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'They're fed up': Nova House residents hold talks over on-going problems

Reporter:

James Hockaday

3

Frustrated residents of a block of private flats in the town centre met Slough Borough Council’s deputy leader on Saturday to discuss a range of problems.

Peter Bothwell, 57, and five other residents of Nova House, in Buckingham Gardens, spoke to Cllr Sabia Hussain (Lab, Central).

Mr Bothwell has concerns over the building’s cladding, which failed a safety test on Friday, June 30. He has also complained about the hot water system, which he says has failed to function properly 20 times in the past 21 months.

The UNITE union representative says his allocated car parking space was changed to one which had an abandoned car left in it and he had to persuade property managers Ringley Group not to fine him for using another space.

The building’s fire escape is the carpeted main stairwell and a gym, which was advertised in 2015 when the property first opened, was never built, he said.

“The tenants just want to live in a nice environment, and a happy and safe environment,” he added.

He said some tenants have already said they are leaving after the cladding test failed.

“They’ve had enough. They already wanted to leave; they’re concerned about their safety. They’re fed up.”

Following Saturday’s meeting, Cllr Hussain has promised to do whatever she can to support the tenants.

The councillor criticised the Ringley Group for lack of communication with tenants.

Richard Vennables, 53, whose mother Rita Pell owns Mr Bothwell’s flat, also claims landlords are being overcharged for hot water.

He says they are being charged fees by both Thames Water and by Data Energy, which owns the communal tank which supplies hot water to the office-to-residential site.

But Mr Vennables says Thames Water says it is unable to fix problems with the water system.

He and Mr Bothwell say Ringley has asked owners to contact them instead of Thames Water when the water system breaks down, claiming that contacting Thames Water would be in breach of the property lease.

In response, Ringley Group director Mary-Anne Bowring said she was unable to comment on the design of the heating and hot water system but said it had been signed off by the relevant authorities.

She said building regulations did not prohibit fire escapes being carpeted and said Ringley had never seen any suggestion of a gym being built at Nova House. She advised residents to take the matter up with the developer if they felt they had been misled.

She added the abandoned car was due to be removed by today (Friday) and said it was misleading to suggest it was difficult to maintain communication with Ringley.

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  • leah.weeks

    14:02, 14 July 2017

    Part 3 of 3: The car was reported to CPM the parking monitoring company at the end of April once we were notified. We applied to the DVLA for the ownership details and received this mid May. In accordance with law we were then required to serve notice of intended removal and wait until 28 days expired. This expired mid June. Removal of the car was booked with CPM and we await their next attendance in the area with a lift and load lorry. The matter is at complaint level with CPM due to the delay. We are promised the car will be removed by CPM by Friday 14th July latest. Ringley have sent a total of 5 updates at various stages since the Grenfell Tower tragedy. These have been sent to the developer, freeholder, every leaseholder and every sub-tenant we are aware of. Landlords, they have a duty to pass the information on to both their agents and any tenant(s) irrespective of whether the Landlord is a UK resident or overseas investor. On behalf of Ringley Limited. Leah Weeks, Client Engagement Manager

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  • leah.weeks

    14:02, 14 July 2017

    Part 2 of 3 We cannot comment on what information the developer gave owners in respect of their HIU's. Operation and maintenance manuals are however available online for Residents and Ringley have advised owners that like all equipment, servicing is recommended. All Property Manager contact details such as phone numbers and extensions are on all of our emails. We provide regular updates to Nova House throughout the year on relevant issues. Specifically we have dealt with hundreds of emails and phonecalls from a few Residents at Nova House so we find your statement misleading and inaccurate. Current building regulations do not prohibit fire escapes from being carpeted. At Ringley, we have never seen any drawings suggesting there would be a gym at Nova House. If an owner feels that they were mis-represented to during the buying process this is a matter of contract their Solicitor should take up with the developer. A Managing Agent get to manage what is built. See Part 3:

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  • leah.weeks

    14:02, 14 July 2017

    Response Part 1 of 3 We are unable to comment on the design of the heating and hot water system which was designed, installed and commissioned by the developer for 68 flats new. The system was signed off by all relevant authorities during the build. As with all communal heating systems it took the developer some time to get the system in balance until full load (when all flats were occupied). The amount of water used and charge for as broken down between 68 units is well below the OFWAT typical rates per dwelling measure. The service charge pays for the running of the heating system. Data Energy do not own any equipment on site, nor do they supply water. They are a utility billing company and bill residents for their consumption based on their usage. Thames Water provide clean water and remove foul water. Data Energy are a heat/hot water billing company not a water supplier. Under the leases each owner is responsible for all pipework and equipment which serves exclusively their property. This includes their Heating Interface Unit (HIU). It is for the owner to put in place a maintenance contract for their HIU, in the same way they may do for any other appliance in their property that needs servicing. We cannot comment on what information the developer gave owners in respect of their HIU's. Operation and maintenance manuals are however available online for Residents and Ringley have advised owners that like all equipment, servicing is recommended. See Part 2:

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