CTHG AGM Minutes November 28th 2017

Here is the downloadable version: this will print better than the web page. Click the link to see the PDF (6 pages, with embedded pictures, about 2MB)

Minutes Cromwell Tower House Group AGM Nov 28th 2017 (V5 PDF)

Here is the web version

CROMWELL TOWER HOUSE GROUP  http://www.cromwelltower.org

Minutes of the A.G.M. on November 28th 2017 at 19.00 in the Podium Room

1. Chairman’s welcome

The Chairman, John Tomlinson, welcomed those attending.  There were 29 members at the meeting including the following committee members: Alan Budgen, Frances Calman (Membership Secretary), Christopher Gorman-Evans, Laurance Jones (Treasurer), Jane Northcote (Secretary).

We were joined by Luke Barton, Cromwell Tower House Officer from the Barbican Estate Office (BEO) and Helen Davinson, Resident Services Manager, Barbican Estate Office (BEO).

2. Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from the following members: Lesley Bradshaw, Julian Hale, Mike Bristow, Desmond Day.

3. Minutes of 2016 AGM (Accuracy)

The minutes of the 2016 AGM were approved as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.

4. Matters arising from the minutes of the 2016 AGM

——

Appended to the minutes of the 2016 AGM was a letter from Peter Finch, who was a lobby porter, thanking us for our good wishes and gift. With great sadness we now record that Peter Finch has died. We remember Peter with warmth and gratitude.

——

The bollards in Cromwell Place seem to be effective in preventing high-speed U-turns. One bollard has been replaced following damage.

The programme of lift lobby carpet replacement continues.

5. Financial Statement

The Treasurer presented the financial report for the last year. The accounts were approved by the meeting.

6. Chairman’s Report

The tragic fire at Grenfell Tower on June 14th 2017 triggered action to ensure our Tower is safe. Fire Risk Assessments are in progress, and will now be done annually. This is further discussed in item 9, below.

House Group members have addressed issues concerning local licensed premises. The Brewery intends to use premises on the North side of Chiswell Street as an entertainment venue. They made an application for opening times extending to the small hours of the morning. Individual members wrote to oppose these hours. Members of the Committee and other House Group members met managers at the Brewery and their lawyer. We wrote a joint objection as a House Group. The Brewery responded by reducing the opening hours, and assuring us that they had measures in place to reduce the noise and disturbance from patrons leaving the premises. We therefore withdrew our House Group objection.

13th Oct (2)
During the summer, drinkers at the Jugged Hare occupied the entire pavement, forcing passing pedestrians into the path of oncoming cars and bicycles. This crowd also obscured visibility into Silk Street. The House Group Chairman met the lawyer representing The Jugged Hare. The House Group Committee wrote to the manager of the Jugged Hare, to draw his attention to the problem, including pictures. The manager responded by placing staff outside to keep drinkers close to the wall, leaving the footway clear for passers-by.

The double yellow lines outside Sundial Court on the North side of Chiswell Street have now been changed, so that the pedestrian area extends continuously in a straight line on that side of the street. This is a considerable improvement. Parked vehicles had previously blocked the footway so that people had to walk in the road. The improvement was made by Islington Council after about a year of lobbying by the House Group Chairman, supported by the House Group.

We now have our full complement of four regular Lobby Porters: Andrew, Flo, Abdi and Kalpesh. Abdi and Kalpesh have recently joined the team. We welcome them, and residents made positive comments about them both.

The Chairman offered thanks to Christopher Gorman-Evans for the orchids on the reception desk, and to Julian Hale and Helen Likierman for the plants in the planters outside the front door.

Thanks to Christopher for the orchids, and to Julian and Helen for the plants outside the front door.

7. Pictures in the 01 lift lobby

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Current exhibition in the 01 lift lobby

The “Van Gogh” exhibition was well received by residents. The current exhibition (pictured above)  is also praised. Alan Budgen said that the next exhibitor will be an Indian artist, who is the sister of Kalpesh, our lobby porter.  Members thanked Alan for his work in organising these exhibitions.

