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Old Ford Resident Consultation

Share your views – Becoming part of a new Housing Association.

Dear resident,

The Old Ford Housing Association Board, which is made up of local residents and independent members, has spent the last seven months considering who our future landlord should be, following the merger last year between Circle Housing Group and Affinity Sutton to form Clarion Housing Group.

These discussions were triggered, in part, by the very poor 
repairs and other services that we had received from Circle Housing.

In our examination of the options for Old Ford, we have paid particular attention to the following five questions:

  • Overall, what will be in the best long term interests of residents?
  • What are the risks of changing to another landlord?
  • Can we raise sufficient money to stand on our own?
  • How well is our new landlord, Clarion, providing services?
  • What opportunities does each option offer for resident involvement?
Our conclusions on the options were:

1. Could we become an independent Housing Association?

We decided this was not financially viable. It would be very difficult to raise enough money from banks and other financial organisations to become independent.

2. Could we return to the Council as our landlord?

Given public spending reductions and other demands on its resources the Council doesn’t have the resources to buy back and where necessary improve the stock so this is not currently an option.

3. Should we merge with another local Housing Association?

Merging with another housing association would put at risk improvements to the service and would require serious borrowing by a local housing association.

4. Should we agree to stay with Clarion Housing Group 

Clarion is working hard to improve the repairs and maintenance services to Old Ford residents and has short, medium and long term plans in place to ensure tenants receive consistently good services. In addition Clarion has agreed to carry out the Old Ford promises; increase further investment in existing properties and new homes locally and to set up a new Community Panel to involve residents in decision-making. This will include regular meetings to look at local performance; playing a role in deciding on when and where community and neighbourhood investment activities should take place; advising Clarion on local priorities; undertake scrutiny activities and involvement in the way local services are designed.

After lengthy discussion the Board feels that the Old Ford Housing Association should remain with the Clarion Housing Group and that they should merge. This will not affect your tenancy terms or the rent you pay.

The Board is confident that the merger is the best way to improve services. We have seen recent evidence of this in the way that call handling has improved and the way in which complaints are now being handled and resolved in a timely manner. The Board also considers that Clarion would be best placed to deliver a directly employed repairs service if residents want. They have experience of this working well within their existing homes.

The Board will make our final decision at our November meeting. To help us decide, we want to hear your views.

An independent residents’ advisor, Communities First, has been appointed to talk to as many Old Ford tenants as possible during a six week consultation. As soon as it has finished, they will report your views to the Board so that we can take them into account.

This booklet explains how you can have your say. Please do take this opportunity to tell us what you think about the proposal.

Stephen Jacobs, OBE
Chair, Old Ford

Who are Clarion Housing Group and what are they proposing?

Clarion Housing Group was formed following the merger of Affinity Sutton Group and Circle Housing Group in November 2016. You may recall that you were consulted about the merger in April last year as Old Ford was part of Circle Housing Group. Following the merger, Clarion has the resources required to deliver improvements to the repairs services and to invest more into improving residents’ homes, neighbourhoods and communities.

Clarion is now proposing to form a single organisation called Clarion Housing Association. This will be a Charitable Housing Provider regulated by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). The aim is to bring all the housing associations within the group, including Old Ford, into one to simplify things and make it easier to deliver good services to our residents – no matter where you live.

Why should Old Ford become part of Clarion Housing Association?

The Board believes there are six key benefits for Old Ford residents in becoming part of Clarion Housing Association.

These are:
  1. Investment in improving and maintaining homes
  2. Opportunities for resident involvement including creating a Community Panel
  3. An expanded training and employment programme
  4. Attractive and inclusive communities
  5. Services to help with money management and digital skills
  6. New homes and regeneration programmes

What’s changed since Circle Housing Group became part of Clarion Housing Group?

In December 2016 the regulator identified service failures affecting Circle Housing residents in parts of London including Old Ford. Clarion has taken urgent steps to address these failures.

The Board know there were many problems and legacy issues and Clarion is determined to transform the way services are delivered. There’s much more work to do however you may have already noticed some service improvements already, including:

Call handling
Residents are finding it easier to call and get their problems resolved.

Gas servicing
New gas contractors have been appointed in Tower Hamlets and Havering as well as 20 other London boroughs.

Face to face contact
Clarion staff have been meeting residents with door knocking sessions across Tower Hamlets and public events for residents in Havering.

In addition Clarion has been working hard to tackle the issues at Orchard Village and to deliver on the promises made by Circle Housing to residents across the Parkside Estates.

There is much more to do but the Board believe that Clarion is committed to delivering a good service and on balance it is now the right time for Old Ford to become part of the new Clarion Housing Association.

Clarion and Orchard Village

Good progress has been made on putting the issues at the Orchard Village right since Clarion took ownership of it. An independent surveyor was immediately appointed to undertake comprehensive surveys so that the extent of the issues could be fully understood and, most importantly, what would need to be done to put them right. Clarion is working closely with the build contractor Willmott Dixon, which has a number of operatives and equipment on site in order to complete the remedial works and give people the quality homes they were promised.

Clarion and Parkside

The Parkside Major Works project is in the last stages of Phase I. External and internal communal decorations, roof repairs, window overhauls, walkway repairs, mechanical works and electrical upgrades have now been carried out at St Stephens Road, Butley Court, Jossiline Court, Ranwell Close, Wilmer House, Ingram House and Lakeview. The final electrical upgrades at Sandall House have started and internal communal redecorations will follow.

Work on Phase II has commenced. This is mainly environmental works across the Parkside estates - including soft landscaping, renewal/repair of fences, roads and paving, installation of new bin stores, demolition of St Stephens Road garages, re-establishing the Ollerton Green underground car park and repairs at Sturdy House underground car park.

Will there be opportunities for residents to get involved?

Yes there will be lots of opportunities for residents to get involved. Clarion will create an Old Ford Community Panel, which will include tenants and be responsible for overseeing Clarion’s local performance in Tower Hamlets, undertaking scrutiny activities and helping shape local services. The Panel will also help decide where Clarion’s community and neighbourhood investment funds can best benefit local initiatives. If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Community Panel, please speak to a member of your local housing staff.

Residents will also have opportunities to get involved with a new North London Scrutiny Committee and more details on this will follow.

Share your views

The consultation on becoming part of a new housing association will last for six weeks from midday on Friday 13 October until midday on Friday 24 November 2017.

To make sure as many residents as possible share your views an independent organisation, Communities First, has been appointed to act as an independent advisor.

Communities First is a charity that specialises inhousing consultations with tenants. As well as sharing your views with Communities First you will also be able to ask them questions.

To share your views please contact:

Here are a few answers to some of the key questions you might have