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Carpenters Estate tenant group resist Newham Council 'takeover'

PUBLISHED: 15:43 02 December 2015 | UPDATED: 17:23 03 December 2015

The Carpenters Estate in Stratford

The Carpenters Estate in Stratford

Archant

Members of a tenant organisation are refusing to acknowledge a council decision to dissolve their license and bring them under local authority control amid concerns over the group's solvency.

The Carpenters Tenant Management Organisation (CTMO), based at Carpenters Estate, is refusing to recognise Newham Council as its new employer and has rejected approaches from council representatives looking to take over responsibilities.

Protest action comes as members of the Stratford group claim they weren’t told about the decision to be brought under council management until the last minute. Though the council says an agreement was made in October with CTMO executives.

In an email sent out by the council to CTMO staff on Monday, seen by the Recorder, the group is warned that refusal to transfer is “in effect a resignation”. A move dubbed as “stressful” and “shocking” by a group spokeswoman.

A council spokeswoman said: “The CTMO has fallen into severe financial difficulties.

“The group has failed to produce their final accounts for the last financial year and we believe they are insolvent. This is a significant failure and indicative of an organisation in trouble.

“To protect the housing services for residents, a decision was made to end the contract with the CTMO and bring the service back into the council.”

Last year the CTMO’s annual allowance, provided by the council so it can deliver services to residents, was reduced to £365,000 with the group’s claim that it would need more than £700,000 being thrown out.

The council’s decision was upheld by an independent arbitrator earlier this year.

An investigation into the organisation was carried out in 2013 following evidence of financial irregularities. According to the council these included misues of funds, poorly audited accounts and use of non council approved contractors.

A spokeswoman also said the council had recieved “a large number of complaints” from residents from “poor and unhygienic conditions” to “security concerns with people sleeping rough on fire escapes” and telephones going unanswered.

Speaking on behalf of the CTMO, Emer Morris of campaign group Focus E15 said the council’s decision to take the centre under its control was “very undermining” and amounted to “bullying tactics”.

She said: “The CTMO were very adamant that they want to maintain the service for residents but were really upset at not being consulted at all”. The council claims consultation with staff was the responsibility of the group.

Ms Morris added: “People were feeling very stressed and unsure about their jobs but quite determined to get some just service and not give in to this takeover.”

“Newham Council know that they can’t just stop services without a massive outcry but if they just come in and slowly take over services they can keep a very close eye on what is happening on the estate.”

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