8. Tower Intercom

In previous years the intercom has been faulty, causing concern and expense.  Luke reported that the faults were temporary, and that he is taking no further action.

9. Fire Safety

Helen Davinson and Luke Barton updated us on the latest actions of the BEO on Fire Safety:

    • the “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)” on the City of London website will shortly be updated to include answers to all outstanding questions. To find these FAQ, search for “City of London Fire Safety”, scroll down, and follow the link to “Barbican Estate”. Or try this link: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/housing/Documents/barbican-estate-fire-safety.pdf
    •  Fire Brigade advice has not changed: the Fire Brigade continue to advise a “stay put” policy.
    • the Front Doors and surrounding areas are currently being tested for Fire Resistance.
    • There is a programme of Fire Assessments “Type 3”. This is a more rigorous assessment than previously, and means that a sample of flats will be examined. The PDA plumbing ducts will be included.
    • Smoke alarms: On request, London Fire Brigade will do a Home Safety visit to your flat, free of charge. The Fire Brigade recommend actions to improve fire resistance in individual flats, and recommend or provide and fit smoke alarms. Contact them via their website or 020 8555 1200.
    •  Fire door: each tower flat has a fire door, in the living room in a typical flat. It opens inwards. You are advised to check that your Fire Door works. If it is stuck, you can call the Barbican Repair Line 0207 029 3909 to request a BEO engineer to open the Fire Door.  In an emergency, the door is opened by breaking the glass.

      IMG_0409
      Fire door: it opens inwards

Helen and Luke answered members’ questions:

Q: There is an electrical conduit duct, inside my flat front door. When I looked inside the door, I saw a continuous vertical ‘chimney’. What action is taken to stop smoke rising up this duct into my flat?

A: This is the duct containing wiring. It is accessed only by Barbican electricians. The door must not be opened by residents. The duct contains high-voltage cables which are dangerous. It is not a continuous ‘chimney’: the duct is compartmentalised, and cannot carry smoke from floor to floor. The door is fire-proofed. The Fire Risk Assessment will check that all ducts, including this one, are properly resistant to prevent smoke travelling from floor to floor.

Q: What about the PDA (plumbing) ducts? Can fire or smoke travel up there?

A: As part of the Fire Risk Assessment, these ducts have been examined.  We will also ask the Building Control inspectors (District Surveyor) to check that alterations are compliant. In some cases we have seen non-compliant materials used in the PDA ducts and this is being dealt with via the respective Long Leaseholders.

10. Beech Gardens

Helen Davinson reported that “Phase 2” of the Beech Gardens refurbishment is due to start in summer 2019. The area to be treated is Cromwell Highwalk, and the Podium under Ben Jonson. This is primarily a waterproofing project. All the tiling and flowerbeds will be removed and replaced. The same garden designer will be used as for the West side (Phase 1).

Q: Will the yellow Exhibition Hall Corridor be removed as part of this project?

A: (Helen Davinson) The tender has not yet gone out. This structure is owned by the Barbican Centre, who have said that they will keep it until they are sure that the future users of the Exhibition Hall will not need it.

Q: Will all the trees be removed? Where will the birds nest?

A: (Helen Davinson) The trees will be removed. The podium was not designed to support trees. The birds could use Fann Street Wildlife garden. We will feedback that residents want habitats for birds.

Q: Was the current project (Phase 1) a success? Is it waterproof?

A: (Helen Davinson) Mostly. There was some movement, and we are in dialogue with Crossrail. The blue water currently in a small rectangular pond on the podium is a test for leakage.

11. Electrical Cars

John Tomlinson reported on a Working Party to provide charging points for electrical cars in Barbican Car Parks. There will be some charging points in the Cromwell Car Parks.  The successful contractor has been appointed with installation expected to take place in the New Year.

