April Newsletter 2022

We are pleased to say we were successful once again with our Small Improvement Budget (SIBs) bid earlier this year. That means we have been able to purchase several more planters for the grounds, a pressure washer allowing us to do a bit of really thorough cleaning around the estate, and a video conferencing system and monitor, ensuring as many as possible can attend Co-op meetings, which we now run online and in the office. (See below why that is so important!)

Garden: Having been successful with the planters, we are looking for volunteers who might like to take care of one or more of them. This won’t cost you anything as we will supply everything, but if tending to plants appeals to you, then please do get in touch.

Co-op meetings and share-holder membership: In 2019, the Co-op held a vote to determine whether we should continue as a Co-operative or else hand over control to the council. At 94% in favour of remaining as we are, we moved forward confident that we would be able to satisfy the demands set out by the council in our Management Agreement. Covid presented all of us with challenges but we must now address concerns we have over the Co-op’s future. Without members willing to join committees or sub-committees and without shareholders willing to attend General Meetings, we may not be able to continue as a Co-op. There are a very small number of people carrying the load which would be lighter if more people were involved. If these numbers shrink further, we are at significant risk of not being able to fulfil the minimum requirements and the Co-op will invariably be taken over by Wandsworth Council management.

It is worth noting that Co-op Home Owners have paid an average sum of 23% less than Wandsworth Borough equivalents elsewhere in recent years for services charges. (See annual details in the table below)

YearWBC Avg.Co-op Avg.Diff. %
(*21/22 figures are estimates)

Not only is the Co-op, therefore, good value for money, we also have greater control over the management and direction of the estate. So it is in everyone’s interest to remain a Co-op.

Sub-committee meetings tend to take place just twice a year and can be held in the office or online. There are Finance, Maintenance and Employment sub-committees as well as the Management Committee. Managers meet six times a year. Management meetings tend to take place at 6.30 pm on a Tuesday and last for roughly an hour. Sub-committee meetings are more flexible as they involve fewer people.

Committee members are obliged to attend a training course once a year to ensure they have a working knowledge of what is expected of them. Recently one of our management committee members attended a day course about employment law. These courses are paid for with Co-op funds and may provide valuable details for your own CV. All we ask in return is you share the knowledge gained with fellow committee members and ensure the office receives any related documentation.

Do take a look at the Co-op history web page to find out more about how this estate was started and the ethos and values that underpin the co-operative movement.

If you would like to know more about becoming a committee member, please give the office a ring for an informal chat.

Tree pruning: Many of you will have noticed the trees being pruned over the last few weeks. The original contract has been split into two which allows the surgeons to return later in the year to address trees that were not suitable for pruning at this time. This meant we have been able to adhere to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which protects nesting birds, and also split the cost over two financial years. We would like to thank resident and committee member Jane Wilkinson who has devoted a great deal of time to working with the borough surgeons on this project.

Co-op events: We have been looking at the possibility of a street party to celebrate the Queen’s birthday in June. We are disappointed that community events have fallen by the wayside over the last couple of years. Should it be safe and appropriate, we hope to be able to announce festivities soon. If any residents have ideas for community events or would like to take responsibility for organising something, please do contact the office.

Interview with a Co-op committee member
Farrokh Hessamian

Farrokh has lived on the estate for 15 years and has been a committee member for 12 of those. He got involved because he wanted to have some say over his environment. He also saw it as a great opportunity to find out more about British Culture and has enjoyed getting to know his neighbours. Over the years, he has been pleased to be involved in developing a business plan and making suggestions about improving the communal areas, although believes there is more to be done. He looks forward to campaigning for more ecological staircase lighting and, in time, perhaps an upgrade to the block flooring. Farrokh is on the management and finance committees which he does not find onerous. In his job, Farrokh is a translator which keeps him busy but he appreciates attending to different tasks in his committee roles. Both Lorraine and Sarah-Jane who work in the office are often grateful for Farrokh’s speedy response and support with processing invoices, which does not take up a great deal of time but is vital to the smooth running of the Co-op.

General Meeting: As we were not quorate for the 3rd March General Meeting, a reconvened meeting was held a week later. Five residents attended online and seven joined at the office. Topics covered were the SIBs rewards, an update on the tree surgery, and this year’s budget was signed off.

A summary of the Chair’s report:

  • Two replacement kitchens and rewires have been completed in tenanted properties
  • There have been ongoing adjustments to the UVPC windows
  • We have seen a big increase in building material and labour costs, which along with energy costs will impact services charges
  • We are still unable to find a reliable handyman – if any residents know of anyone suitable, please advise the office (Contractors should NOT be residents, and must have relevant insurance)
  • Extra members for the committee and sub-committee are needed
  • Residents should read the Co-op newsletters as important information is included. If you have any suggestions for the newsletter, please let the office know.

Remaining 2022 Meeting Schedule

3rd May 7.00 pm General
5th July 6.30 pm Management
12th July 7.00 pm AGM
18th Oct 6.30 pm Management
1st Dec 7.00 pm General

Please lookout for an Agenda in your email or letterbox. Details including a Zoom link for those who find it easier to join remotely is always included.

The next General Meeting will be held on
May 3rd at 7 pm.

Rubbish is an ongoing issue on the estate with drivers coming in to dump it. If you see this happening, please make a note of the number plate and time, and inform Wandsworth Borough Council.