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Resignations, dumped cars and ‘missing money’ – what is going on at this tenant organisation?

PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:28 25 February 2020

The playground in Avondale Court, Canning Town has been closed since December 2017 due to disrepair. Picture: Hannah Somerville

The playground in Avondale Court, Canning Town has been closed since December 2017 due to disrepair. Picture: Hannah Somerville

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Council officers launched a probe into the finances at a Canning Town tenant management organisation after a string of allegations.

Almost 300 homes in Canning Town are managed by CTR Triangle TMO. Picture: Google SatelliteAlmost 300 homes in Canning Town are managed by CTR Triangle TMO. Picture: Google Satellite

Council officers launched a probe into the finances at a Canning Town tenant management organisation after a string of allegations.

Two board members at CTR Triangle, a resident-led body which looks after 291 council properties on behalf of Newham Council, resigned in November 2019.

Concerns were reported to the council in October 2019 and a new chairwoman and secretary have been drafted in.

The ex-chairwoman, Victoria Hornsby, who after her resignation admitted to a conflict of interest, told the Recorder she now wanted to see TMO's operations brought back in-house.

"It went from one extreme to another," she said. "I don't know what the hell has happened."

Two long-standing board members quit last year a month after being re-elected. Picture: Hannah SomervilleTwo long-standing board members quit last year a month after being re-elected. Picture: Hannah Somerville

The Recorder has also learned of a catalogue of allegations going back years that residents say they reported and were not dealt with appropriately.

The claims include breaches of tenancy, harassment and repairs not being carried out.

The Recorder understands that late last year an employee of the TMO was also escorted out of the offices in Hermit Road by police after an altercation on the premises.

A Newham Council spokeswoman said: "We have an ongoing role monitoring the performance of the TMO. We are aware of the issues raised and have agreed an action plan with the board for specific improvements."

For its part the TMO acknowledged there had been "some issues", adding: "We are working tirelessly as new board officers and residents to put these behind us."

The offices in Hermit Road, where an altercation reportedly took place in October. Picture: Google StreetviewThe offices in Hermit Road, where an altercation reportedly took place in October. Picture: Google Streetview

CTR Triangle was set up in 1996 by residents in Cliff Walk, Radley Terrace and Trinity Gardens and expanded to include Avondale Court.

The 13-strong board got an allowance of £272,853 from Newham Council last year for management, clearing and day-to-day repairs.

The accounts for CTR Triangle Limited for 2018/19 are yet to be made public.

But an internal summary seen by the Recorder state it made a loss of £20,871 and its reserves had dropped to less than £40,000.

The author wrote: "I am extremely worried that the TMO will run out of money."

That year £600 was spent hiring out nearby Ascot Hall in Canning Town. This was paid in full to cover the £50 monthly cost of hiring the hall over the course of a year for regular TMO committee meetings.

The then-chairwoman of CTR Triangle, Victoria Hornsby, managed for Newham Council whilst a co-owner of the company that ran it, Friends of Ascot Hall Limited.

Mrs Hornsby told the Recorder no-one told her this was a conflict of interest.

She said: "No-one said anything to me. We never had a policy or procedure in place and there's nothing in the accounts to prove I ever got a wage.

"When I was at CTR as chair, we had a breach notice from Newham Council [a formal notice stating the TMO is not adhering to its management agreement with the council] on a selection of affairs, but to my knowledge it was sorted out."

John and Nicola Collins say crimes they have reported around the estate have not been taken seriously. Picture: Hannah SomervilleJohn and Nicola Collins say crimes they have reported around the estate have not been taken seriously. Picture: Hannah Somerville

"At one stage a board member said £42,000 was missing from the bank account, but the accountant said there was nothing missing.

"We could have done with a hell of a lot more support. At the end of the day I'd like to see the whole thing go back in-house."

CTR Triangle is the last tenant management organisation (TMO) left in Newham. The Carpenters TMO was shut down in late 2015 after falling into dire financial straits.

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CTR Triangle's income has dropped dramatically in recent years; council accounts state it had a cash budget of £1.8million in 2016/17.

The Collinses have had special schemes put on their home by the Met Police. Picture: Hannah SomervilleThe Collinses have had special schemes put on their home by the Met Police. Picture: Hannah Somerville

Ex-board member Balwant Channa, who left in 2017 prior to the recent upheavals, added: "I never saw the finances. They never used to look after the buildings at all in my opinion. I left in frustration."

CTR said in December 2019, after the resignations, a number of residents had come together "to keep CTR Triangle TMO a 'community friendly' organisation which it always has been.

But they added that some issues were ongoing and they could not comment further. The next annual general meeting for residents across the estate is on February 26.

The Newham Council spokeswoman added: "We fully support community-led housing but our priority is that all residents receive a good quality housing service and we will continue to monitor closely to ensure their action plan is fully implemented."

Residents have reported protracted waits for repairs in Avondale Court. Pictures: Hannah Somerville/SubmittedResidents have reported protracted waits for repairs in Avondale Court. Pictures: Hannah Somerville/Submitted

Residents plan to take ongoing grievances to court

Two Avondale Court tenants, John and Nicola Collins, are seeking private prosecutions against a number of individuals because of how they say they have been treated.

In February 2019 ex-CTR Triangle secretary Peter Loveday was convicted of a racially-aggravated public order offence at Stratford Magistrates Court.

He was subject to a restraining order barring him from contact with Nicola that lasts until February 2021.

The TMO receives hundreds of thousands of pounds a year from Newham Council. Picture: Hannah SomervilleThe TMO receives hundreds of thousands of pounds a year from Newham Council. Picture: Hannah Somerville

Mr Loveday also abandoned two cars on Newham Council-owned land in front of Avondale Court while he was a board member.

They were reported and monitored for more than a year before one was impounded.

As a result the council decided to make the space part of the public highway in 2017.

Mr Loveday told the Recorder he understood the area was "no man's land" and said he had resigned in March 2018, although he signed off on the September 2018 accounts and had been listed as a board member in CTR Triangle's September newsletter.

He said: "I've not been on the board. I know a couple of people resigned but for what reason I don't know. It used to run smoothly; there were never any complaints."

The Collins' say that they have fallen victim to other crime since then and have in recent months reported 11 incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour around Avondale Court to the Metropolitan Police.

They have had special schemes put on their home by the Met, meaning all calls should require an immediate response.

But they say that in every instance, no further action has been taken on reports they made.

Nicola Collins said: "We've both been the victim and we now need to move out because of the abuse. We feel our suffering has been ignored."

The Met's Professional Standards Unit said it was investigating 17 separate complaints from three members of the public related to crime reports in the E16 area.

The Collinses have also been waiting for repairs to their damp-ridden property since 2017. CTR has a contractor, Pinnacle, which carries out day-to-day repairs, but anything over the value of £3,000 is undertaken by Newham Council.

In 2018 Newham Council signed a legal memorandum to fix the dry lining in the property and repair the windows and pay the Collinses £3,000 in damages. But the work has still not been completed.

The playground outside Avondale Court has also been closed for years due to ongoing disrepair.

Tenants in other blocks also reported long waits for repairs to their homes.

One woman in Trinity Gardens, who asked not to be named, said: "Things have not been going well. The council is right to be investigating and I hope they take it over; I don't think they know what they are doing."


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