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Residents Campaign Claims Victory

Bryn Rheidol Housing AberystwythA plan by Tai Ceredigion to replace windows and insulation in their Bryn Rheidol properties has been dropped.

After the plans were announced, local residents were up in arms over a project which could have seen a rise in their service charges.

As such they formed the Brynrheidol Leaseholders Association to fight the proposals.




At a time when many organisations are cutting back on costs and fighting against waste it emerged that the windows on the Bryn Rheidol estate were only previously replaced 18 months ago, at a cost of around £60,000.


The proposed new external insulation would have seen the size of the property walls increased, which would have meant that the recently fitted windows would have been to big, hence the need to replace them again.


However, the proposed changes were put forward in order to make the properties more energy efficient, and could have led to lower energy bills for residents, although this may have been outweighed by rise in servicing costs.

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16 Responses to “Residents Campaign Claims Victory”

  • Steve Jones says:

    In the interest of balance, here is Tai Cereidgion’s press release on this subject.
    Thanks, Steve Jones, Chief Executive, Tai Ceredigion.

    Press response – Brynrheidol Leaseholders Issues
    1 November 2010

    Tai Ceredigion has announced that it plans to ask the Welsh Assembly Government’s consent to switch ARBED energy efficiency grant funding that it had previously secured for the Brynrheidol estate in Aberystwyth. Instead, the funds will assist the housing association’s tenants in the Tregaron and Uplands area.

    This move follows campaigning from leaseholders on the Brynrheidol estate, who objected to subsidised energy efficiency improvements to their homes. Tai Ceredigion had earlier secured WAG energy efficiency funding for the Brynrheidol estate to improve the living conditions of its tenants and leaseholders, as well as the overall external appearance of the estate.

    The change will unfortunately now mean that Brynrheidol tenants of ground floor flats (located underneath the leaseholder’s maisonettes) will have to put up with damp and condensation problems for longer. The planned works will now have to be redesigned and rescheduled to a later date. However, the tenants’ homes, and the associated planned external estate improvements, will still be completed before the Welsh Assembly Government’s deadline to meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standard in December 2015.

    This decision will not affect the proposed energy efficiency and estate improvements recently announced for the nearby Pen Y Bont flats in Aberystwyth, where works on site are about to commence.

    Commenting, Tai Ceredigion’s Chief Executive, Steve Jones said:

    “This is a very unfortunate decision but, due to the unwillingness of some affected leaseholders on the Brynrheidol estate, we have had to postpone the improvements project.

    Ironically this is a missed opportunity for the leaseholders who could have seen added value to their properties at a reduced cost. We will still need to tackle rubble filled cavity walls and patchy cavity insulation within the next four years, but there is no guarantee that future grant funding will be available. So potentially, it could cost leaseholders more eventually.

    More importantly perhaps, this postponement will have a detrimental effect on Tai Ceredigion’s tenants who are living in these properties which have damp and condensation problems and are costly to heat. However, we promise to work with them to try to reduce these problems through other interim measures. We will also consider letting any future vacant flats only as short term emergency accommodation lets, so that we can carry out some of the internal insulation works in between tenancies.”

    But it will be good news for some Tai Ceredigion tenants in hard to heat rural homes. Tai Ceredigion is requesting that the Welsh Assembly Government switches available energy efficiency funding from the ARBED scheme from Brynrheidol to homes in Pontrhydfendigaid. These will now be fitted not only with air or ground source heat pumps, and electricity saving solar panels, but also with external wall insulation switched from Brynrheidol, bringing a full package of much needed affordable warmth to Tai Ceredigion’s rural housing.”

    ENDS

    Editors Notes
    In edition to the general background information below, and in response to some of the allegations made by some of the leaseholders on Brynrheidol estate, the following facts may be of use:
     Ceredigion County Council formerly consulted all leaseholders prior to the stock transfer ballot, including letters, leaflets and organised meetings and presentations.
     Tai Ceredigion has previously consulted all leaseholders about how they wish to be consulted, and has offered to facilitate a county wide leaseholder forum.
     Tai Ceredigion has complied with all its legal obligations as freeholder, at every stage of the consultation process regarding proposed future improvements
     Tai Ceredigion held an open day to consult tenants and leaseholders on the proposed improvements on 10th August 2010.

