Residents' Association Update
1 March 2005

Introduction

At the last Residents' Association(RA) AGM in August 2004, Island residents voiced general dissatisfaction at the performance of the Island's Managing Agent, CPM Asset Management, and the developer Fairview.

Both were criticised for failing to address problems on the Island. Fairview in particular was heavily castigated for failing to maintain the infrastructure of the Island pending handover of land to the London Borough of Enfield Council and the RA.

Since then, the directors of the RA have been working hard with all parties concerned to resolve the issues raised. This posting is a comprehensive update on the latest state of play and is by way of a reply to the letter sent out to residents by Mr Stephen Casey, Fairview Managing Director, which was, in turn, Fairview's response to the residents' pro forma letter initiated by Joan Ryan MP.

Local MP, Ward Councillors and London Borough of Enfield

Progress on issues outlined below has been due to many factors. However, the personal involvement of Joan Ryan MP with the support of Ward Councillors, Mrs Penny Heathwood and Norman Ford cannot be over emphasised. All have been proactive in their support of the Island and in addressing the concerns of the residents. They have also providing valuable advice to RA directors and brokered many important contacts between the directors and the police and London Borough of Enfield (LBE) council officials, which are slowly paying dividends. The directors would also like to acknowledge the part being played by the LBE in helping them resolve difficult and sensitive issues.

CPM Asset Management

Directors met with CPM Senior Management in October 2004 and voiced concerns over their representative who managed the Island, Bill Pryke, and asked that he be replaced. It took a while, but as of 18 February 2005, Nigel Marton-Falvy has been appointed to manage the Island. Nigel is an experienced managing agent and although early days his appointment looks promising; he is already proving to be proactive on many issues. It is also worthy of note that CPM are no longer allied to Equity Asset Management!

Road Safety

The RA has expressed concern about the safety of the main entrance to the Island; namely, the junction of Mollison Avenue and Ordnance Road. This has been the site of a car crash about once a month, which on each occasion has hit pedestrian areas. It was only a matter of time before death and injury occurred. The RA's view is that improvements are needed to prevent cars speeding or jumping the lights and that safer crossing arrangements for pedestrians should be considered.  

Another concern is that the main road through the estate is often used for joyriding type behaviour. Regrettably the design of the road enables joy riders to take a straight line by crossing to the wrong side of the road and then driving through the bus stop. This will also result in a death or injury in due course. It has already caused a number of car crashes as joy riders take evasive action and hit parked vehicles.

Following these concerns the Chairman of the RA, Tony Thake, met with Mr Liam Mulrooney, Head of Traffic and Transportation Service, LBE. The meeting has resulted in changes to the sequencing of the traffic lights at the junction of Mollison Avenue, Ordnance Road and Smeaton Road, and a survey into accidents which occur there to see what additional measures, if any, may be necessary. The unsanitary behaviour of bus drivers was also raised and measures to install a temporary toilet were discussed.

Further details can be found here at Enclosure 2.

London Borough of Enfield

As previously alluded to the RA is maintaining a healthy dialogue with LBE officials. A variety of meetings have taken place recently to discuss the concerns of the RA in respect of the handover of land and assets by Fairview to LBE and the RA. A synopsis of the main issues are outlined below in notes made by the Tony Thake following a meeting with LBE officials in January 2005.

1. Planning

LBE updated the RA on the process for finishing the Ward Homes development. LBE offered to make any planning information available to the RA, especially as some of this land would be handed over to the RA on completion.

2. Adoption

a. Fairview's Unfair Handover Arrangements

The RA is dissatisfied with the current handover arrangements by Fairview New Homes. Fairview has set up an arrangement under which it simply hands over common areas to the RA when it says they are ready. Fairview is insistent that the RA has no right to refuse even if there is disagreement between the parties.

The RA's view is that this is an unfair arrangement made possible because Fairview has represented both its own and the residents' interests when drafting the legal documents: a clear conflict of interest, which leaves residents' unable to reject property that is not up to standard. The RA is also anxious to make sure that Fairview accepts future liability for problems that already exist, but which might not emerge until after they depart!

LBE officials expressed some sympathy with the RA and suggested that further discussions with LBE would be helpful, as Fairview would need to maintain good relationships with the Council after it leaves Enfield Island Village.

b. Sewers

Adoption of the sewers has been a particular issue: Fairview has told the RA to take over the remaining sewers. The RA has refused as there are frequent problems with sewage backing up into residents homes. Fairview's response has been to threaten the RA, saying it is acting illegally.

In any case, the RA's view is that sewers are something residents know nothing about. Other Enfield residents do not have to maintain sewage systems and as such responsibility for operating and maintaining them should be transferred to the relevant water authority, not to residents.

LBE officials have offered to check the legal position and check what has already being handed over to the water authority. The LBE would also consider brokering discussions with the water authority about it taking over the sewage system as a whole.

c. Roads

The RA disagrees with the logic for most of the roads on the Island being handed over to residents rather than LBE, along with the open space in the middle of the development. This looked like an unfair cost cutting policy by the LBE at a time when residents weren't here to disagree. It is unfair because residents of Enfield Island Village will have to pay the same council tax as other LBE residents, but will receive considerably less in public services. In effect residents' council tax will be higher because they will have to pay the RA for work the council should be doing. This will result in residents paying the RA to maintain the street and grassland outside their homes, when for other Borough residents this is funded through the council tax. The RA also expressed the anger of residents at the failure of Fairview to deliver working streetlights for over 3 years.