12. Leaseholder Service Charges Working Party

This Working party was convened under the Residents Consultation Committee (RCC), triggered by an above-inflation increase in Service Charges over the last decade. Jane Northcote reported that the working party had found that officers of the BEO currently have no formal measures in their job descriptions which specifically reflect the interests of long leaseholders. Yet BEO officers manage projects and services which, for the most part, are funded by Long Leaseholders via the service charge.  Accordingly, the Working Party has recommended that “the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) of officers of the BEO include specific and measurable targets to demonstrate that they have controlled or reduced costs recharged to long leaseholders, while maintaining service levels.”  This recommendation has been accepted by the RCC. The working party has also asked that it be allowed to continue its work. Members thanked Jane Northcote for her efforts.

Q: Why do we pay for Lobby Porter sick leave and temps – shouldn’t this be funded by the City, as they are City employees?

A: (Helen Davinson) The Lobby Porters work only for the Towers, so they are paid for only by the Towers. The costs of the 12 Lobby porters are pooled and funded equally by the three Towers.

Q: Why are there so many temporary Lobby Porters?

A: (Helen Davinson) People are entitled to take holiday and sick leave. Shift work is known to cause an increase in sick leave. When a substitute is needed, the BEO look first at the local team, so ideally you get cover from one of your regular porters. If no regular porter is available we look across the estate. We also have agency staff who know the job and the estate.

13. Election of Committee

Lesley Bradshaw has announced her wish to resign from the Committee. Lesley has been a great contributor to the work of the House Group, notably during the lobby refurbishment. She has also applied her energy to ensuring that our summer party and AGM meetings are well organised and successful. The Chairman acknowledged her contribution and we wish her well.

Mike Bristow has indicated his willingness to serve on the committee. He has already helped the Committee by representing Cromwell Tower at meetings on Fire Safety, and reporting back. He was proposed and elected.

The 2017/8 committee is:

John Tomlinson (Chairman) (john@johnandpaula.com)
Mike Bristow
Alan Budgen
Frances Calman (membership secretary, fcalman@doctors.org.uk)
Christopher Gorman-Evans
Julian Hale
Laurance Jones (Treasurer)
Jane Northcote (Secretary, Jane@JaneNorthcote.com)

The Chairman closed the AGM at 8:15pm.

Minutes of AGM December 1st 2016

CROMWELL TOWER HOUSE GROUP

Minutes of the A.G.M. on Dec 1st 2016 at 19.00 in the Podium Room

1.    Chairman’s welcome

The Chairman, John Tomlinson, welcomed those attending. There were 23 members at the meeting including the following committee members: Frances Calman (Membership Secretary), Julian Hale, Laurance Jones (Treasurer), Jane Northcote (Secretary).

We were joined by Luke Barton , Cromwell Tower House Officer from the Barbican Estate Office (BEO), and Ben Kennedy, LEN Project Manager from the City of London.

2.    Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from the following members: Lesley Bradshaw, Christopher Gorman-Evans, Alan Budgen.

3.    Low Emission Neighbourhood (“LEN”)

The City of London, together with the Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Greater London Authority (GLA), is funding and supporting measures to make the Barbican area a “Low Emission Neighbourhood (LEN)”. Ben Kennedy, LEN Project Manager from the City of London, described what is going to happen. There will be a 3-year project to reduce air pollution. It starts with a consultation and Launch Event in the City of London Girls School at 6pm on 11th January 2017 to which all residents are invited. Measures under consideration include:

  • awareness-building in schools and in the general public
  • making the Beech Street tunnel a zero-emission road: only electric vehicles and bicycles would be allowed through, enforced by cameras with number plate recognition
  • actions to discourage drivers from leaving their engines running while stationary
  • increased cycle parking and more electric charging points in Barbican car parks
  • making the Silk Street taxi rank an “electric only” rank
  • trial of “green screens”, a wall with plants on it, to remove noxious chemicals from the air.

All these are subject to consultation. Mr Kennedy encouraged us to go to the meeting on the 11th Jan or to contact him: Ben.Kennedy@cityoflondon.gov.uk.

4.    Minutes of 2015 AGM (Accuracy)

The minutes of the 2015 AGM were approved as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.

5.    Matters arising from the minutes of the 2015 AGM

The bollards are now in place to prevent fast and dangerous U-turns in Cromwell Place. We, as Tower residents, are not paying for this.