    For further information about Tai Ceredigion please contact Kate Williams, PR Account Manager on 07786 550054 / 01970 636408 or kate@fbagroup.co.uk.
    1. Tai Ceredigion is the new, locally-based, not-for-profit housing association that will work in close partnership with the council and other partners operating in the area to help meet the needs of Ceredigion’s tenants, residents and leaseholders.
    2. Tai Ceredigion has 2229 rented homes and 140 leasehold dwellings that were previously owned and maintained by Ceredigion Council. These homes all need maintaining and to be brought up to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard by December 2015.
    3. New Welsh Assembly Government funding and investment by Barclays Bank means that some £136 million is available for Tai Ceredigion’s 30 year business plan. Previously councils were very restricted in their ability to borrow money for housing and budgets were ring fenced.
    4. Tai Ceredigion has charitable status, ensuring that more income can be ploughed back into improving tenants’ homes and running the housing service.
    5. The transfer was approved by the majority of tenants that voted and unlocks a huge increase in available funds for planned maintenance, property improvements and in the longer term new-build homes for local people.
    6. Tai Ceredigion plans to spend up to £40m in the next five years on improvements and has begun to consult with tenants and leaseholders on the delivery of this programme.

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  • EverythingAberystwyth.co.uk says:

    Thanks for your comments Steve,

    It was interesting to hear the story from both sides, and your contribution is appreciated.

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  • E A Slater says:

    Mrs E A Slater

    16 Nov 2010

    Dear eyerythingaberystwyth.co.uk

    I am writing to you today to introduce myself as one of your Tai Ceredigion leasehoiders.

    I became a tenant at 66 Brynrheidol over 30 years ago and was delighted to become a homeowner, buying the lease on my property, Which Prime minister Margart Thatcher gave us the oppertunity to the right to buy, providing a secure and affordable home for my family. I am now a retired widow in my seventies trying to enjoy the comfort and security of my home where I have been happy for so long.

    I am also writing to you today as I desperately feel the need to bring your attention to the anxiety and worry that Tai Ceredigions’ plans for Brynrheidol Estate in Llanbadarn Fawr are causing me. We have been informed that all the upvc double glazed windows and doors also the roofs will be replaced as well as fascias and rainwater goods.

    All upvc double glazed windows and doors on the Brynrheidol Estate were replaced by Ceredigion County Council to bring the stock upto the welsh housing quality standard just before the stock was freely transferred to Tai Ceredigion. The current fascias and rainwater goods are also just a few years old. Also dry cavity wall insulation has been install in the later part of 1989

    As a leaseholder I was granted permission by Ceredigion County Council to replace my own upvc doors and windows and fascias which I have done at my own retired saving, in very recent years. We have also been informed that compieteiy unnecessary purely cosmetic work is to be carried out in the form of 4ins cladding being added to the outside of the properties.

    I must ask you; have the Welsh Assembly have gone completely mad who has granted Tal Ceredigion £40 million over the next 5 years to bring their stock up to the Welsh Quality Standard got money to burn? In the current economic cilmate very much doubt it! This is an outrageous waste of public money This work is a completely unnecessary expenditure that i and other leaseholders are being demanded to pay for in the form of our reviewed service charges.

    As leasehoiders we were not pre-warned neither consulted about how the money was going to be used on our properties, we didn’t even get a vote on the free stock transfer and yet we are being penalised and victimised now for payment for unnecessary work!

    Mr Steve jones, chief Executive at Tai ceredigion is on verbal record as saying that £12,000 Will be the cost to each leaseholder !

    How is this fair of a ‘not-for-profit housing association’ who are providers of affordable social housing to be making such demands?

    This will cause me an incredible amount of financial hardship and brings up all sorts of questions in the middle of the night. What will happen if i can’t make the payments? Will they take me to court? Will I lose my home?

    I am fearful for the future of my home, I have written to you today as no one else seems to be listening yet.

    I trust that you will take the time to look into these matters and I hope to hear from you soon. As i cannot trust the Cardiff Welsh Assembly and Tai Ceredigion anymore.

    Mrs E A Slater

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  • Geoffrey Slaughter says:

    Residents ‘in the dark’
    Thanks to AM Nick Bourne in this weeks Cambrian News Thursday 18 of November 2010.
    What concerns him the most is the lack of consultation with the leaseholders and tenants on the Brynrheidol est.

