Tenant News Produced by Tenants for Tenants
issue 10 October 2010
Protest at Parliament Message from Alan Rickman, Chair of TACT
Blooming Marvellous!! Taking advantage of the good weather this year, Highcliffe Tenants and Leaseholders Association decided to hold this year’s Annual General Meeting outside on a Saturday afternoon, with a gardening theme. On Saturday 12th June we pitched our gazebo in the grounds of Bar End Sports Stadium and piled the table with flowers, fruit and vegetable plants and bags of compost. Inside the sports pavilion, chairs were arranged in rows alongside a rack of empty hanging baskets. The event started with a demonstration on how to plant up a hanging basket by the secretary of our tenants association, who is a keen gardener. Then, those who attended, adults and children, were invited to choose a hanging basket and go outside to plant up their basket from the wide variety of plants available. Produced by Tenants for Tenants
Some chose plants on a colour theme. Some chose to grow a variety of vegetables and fruits, or a mixture of fruit and flowers. They all looked very colourful and professional! This was followed by refreshments, and the annual general meeting. We now have six members of our committee, and are keen to work on the challenges ahead of us in the coming year. We hope to do more events like this. We have also since followed up this event with our first evening walkabout, taking advantage again of the long summer evenings to walk around the estate at a different time of day, and enable people, who can’t attend in the daytime, to attend. Many thanks to the University of Winchester sports stadium for their fantastic help and support in allowing us to use their pavilion and grounds, and for help with refreshments. Thanks also to Humbees Nursery at Owslebury who donated such a brilliant assortment of flowers and vegetable plants for the hanging baskets.
Tenants, trade unions, councillors and MPs stand together to reject cuts and demand more investment in council housing the secure, affordable homes we need. Hands off our rents, our rights and our homes! TACT chairs and other members will be taking this message to the House of Commons in October to lobby parliament. The coalition government has already proposed cuts in Housing benefit and Local housing Allowance, which will hit tenants, cause homelessness and misery. Much has been said about this already in the press and on TV. TACT will be there fighting for justice and fair play. Changes have to be made, but must be thought through so that no-one suffers unfairly. Watch out for up dates after the event.
INSIDE this issue... G
Five go to Birmingham
Protest at Parliament
30 seconds with ... Pat Haste
What’s on ….. page 1
Impact of Housing Finance Reforms TACT held a special meeting in June to consider how Winchester would be affected by finance reforms proposed by the last Government. Richard Botham, Head of Landlord Services, explained the proposals to dismantle the current Housing Revenue Account (HRA) subsidy system and replace it with a devolved self-financing system. Why did the last government only release the details just days before the General Election? The coalition government is now reviewing the review, of the review made by the previous government! They now have to decide whether to implement, revise, or scrap it, and come up with their own version, provoking further discussion and delays. Defend Council Housing will be holding a conference on the whole issue in the near future and knows that Winchester will be affected. Tenants have been waiting for many years for a fair review of the HRA and we rely on the new coalition government to get it right, rather than present a botched job. There is still much to be done! TACT will support Richard Botham and the Council in any way it can to get the best deal for our tenants to see new affordable council homes being built once more! page 2
30 seconds with… good friends with some of our neighbours. When did you become a council tenant?
Compton TARA Chair Pat Haste, left, with Sue Down, Vice Chair.
Pat Haste has been Chair of Compton Tenants and Residents Association (TARA) since April 2009. The committee is small with just three members and two co-opted members. It works hard for local residents and makes a difference! How long have you lived here? Three years in Compton. Home is a one-bedroom bungalow shared with husband Colin. What do you like about it? It’s a quiet place to live with beautiful views. We have made
Leaseholder AGM In September Leaseholders held their 2nd Annual General Meeting and elected Chair Elaine Fullaway and Vice Chair Helene James, both from Kings Worthy, to lead the group for the coming year. This year the forum has been involved in inspecting the leaseholder service, making suggestions for improving the service. They have produced a leaflet for Leaseholder Facing Large Bills, and are currently helping the Council to publish a Leaseholders Handbook which will be sent out to all Leaseholders soon. The Forum’s next meeting is on Tuesday 30 November, in the
We got our first council house in Highcliffe 40 years ago. Since then we’ve lived in Stanmore, Octavia Hill and Andover Road. Our last home was a ground-floor flat in a Housing-21 block. What are the main concerns? Parking! What has the TARA achieved? We have arranged for a grit bin for the winter and a red bin for dog mess. We hold regular Walkabouts and parking is always the main issue! We go along to Parish Council meetings. What’s next for Compton TARA? We’re trying to sort out getting yellow lines to mark the bus stop in Attwoods Drove. We listen to tenants’ views and always see what we can do to help them. Common Room, Godson House, Lawn Street, Winchester. Please come along to support your forum.
Councillors’ support for TACT We were pleased to hear that Cllr Kelsie Learney and Cllr Lucille Thompson are on the same wave length as TACT! They told a recent council meeting they were seeking to improve Winchester’s position by requesting the national housing debt is written off and for the valuation models used by the government are revisited. Produced by Tenants for Tenants
Five Travel to Birmingham A five strong team of tenants represented Winchester at the tenant participation annual conference in Birmingham.
very interesting, for example 70% of complaints are resolved by the landlord.
