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Video: Thamesmead Homeowners' Association demonstrate on Gallions Housing Association's Sidcup doorstep
A GROUP of Thamesmead protestors brought their fight with a housing association to its doorstep with a demonstration in Sidcup.
Around 25 members of the Thamesmead Homeowners’ Association gathered outside Gallions Housing Association’s offices in Maidstone Road demanding their concerns be listened to.
Gallions owns and manages much of Thamesmead’s housing stock, requiring freehold residents to pay estate charges covering such areas as drain refurbishment and road, footpath and bridge maintenance.
Leasehold residents also have to pay service charges for the upkeep of their buildings and the THA argues bills vary considerably from year to year and Gallions does not provide adequate proof how money is spent.
Posters stuck by protestors on the sign outside the Gallions offices.
Carol Hardiman was one of the protest leaders and she told News Shopper there would be more demonstrations until the group gets the answers it is looking for.
She said: "Gallions have brought this all on themselves. We are not going to sit back and accept what they’re telling us.
"We are not going away and this is only the beginning of what we’ve got planned.
"They are not listening and all they are doing is paying us a little bit of lip service.
"The charges were introduced in 2009 and we are coming up to 2013 and we are still not being charged correctly."
Faith McKie, 41, joined protestors waving placards on Wednesday carrying a number of bills she has been sent by Gallions.
The mother-of-three says she is being charged nearly £10,000 for estate and service charges relating to a two bedroom flat in Bright Court, Byron Close, and a three bedroom house in Fieldfare Road.
The mental health nurse says she cannot possibly afford the £9,807.21 Gallions is demanding after she and her family were forced to move back into Bright Court in October.
She and her husband Samuel, who is 56 and a minicab driver, were living with children Rebecca, 21, Susan, 14, and Krystal, 5, in Fieldfare Road.
But now she says her offspring have to share just one bedroom in their flat as they couldn’t afford to remain at their three bedroom property.
Mrs McKie has a 30 day deadline from November 28 to pay £7,290.64 for ‘major works’ to the roof of Bright Court which she claims to have had no say in.
She said: "We can’t afford life anymore or to live in Thamesmead. We won’t have a Christmas because we owe so much money.
"How can you have Christmas with that bill? It is very upsetting and I seriously regret buying those properties from Gallions."
A Gallions spokesman said: “Where major works are necessary, leaseholders are informed and have the opportunity to comment on the proposals.
"Leaseholders are charged a proportion of the total costs of works that are carried out to their building in accordance with their lease provisions.
"We encourage residents to get in touch with us if they have difficulties paying either their service charges or their contribution to the costs of major works.
"In these circumstances we are flexible in terms of arranging longer term payment plans”.
Gallions board steps down
Gallions’ five board members have agreed to step down after criticism of the £397,000 redundancy package awarded to former chief executive Tony Cotter.
Regulator the Homes and Communities Agency also reprimanded the association for breaching gas safety regulations when it downgraded Galllions’ governance rating by two notches in a report in October.
Three independent board members will be replaced before Christmas and two new resident members will be appointed in the New Year.
The new board will be seeking legal advice on the size of Mr Cotter’s settlement.
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