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  • EverythingAberystwyth.co.uk says:

    Mrs Slaters concerns have been put directly to Steve Jones at Tai Ceredigion by EverythingAberystwyth.co.uk and we are awaiting his response

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  • Paula Powell says:

    Dear Everythingaberystwyth.co.uk

    I too am a Leaseholder on the Brynrheidol Estate. The latest development in this fiasco is that the “plans” have not been scrapped but merely delayed. All Brynrheidol Leaseholders have now received a letter from Eleri Jenkins Tai Ceredigion’s Director of Housing and Support; to inform them that the work will be completed before the Welsh Quality Housing Standard deadline in 2015 and at todays costs the Service Charges are standing at £16,000 plus.

    The Welsh Assembly, as well as National Government Policies to combat “Climate Change” has generated a new industry. The Green Energy campaign. The Energy Industry are required to input millions into a central energy fund which is then being distrubuted to every householder in the country by grants.

    Social Housing Tenants will receive this directly at no cost by improvemnets provided by their RSL. Freeholders by applying for grants or making use of the commercial insulation grants etc. Brynrheidol Leaseholders do not fit into either and are being penalised by the extortionate costs.

    We appear to have no choice in what Tai Ceredigion is intent to do. They say that they are being reasonable and can charge leaseholders for these costly works and that we are being unreasonable for campaigning against it. Letters from Tai Ceredigion have been sent out to Brynrheidol Social Tenants implying that our actions are making them live longer in damp conditions. It may be a surprise to Tai Ceredgion but the tenants are just as angry and want their kitchens and bathrooms brought up to the Welsh Quality Housing Standard and not having their new windows replaced unnecessarily as their flats are warm and cosy.

    One of Steve Jones, Chief Exceutive Tai Ceredigion interests is the new microgeneration technology that this retrofit external cladding comes under. The count is still out on its feasability and a recent survey in Sunderland presented to the Government raised doubts on the cost effectiveness.

    Tai Ceredigion has chosen the most expensive unproven option which Leaseholders will be burden with and if unable to pay will lose their homes as Steve Jones implyed to Leaseholders at a recent meeting.

    We are fighting for common sense to be applied in this economic climate when drastic cutbacks are being made in all other areas, instead of this draconian attitude by the new Registered Social Landlord.

    Yours faithfully

    Paula Powell

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  • Steve Jones says:

    As Tai Ceredigion has recently sent a detailed letter to all of the Brynrheidol leaseholders, responding to a number of legal questions about this issue, it would not be appropriate to repeat the detail here. In addition, I have prepared a seperate response to Mrs Slater’s letter published above, which has been sent to her today, and which includes an offer to meet with Mrs Slater to reassure her of Tai Ceredigion’s future plans.

    On a general factual note, both Ceredigion County Council and Tai Ceredigion held consultation meetings and presentations with leaseholders as well as tenants prior to the stock transfer taking place. Individual and collective consultation has also taken place since the stock was transferred, in addition to the formal legal consultation process having been followed. An independent consultant was employed by the Council (as required by the Welsh Assembly Government) prior to the transfer, to offer independent advice to tenants and leaseholders about forming local and county wide associations and how to engage with their new landlord/freeholder. A number of local and regional groups have been formed as a result of this good practice. Leaseholders who attended those forum meetings expressed the wish that consultation take place on a scheme by scheme basis, and we have honoured that wish by doing so to date.

    Tai Ceredigion’s Directors and Senior Managers held an open leaseholders forum last month, following our Tenants Conference. I was pleased that a number of Brynrheidol leaseholders attended the meeting and I have agreed to meet with the new Brynrheidol Leaseholders Association on a monthly basis, as I do with the Tenants Monitoring Group, to discuss the future works planned for the estate. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to respond publically to Paula Powell’s comments above, prior to the next meeting with the leaseholders association. I have offered to invite an independent expert from the Building Research Establishment to a meeting with the Leaseholders Association, so that leaseholders can ask their professional opinion on the building issues which exist on the estate. Tai Ceredigion has also offered to arrange and to pay for the independent consultant to spend some time with this new association to assist them with setting up a proper constitution etc and to advise them about how housing associations in Wales work. The consultant has recently worked with our sheltered housing tenants to assist them to set up a sheltered housing tenants forum.

    I believe that Tai Ceredigion has acted as a responsible registered social landlord, and I look forward to working closely with the elected officers of the newly formed Brynrheidal Leasehodlers Association in reviewing the problems on the estate and jointly developing revised plans for future works.

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  • EverythingAberystwyth.co.uk says:

    Many thanks for your reply Steve,

    Your help on this matter is very much appreciated.

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  • Mrs E A Slater says:

    Thanks to Steve Jones of Tai Ceredigion.

