Leaseholders left hanging as BOTH housing bosses invited to monthly meeting fail to turn up
PUBLISHED: 18:37 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:31 12 April 2019
Irate leaseholders piled in to Islington Town Hall last night for their chance to quiz two housing chiefs – but neither of them turned up.
News of Cllr Diarmaid Ward’s illness failed to reach Islington Leaseholders’ Association (ILA), who found out the hard way that the Islington Council cabinet member for housing wasn’t going to be there.
Nor were right-to-buy homeowners able to question the only other invited guest, Partners for Improvement managing director Tom Irvine, as he had excused himself from the agenda some six weeks earlier.
Cllr Ward told the Gazette he believed apologies had been given for the fact he was off work ill, but ILA chair Dr Brian Potter insists they were never received.
By contrast, Mr Irvine gave so much notice of his absence that there was time to invite him to the March ILA meeting instead. It is not known whether he made it.
Mr Irvine’s reticence may be understandable: he was subjected to a sustained battering by tenants, leaseholders and politicians alike at Islington’s housing scrutiny committee in February. Council chiefs, including Cllr Ward, have made little secret of their distaste for the long-running PFI 1 and PFI 2 contracts.
Islington offloaded management of some 6,500 houses to Partners in the early 2000s, with PFI 1 due to expire in 2033 and PFI 2, which covers 4,100 homes across the borough, set to run out in three years’ time. The Partners – Hyde Housing Association, Rydon Property Maintenance, United Living and Halifax Bank of Scotland – have been accused of letting properties fall into disrepair, despite performance figures alleging they are hitting targets.
Cllr Ward told the Gazette he would speak to Dr Potter to apologise.
“I’m happy to come to the next meeting and in the meantime I will ask that any matters that came up at the meeting are emailed to me,” he said.
Dr Potter made his feelings about the snub plain in a group email to ILA members this afternoon.
“To those leaseholders,” he said, “who attended last night’s meeting at the town hall in anticipation of speaking to Cllr Diarmaid Ward, chair of housing and development, thank you.
“Unfortunately, as you are aware, Cllr Ward was nowhere to be seen.
“Nor did he bother to communicate his intentions to boycott our meeting by email, phone or representative.
“Please be aware that as of this moment I have yet to receive any form of communication from either Cllr Ward, or his department, much less an apology in regard to Cllr Ward’s lack of common courtesy to Islington leaseholders and the ILA, at his failure to attend a meeting to which he had agreed to attend on more than one occasion.”
Dr Potter also encouraged leaseholders to complain individually to Cllr Ward, including the councillor’s email address in enormous letters at the bottom of his rant.