Between them they attended six different workshops and heard talks from four housing organisations. Brave New World – can tenants shape the future of social housing? Hard Times – should tenantempowerment take priority when money is tight? Yes if for no other reason than we are volunteers. Great Expectations – are we asking tenants to do too much? There were very mixed feelings on this one. Making effective complaints – We learnt about the procedure and how to complain – it was
Community traditions and cultural differences – I learnt that there are more cultural and community traditions than I realised and to observe and learn from other people is a good way to network. There are 60 million people in the UK speaking 300 different languages, but only 14 different faiths. It only takes us 10 seconds to decide if we like someone!
Getting your point across – We learnt that you need to think about the words we say; the way we say them and our body language. We were also given tips about how to communicate with all sorts of people, and our first impression of people may be based on things like their dress; are they smiling; did they make eye contact. Pippa said: “The conference was a good way to network with people from all walks of life and all sorts of areas around the country. I certainly learnt a lot from the weekend and I am very lucky to have been asked to take part.” Susen added: “This was my first conference and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I met new friends and found it interesting although it was hard work!”
Great Turnout for June Conference Beryl White, joint chair of TACT, paid tribute to Alan’s commitment and said she was delighted by the success of the conference: “We wanted to widen it out, involve more tenants and encourage more to join TACT.
Members of TACT hosted one of their best annual conferences at Winchester Guildhall in June. The event attracted well over 80 people who heard speeches from TACT, the Council and the Tenant Services Authority. One notable exception was TACT joint chair Alan Rickman, who missed the day on doctors’ orders. Produced by Tenants for Tenants
“We do pride ourselves on being the best performing council for standards and involvement of tenants.” Cllr Lucille Thompson, the new Portfolio Holder for Communities, pledged that housing services should improve further over the coming years She said Winchester housing service was good and added: “Obviously there is always room for improvement. That’s what I see my role as – getting the best
possible service for the tenants with the money available.” Money was a key talking point for tenants who are waiting to hear how the coalition government will respond to a review of council house funding. Under the current system Winchester’s tenants provide a £9million subsidy to the national housing budget every year. Richard Botham, Head of Landlord Services, said: “This was the first tenants’ conference for some time. We have taken the opportunity to talk to tenants about standards and services and what is important to them on their estates. “An interesting range of issues has come forward – often it’s the little things that really matter.” page 3
What’s on …. December
Wednesday 20th TACT (Tenants and Council Together) Meeting
Tuesday 7th The Compton Tenants and Residents Association
2–4pm and 7.30–9.30pm, Godson House Common Room, Lawn Street, Winchester
The Reeves Scout Hall, Martins Fields, Compton Public Meeting and Christmas Party – 7.30pm start
Thursday 21st The Worthys Tenant and Leaseholder Association Public meeting – The Common Room, Harwood Place, off Pound Road, Kings Worthy - 7.00 pm for a 7.15pm start
November Wednesday 17th TACT Meeting
has been produced by a team including Alan Rickman, David Cruden,
7.30–9.30pm, Godson House Common Room, Lawn Street, Winchester
Public meeting and festive celebrations – The Common Room, Harwood Place, off Pound Road, Kings Worthy – 7.00 pm for a 7.15pm start
Wednesday 15th TACT Meeting
Wednesday 16th TACT Meeting 2.00–4.00pm and 7.30–9.30pm, Godson House Common Room, Lawn Street, Winchester
Thursday 17th The Worthys Tenant and Leaseholder Association Public meeting – The Common Room, Harwood Place, off Pound Road, Kings Worthy – 7.00 pm for a 7.15pm start
2.00–4.00pm and 7.30–9.30pm, Godson House Common Room, Lawn Street, Winchester
Contact the Tenant Involvement Team on Freephone 0800 716 987 for more information about the above dates.
Wednesday 24th Kings Worthy Estate Walkabout
This edition of Tenant News
Wednesday 12th TACT Joint meeting and Rent Setting
Thursday 9th The Worthys Tenant and Leaseholder Association
2.00–4.00pm and 7.30–9.30pm, Godson House, Common Room, Lawn Street, Winchester
Meet in the car park by the Springvale Post Office at 10am and finishing at 12 noon
Contact the TACT chairs Alan Rickman or Beryl White if you want to find out more about TACT or want to raise any issues. You can call them on Freephone 0800 716 987 and leave a message or write to them at: G
Alan Rickman 101 Taplings Road, Winchester, SO22 6HG
Beryl White 2 Pine Road, Bishop’s Waltham, Nr Southampton, SO23 1EH
Alternatively go to www.winchester.gov.uk/TACT
Paul Bungey, Joan Downing, Angela Stevenson and Susen Harding. page 4
Now turn the magazine over to read Produced by Tenants for Tenants
LDS00206-28993 June 2010 Produced by Winchester City Council