    Service Charge for leaseholders of Brynrheidol est

    Leaseholder Grass cutting £260
    Leaseholder Management Services £ 39
    Total £299

    Freeholder Bill £0.00
    Tenant’s Bill £0.00

    What Grass and what Services, Mr Steve jones is hell bent on scewing the pensioner’s money out of the leaseholders, Money we havent got to spare, This is victimisation on the leaseholders where the tenant’s and freeholders dont pay.

    Yours Mrs E A Slater

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  • David Hawksworth says:

    Dear Sir / Madam

    I am the partner of Julie Thomas, one of the effected leaseholders on the estate. Mr Jones, i am quite sure, is well aware of Myself and Julie.

    I would like Mr Jones to respond to a number of my questions as stated below:

    1) The “Welsh Housing Quality Standard” repeatedly and specifically refers to “Social Housing Tennants” – Julie Thomas is not a “Social Housing Tennant” she is a private resident who has purchased the lease on her property as are all the other affected leaseholders. With this in mind and considering that the WHQS at no point EVER makes reference to “Leaseholders” how does Mr Jones beleive his organisation has the justification to “Force” costly improvement works on “private citizens” using the WHQS as the reason?

    2) Having examined the WHQS in detail I have determined that Julie’s property passes all the relevant requirements to exceed the minimum standard under the WHQS. Mysekf and Julie know this to be the case as the property has TWICE within the past 12months been subject to FULL HOMEBUYERS SURVEYS conducted by the 2 previous prospective purchasers neither of which identified ANY problems with the exterior, structure of the building or its suitabilty or functionality as a dwelling. A STRUCTURAL ENGINEER has also assessed the property in the last 12 months and has stated that there are no defects to report. With this in mind and considering that TAI CEREDIGION have NEVER surveyed the property, will STEVE JONES admit that this property (specifically and independently of other properties of its type)does not require improvement in the near future?

    I am personally concerned with Julie’s property but i am sure that if similar surveys were conducted on the other properties that are leasehold the same would apply but i can formally comment only on Julies.

    Can STEVE JONES not start acting fairly and agree to assess the properties individualy in a fair and consistent manner?

    I await his response.

    David Hawksworth
    C/O Julie Thomas, Brynrheidol, Aberystwyth.

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  • Brynrheidol says:

    Readers may be interested to know that there is now an independent website blog representing the views of Brynrheidol residents, just go to brynrheidol.blogspot.com

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  • Ken James says:

    The Wolf At Our Door

    So good of Steve Jones of Tai Ceredigion to give us his handy hints on keeping the wolf from the door in these hard times (Cambrian News December 16). Perhaps next week he could tell us why it is that he is so determined to rob me of my home in Brynrheidol by charging me £20,000 for ‘improvements’ I do not want or need and which he knows full well that I cannot possibly pay.

    As chief executive of Tai Ceredigion Steve Jones is obliged to bring his social housing stock up to Welsh Housing Quality Standard, but I own the lease to my house and it has cavity wall insulation guaranteed until 2020 so perhaps when has finished turning his thermostat down a notch or two he could also tell us why he is refusing to release the certificate of guarantee and other information relating to my cavity wall insulation.

    The leaseholders in Brynrheidol are the victims of an unbelievably cycnical ploy by Tai Ceredigion to extract £240,000 from them and then repossess their homes under the pretence of bringing them up to an insulation standard which does not apply to them and which they already meet.

    Perhaps next week he could also tell us why he has been so severely criticised in the press and in writing for his “heavy handed arrogant behaviour” by Nick Bourne AM, leader of the opposition in Cardiff and now by Mark Wiliiams our MP, and why he has so far refused to reply to Nick Bourne’s freedom of information request.

    Ken James, age 80

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  • Brynrheidol says:

    Brynrheidol Fact Sheet: January 2011

    Leaseholders in Brynrheidol, Aberystwyth have been put in an intolerable position by their landlord Tai Ceredigion which can only result in them losing all or part of their homes and they feel enormously intimidated, anxious and vulnerable as a result.
    Tai Ceredigion…

