. I will be monitoring this closely and want to be reassured that, although it has taken a considerable time to resolve, CWH advise that they now expect a final decision on the window replacement for kitchen and bathrooms to be made this autumn, and residents will be balloted after that.

• Cold: I am seriously concerned about excess cold in a number of the Hallfield flats. Together with the problems of condensation, damp and mould, these problems are impacting on health, making many people's lives miserable and adding to the cost of fuel bills, especially in winter. What I hoped would be temporary remedial action in 2010/11 may still be needed in the winter of 2013, so I am asking for a plan to once again assist families and elderly residents this winter, along the lines of the Warm Homes Healthy People Project. 40 cases have been already referred to the Environmental Health project for the estate.

• Communication: Again and again I hear from constituents regarding planned or ongoing works, necessary repairs and other issues which are not responded to in a timely and effective fashion. Residents say that the information they require is often not included in newsletters and either enquiries are not responded to or they are passed between agencies. For example, the recent issue of the scaffolding around to Reading, Tenby and Pembroke Houses, has caused particular annoyance, as residents do not feel they have been kept informed about the length of time the scaffolding has been erected for, whether extra costs have been incurred, and the cause of ongoing delays to the concrete repairs.

• Management: Although the responsibility for many of the problems may lie with the contractor, many residents feel that effective contract management should have either prevented them arising or resolved them much more quickly. I am pleased the CWH Strategic Working Group has now started to meet on once a fortnight to improve joint oversight work and prioritise improvements such as condensation and excess cold. This arrangement is an improvement which I hope will bring a more integrated approach to the management and necessary improvement works to the Hallfield. But the fact remains that it has taken far too long to get a grip.

It is for residents to decide what work should be carried out and how it should be prioritised, but CWH must demonstrate proper, cost- effective control of the works and act in the interests of everyone on the estate. I will continue to pursue all concerns brought to me and welcome your comments. Please write to me at:

Karen Buck MP
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

Or email me at:

buckk@parliament.uk

Yours sincerely,

Karen Buck MP

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