10 Sep 2007

The Forgotten Estate

I am very pleased that members of my team have helped residents of the re-built pre-fab estate (Whitehall Rd/Plummers Hill) start up their own newsletter called "The W.A.S.P"

(Whitehall Rd & Ave, Alder Drive, Sycamore Close & Plummers Hill) Because this estate has a large number of elderly and disabled residents and no warden.


This newsletter is designed for them to keep in touch with one another and share their problems, give help and advice, organise meetings, days out, and advertise useful local events and services.

Residents are taking it in turns to edit and write the newsletter, which is funded by local donations, and not influenced by the council or any politician.
One of the first questions the W.A.S.P. asked was , did anyone who signed the petition for improvements on the estate, which I handed in to the council in June, get an answer? Within a few minutes of delivering the newsletter, a resident handed us a letter from IAN CRAWLEY, Director of Housing, dated August 9th. This was the ONLY letter received by anyone as far as we know.

This letter is promising footpath improvements on Plummers Hill, Alder Drive and Whitehall Rd, as well as one of the entrances on Plummers Hill, when they have received quotes from contractors.
(As yet no work has been started.) Well, this is a start, although they have ignored the request for the lanes at Sycamore Close to be looked at, or the other two entrances on Plummers Hill!

Apparently the council are also re-acting promptly to reports of individual blocked drains on the estate, which is good news.
By far the most interesting part of the letter is the fact that the works are being organised by an estate manager for Bristol North, Andy Baynton. Mr. Baynton is based at Southmead, so we can only speculate as to why he has been put in charge? Could it have been the total lack of response from the local housing office over the last two years? Whatever the reason, things seem to be moving at last, and I am sure "The W.A.S.P." will continue to buzz around bringing news and advice and chasing the council over the many problems the residents of the re-built pre fabs are experiencing.

I am particularly pleased to see that BOVIS HOMES have agreed to use the newsletter as a way of regularly informing local people of the progress of their new estate, which will be built over the next two years.

Update 17th September 2007:
Following on from the above, we have news of a major success as a direct result of the residents petition which I presented to the council. Sycamore Close is at last having their unsafe path completely repaired and resurfaced with tarmac, after 5 years of complaining.

All the paths in the estate are to be spot repaired with concrete to make them less hazardous. The council has also promised to build proper kerb stones at an entrance to the estate from Plummers Hill to stop mud and stones washing over the path every time it rains.

They are also promising to look into the other issues raised by the petition. Indeed the director of housing Ian Crawley has stated that he will look into the background of the problems faced by residents and take a personal interest.

We hope that these promises will be kept and will be monitoring the progress or otherwise of these long awaited improvements.

Update 25th October 2007:

Success from our petition: Contractors have actually been to cost up and give the council a quote for the works on the lanes.

W.A.S.P. newsletter has commented that the residents hope that the council will look at the quotes and see that it makes more financial sense to completely renovate and not just spot repair these lanes.

The bad news is that Bovis Homes has yet to respond to recent queries regarding the recent closure of the residents vital footpath link through to Howard Avenue.

Last year Bovis Homes promised us that they would keep this access way open for the many elderly and disabled locals who rely on this shortcut to the park and shops. I hope that they are not reneging on this promise made by Alan Cook their technical services director. We are waiting to hear of their reply to W.A.S.P.

More bad news for the council tenants on the estate. The council has recently told individual tenants that council workers will no longer come out to replace their security light bulbs. They say that it is now the tenants responsibility, but no one has had anything in writing about this change in their tenancy agreements.

The security lights are over six feet up the wall and therefore virtually impossible for those who are disabled to change without help. in view of the fact that we are so concerned these days to help the elderly/disabled to live in their own homes and enjoy a secure environment, we think this is disgraceful.

As usual one step forward two steps back for the forgotten estate. As we are constantly reminding them (the council), perhaps we should rename it the forgettable/ignored estate.

Add to this the councils latest wheeze to charge these and 2,500 other similar tenants £3.50 per week for their emergency alarm system. You would be forgiven for thinking that the council would have them all just, shut up and die.