The RA's view is that all roads and the public open space should be adopted by LBE. In the meantime, LBE should refund part of the council tax paid by residents to the RA to enable it to maintain them.

LBE said that the current arrangement reflected planning agreements, but that the RA should raise the issue with councillors. LBE also updated the RA on progress by Fairview in making the necessary changes to streetlights and drains on the spine roads pending their adoption by LBE.

3. Post Adoption

a. Refuse

The RA set out their concerns about the refuse arrangements for the Island. The lack of bins means that bags are left outside which are often split open by birds and foxes, which creates a mess and a health risk.

The RA has asked for a better solution.

LBE said that it wants to try and avoid wheelie bin solutions because they make it too easy for residents not to recycle, which impacts on the Council's ability to achieve local recycling targets. It has offered to deliver a 'recycling event' on the Island and put together a welcome pack for residents including information on what residents can recycle and how this is supported by the LBE.

b. RA Areas and Areas to be Adopted by LBE

Fairview has failed to maintain the estate over the last few years. Weeds have been a major problem on the pavements, the public open space has been left in a messy condition and litter has not been cleared from the areas still managed by Fairview. Residents have been vocal in their anger, but Fairview has ignore the protests and refused to send anyone to the past 3 annual meetings of residents. The RA hopes that LBE will maintain the adopted areas in a better condition, but has also asked the LBE to make sure that Fairview does not get away with such neglect in future developments.

LBE explained their plans for regular maintenance once it adopts the roads and suggested that the RA purchase a litter service from LBE for the remainder of the development so that there are no boundary issues.

4. Community Cohesion

The RA is aware of the need to develop a community spirit on the Island. To do so will call for the residents to support the Community Centre, which costs residents around 1,000 per month. Developing a program of social events and activities, especially for those residents who are financially disadvantaged, will also help.

LBE said that Section 106 funds would be available and that the RA should discuss this with Steve Jaggard at LBE.

Fairview Handover 'Phase'

You may all have noticed a flurry of activity on the Island over the past couple of months. This is due to Fairview preparing the Island, namely the adoptable areas for hand over to the LBE. The adoptable areas comprise most of the main roads and street lighting bordering them and the sewage and drainage. At the same time Fairview are hoping to hand over areas on the Island earmarked for maintenance by the RA.

1. Adoption by LBE

The Council, have the power to refuse any areas or infrastructures on the Island they deem not to be of an adoptable standard. We the RA have been told we do not have such a right (See para 2a above); we are to seeking legal advice on this.


Assuming the LBE are satisfied with the areas they are to adopt, transfer of responsibility to the council will take place in May 2005.

2. Adoption by the RA

Handover of areas to be maintained by the RA is a bit more problematical! This centers around the fact that we seemingly have no 'rights' to refuse any areas scheduled for transfer if we deem them not to be to 'adoption standard'.

There is also no formal process by which to hand land over to the RA, let alone determine it is of an 'adoptable standard'. The previous Managing Agent, Ian Gibbs, took it upon themselves to accept land from Fairview on behalf of the RA. However, there is no paper trail let alone legal process to determine the legality of this land transfer, let alone WHAT land and WHEN it was transferred. This is of grave concern to the current board of directors and when the subject was raised with Fairview last year they gave the RA a bullish response.

To date there is still no clarity on this subject and as far as Fairview are concerned they have already handed over the Flat Management Company areas and have only the RA areas remaining. The RA are not prepared to accept this and have asked for evidence of the procedure by which Fairview handed over the Flat Management Areas, to whom and when. The RA are, meanwhile, also obtaining legal advice on the whole handover issue.

Notwithstanding the above, Fairview has recently entered into an 'accommodation' with the RA and instigated a form of handover 'procedure', but for the RA areas only. This entails a Fairview representative going around the areas belonging to the RA with the Island's Managing Agent with an RA director 'in attendance' in order to prepare a 'snagging list' - a list of agreed works services needed to bring any areas up to an adoption standard. The RA has accepted this 'procedure' but 'Without Prejudice' whilst we arrange for a professional surveyor or similar professional to give us his expert opinion on the state of the areas being scrutinised. Two areas of the Island have been surveyed to date.

Several matters are currently receiving our attention and I have included by way of an example a plagiarised copy of correspondence between Fairview and the RA concerning some of the more important ones:

Enclosures 3, are Fairview's initial observations, Enclosures 4 are IC's comments (representing the RA), shown in blue type, and Enclosure 5 Fairview's' response, shown in green type.

You will note in particular the RA's scepticism surrounding the Public Open Space(POS). There is a problem with drainage on the POS and the RA is concerned about the effectiveness of Fairview's efforts to address it. There are further concerns over the integrity of the sewage system and private pumping stations, as well as the Safety Audit in respect of the boundary fencing.

Fairview has also expressed 'disappointment' over Joan Ryan's letter referred to in the Introduction paragraph above. Whilst acknowledging that Fairview and the RA have had a regular dialogue, Fairview have failed to respond positively to many issues of concern to the RA, - until recently. It was because of this that the RA sought the help of Joan Ryan MP, Ward councillors and the LBE.

Conclusion

Finally, this handover period is a crucial phase for the residents and the RA are conscious of the need to hold Fairview accountable for any failings in the development, and to identify any problems in the Island's infrastructure before Fairview absolve themselves of responsibility.