    * are seeking to forcibly repossess tenants homes by insisting they pay huge service charges (£20,0000+) for capital works for thermal insulation they do not need or want
    * have not produced any evidence that their houses which already have cavity wall insulation do not already meet Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) for thermal insulation
    * are refusing to release documents and details of the existing cavity wall insulation which is guaranteed until 2020
    * have never been to Brynrheidol to talk to the residents or ask them what they think or want
    * have been severely criticized in the press and in writing by Nick Bourne AM leader of the opposition in Cardiff for ‘demonstrating an extremely high handed arrogant unprofessional and bullying attitude’
    * have been criticized by Mark Williams MP for failing to consult with their tenants
    * have failed to supply any written documentation whatsoever relating to the planned works
    * have refused to reply to Nick Bourne AM’s freedom of Information request of November 9 2010
    * have refused to reply to Brynrheidol Leaseholders Association letter of October 12 2010 requesting information about the project
    * have refused to reply to Brynrheidol leaseholders letter of September 22 2010 rejecting their proposals
    * are ignoring the fact that have no alternative but to insulate the ground floor social housing flats on the inside – because they are partly underground – yet are insisting on insulating the long leasehold maisonettes above on the outside
    * are claiming that the buildings suffer from penetrating damp but have failed to produce any evidence atall
    * have done only the briefest spot survey of 4 of the 34 buildings concerned and have not released the results
    * said to a tenant on the phone “you’ve had it cheap, now it’s time to pay”
    * said to a tenant on the phone “take us to the Valuation Tribunal – you’ll lose and then you’ll have to pay our expenses as well”
    * said at a public meeting “the delay will give us time to establish our legal position so we’ll be able to force our way into your homes”

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  • Steve Jones says:

    I have written to Mrs Slater, as stated above, and have no intention of making any further public comments on either Mrs Slater or any other leaseholder’s commments at the present time. I am happy to respond to personal letters, and, contrary to the defamatory remarks posted here and elsewhere, I do reply to letters. I still await a reply and suggested meeting dates from the Bryn Rheidol Leaseholders Association following my offer to hold regular meetings with elected officers of the Association in November 2010. I wrote a comprehensive letter to Mr Bourne AM, following his unfair and unfounded public criticism of Tai Ceredigion before waiting for my reply to his questions, and I have not had any reply from him and neither has he responded to my offer of a meeting with him. Tai Ceredigion has not received any Freedom of Information Act request from Mr Bourne AM to my knowledge. I also gave a comprehensive reply to enquiries from the Deputy Minister’s office, who has, I understand, also written to Mr Bourne. I am not aware of any criticism of Tai Ceredigion from Mark Williams MP, with whom Tai Ceredigion has a constructive relationship. Equally I have discussed the Bryn Rheidol estate problems with Elin Jones AM, with whom we have an equally constructive relationship, and there was no criticism of Tai Ceredigion during my meeting with Elin Jones.

    Today, I have been discussing arrangements for a series of future resident consultation meetings to bring tenants, leaseholders and freehold owners living on the estate together to discuss the physical and design problems on the estate, and to consult on proposals to remedy them. An information leaflet will be sent out to all residents by the end of this month, giving notice of the proposed meeting, which will be open to all residents on the estate. In my personal view, that is a more productive use of my time than responding to repeated scaremongering, misquotes, and misleading information.
    Steve Jones, Chief Executive, Tai Ceredigion Cyf.

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  • Brynrheidol owner says:

    Thanks to you leaseholders telling everyone about you petty little sqabble my estate agent has told me that I have no chance of selling my house – thanks a bunch! Did you not stop for one minute to think about the effect your press stories and winging would have on our property values? Its bad enough that the Council dumped loads of undesirables in the flats underneath you, and now you go and advertise the fact that there is a dispute with the housing association, that owns all the roads etc. Well I hope Mr Hawksworth and co you are satisfied now we will all have to stay put for years to come whilst all of the building works go on. Please, take your silly website down, grow up a bit, and keep your opinions to yourselves, so that we have some chance of selling our houses in the next 100 years!

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  • David Hawksworth says:

    With reference to the coments made by “Brynrheidol Owner” – may i simply respond with the following: I do not have(and never had) anything to do with any website. Any dispute was with Tai Ceredigion as an organisation and never with any individual person. My comments if reviewed are simply valid queries directed at the organisation. I do not appreciate comments directed at me in person and by name, particualrly as they are comlpetely inaccurate and additionally as the person making them felt the need to withhold their name! In future may i ask that anyone wishing to critcise me personally is decent enough to GET THEIR FACTS STRAIGHT FIRST and perhaps would be kind enough to put their name to their comments! I will make no further comments on this or any other public forum regarding the situation with Tai Ceredigion as it is clear that reasoned discussion and argument is beyond the capability of certain other contributors. As a result and in the interests of future harmony I would offer the advice that everyone else do the same!

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