Roundway tenants demand to be seen and heard

Residents protest against Clarion for not addressing problems on their estate

Banner drop Credit: Wendy Charlton

By Luchia Robinson

Residents living in homes managed by housing association Clarion have joined a national campaign highlighting what they deem to be systematic housing management failures.

The tenants, who live in an estate at the junction of The Roundway N17, Lordship Lane N22, and Granville Road N22, have started a banner drop protest – a wall of protest, organised with SHAC (Social Housing Action Campaign).

The Roundway residents are lobbying Clarion about ongoing issues they are facing, which include broken communal doors and entry gates, and an alleyway described as a “public toilet” and “hiding place”.

Increased public access via the private car park is also a concern, which residents say has led to cases of anti-social behaviour: attacks, vandalism, fly-tipping, loitering and drug dealing.

The estate tenant’s steering group claim Clarion are failing them by managing their homes poorly, and not providing repairs or improvements. They state ineffective communication by the landlord means their concerns are often ignored or not adequately addressed.

Clarion Housing owns and manages 125,000 homes making it UK’s largest housing association, with 350,000 tenants nationwide. Speaking of the housing association, resident Wendy Charlton said: “We find it very difficult to get issues resolved. We are kept in a hamster wheel of misery where you are repeating your issues with a different person from customer services each time.

“Notes get lost, meetings don’t get recorded; someone may call you or they may not.”

The residents have been posting images on social media of the protest banners hanging from their homes, with hopes that Clarion’s senior management will engage with them about their concerns.

Wendy said: “Clarion tend to not want to have these conversations with us, because it means that then they have to act on the points that we raise; we’ve noticed that they try their best to avoid creating a dialogue with us.

“They see us as a bit of an inconvenience, but we’re basically asking for them to invest a little bit of money back into the estate to maintain it and make it a nice place to live, and they’re not doing that.”

The alleyway described as an unsafe hiding place Credit: Wendy Charlton

With the help of SHAC, the residents are demanding Clarion: improve their communications and complaints systems; restore neighbourhood managers as points of contact who can offer a continuity of service; and review their service charges, as many tenants state they’ve received billings with multiple errors.

Suzanne Muna, secretary of SHAC, said: “Clarion make it very difficult for tenants to actually report problems. A person will make a complaint and be told that somebody will get back to them – and then nobody does. When they follow up, they get told that there’s no record of the original call or email. Letters are often not signed by any individual, so there’s no direct line to speak to you. It’s just dysfunctional.”

“This is a systematic problem. You would have thought a responsible landlord, particularly a social housing landlord, would have jumped at the chance to make their services more efficient, and speak to us at a strategic level.”

In response to the Roundway tenants’ complaints, a Clarion spokesperson said: “The safety and wellbeing of our residents is our top priority and they are at the heart of everything we do at Clarion. Although we have had no recent reports of anti-social behaviour, we acknowledge there have been some historic anti-social behaviour issues at the Roundway and we have taken these very seriously. These have been linked to issues with the door entry system. Despite multiple visits to repair this, we have not been able to permanently fix it, so we are in the process of arranging a complete replacement.

“A repair to the lift serving the building also took longer than we expected to fix but after working with the manufacturer and specialist consultants we were able to put in place a permanent solution last year, along with a monitoring system so that we are now automatically notified of any issues with the lift and can deploy operatives straight away.

“We measure customer satisfaction regularly and over the last year have consistently met or exceeded our targets. We also have a robust complaints system in place so that if residents do feel we haven’t delivered the service we should have, we can look into the issues raised, put things right and make sure they don’t happen again in the future.”

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