The consultation process
Between 2011 and 2014 City West Homes, who manage the my block and several others affected by the works, organised at least two public meetings about the works. They were not very well attended. I learned that residents would be consulted about the colour scheme in the stairwell. A neighbour of mine tried to get involved.
About City West Homes
City West Homes (CWH) claim to be ‘the leading provider of housing management services, maintaining and improving homes across Westminster’. They are member of Business in the Community whose members ‘work together to tackle a wide range of issues that are essential to building a fairer society and a more sustainable future‘. CWH also have a Gold Investors in People (IIP) award. The Investors in People awards are reputed to be hard to achieve. As this blog progresses, we will see to what extent City West Homes lives up to the IIP gold standard.
The start date for the works kept getting put back. At one point the works were supposed to begin in February 2015. This worried me because I had been told by a building surveyor that the winter weather would have an adverse effect on the refurbishment works – that the damp would mean that all the paintwork would have to be done again. When I queried this with a City West representative, he said that they had a process that got around this.
By this time the cost of my contribution had increased from £6,000.00 to £8,000.00.
First contact with Axis, the works contractor
At the end of April 2015 I received a letter from Axis, the appointed contractor.
Axis core values
Axis specialises in the improvement and maintenance of Housing, Retail and Commercial properties. According to their website, Axis has ‘five guiding principles of commitment, trust, respect, fairness and understanding between two parties; all of which are core to the Axis values. It involves building meaningful relationships less like a supplier and more like a colleague; sharing the same objectives and values which enables Axis to become an extension of the client’s team.’
I was hoping that Axis might also apply its five guiding principles to build a trusting relationship with residents. I estimate that around 100 CWH tenants and leaseholders are affected by the building works.
The letter was from the Axis resident liaison officer. She wrote to inform me that Axis needed to carry out a survey to the rear garden at my property ‘to establish the best way to for our scaffolding to be erected.’ They also wanted to inspect my property for potential repairs.
Going in circles
This surprised me because I do not have a rear garden. Secondly, I clearly remember showing someone from the CWH project team around my flat some months ago. At the request of the CWH representative I showed him what I thought needed to be done. My windows are OK but one of my window sills is cracked. To be honest I thought that CWH would have had to carry a out a pretty thorough inspection of the building order to create the tender. Axis’ request to inspect my flat made me feel that we were going round in circles.
We are pleased to let you know…
In the middle of May 2015 I received a letter from City West Homes to say that scaffolding work was due to start on 26 May 2015.
According to City West the works were scheduled to be completed by the end of July 2015. This seemed reasonable.
On 26th May when scaffolding work was due to begin, nothing happened.
About two weeks later, when the weather improved, the scaffolders arrived. This was a double whammy because we residents had been warned to keep our windows closed. Shortly afterwards Axis fitted locks to all the windows in my flat. I hunkered down with the windows firmly closed.