Two lift lobby carpets are being replaced this year. Two carpets will be replaced every year until further notice. The carpets to be replaced will be determined by the House Officer. The cost for these carpets is shared by all Cromwell Tower flats and will appear on the service charge.

6.    Financial Statement

The Treasurer presented the financial report for the last year. The accounts were approved by the meeting.

7.    Chairman’s Report

Apart from the items listed below, there are no major issues affecting the Tower.

The Chairman thanked Luke Barton, our House Officer, for his successful work to get the bollards in place, and for supporting us on numerous other matters throughout the year.

8.    Concrete

There has been a long-running dispute between the Barbican Association, representing residents, and the City, about who should pay for concrete investigation and remedial work done in August 2013. This dispute is now ended. The Barbican Association took the view that there was not sufficient advantage to be gained for residents from pursuing the case. Therefore the City’s position prevails, and residents must pay for this work. All but one resident have already done so.

9.    Pictures in the 01 level lobby

Alan Budgen sent through a note to say that a photographer will very shortly be putting up her work on the hangers in the 01 lobby. After her, there are two other artists ready to exhibit.

10.Tower Intercom

Luke reported that he is investigating options to replace the intercom between the porter’s desk and out flats. It has had intermittent problems which are expensive to fix.

11. Procedure in the event of Fire

Following an independent Fire Risk Assessment, Luke has prepared a dossier of information which will be distributed to residents shortly. This will include instructions to be followed in the event of fire.

A resident reported that they had obtained excellent fire alarms for use inside the flat, free-of-charge, from the London Fire Brigade.

The estate office has investigated whether the rubbish lockers are a potential route for fire to travel vertically from floor to floor. This was a concern after the additional drill holes were made for installation of new cabling. The locker floor and ceiling were found to be adequate proof against fire. Work will be undertaken to seal the cable holes to prevent smoke travelling up the tower in the event of fire.

12.Beech Gardens

The City is about to seek approvals for the renovation of the East part of Beech Gardens, including the walkways next to our Podium door. Precise details are yet to be confirmed. This work will be similar to the work already completed on the East part of Beech Gardens. It will include totally new flowerbeds. Since this area is a public walkway, it will be paid for by the City and does not come out of our Service Charge.

We understand that that the “Yellow Corridor” on Ben Jonson Highwalk, which currently leads to the Exhibition Halls, will be removed as part of this work.

13. Update on Peter Finch

Peter was a member of our Lobby Porter team until he became seriously ill. He was on long-term sick leave and then resigned his job. Residents contributed to a gift for Peter and sent messages of support. Peter has received the cheque, and sent a note which is appended to these minutes.

14.Question: Update on recruiting a replacement for Peter Finch

After the meeting Luke investigated and reported that recruitment advertisements will be placed in the New Year.

15. Question: Weekend Cyclists on the Podium

A house group member reported that he had encountered unruly cyclists on the Podium on more than one occasion. Some had been abusive. Cycling on the podium is a contravention of the City Bye-laws.

Luke Barton and others recommended calling the City Police directly on 101. Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour is a City of London Police Priority identified in their 2016-19 Policing Plan. Calling the police directly is likely to be more effective than going via the estate office.


16.Leaseholder Service Charges Working Party

All work on the Tower appears in our service charges. So when a lobby carpet is replaced, or a contractor mends a window in a flat, the charge is shared amongst all the flats in the Tower. In addition, we bear a portion of estate-wide charges.

The Leaseholder Service Charges Working party was formed at the request of the Residents Consultation Committee (RCC) in February 2016 following concerns at the apparent above-inflation rise in Service Charges. It aims to scrutinise the Service Charges we receive, and the processes by which they are derived, and thus to propose how the Service Charge can be better managed. Jane Northcote is one of the eight residents who are members of the Working Party, which is chaired by Anne Mason of the BEO. The Chairman thanked Jane for her initiative and perseverance in this matter.

17.Election of Committee

The committee were re-elected. People in the meeting thanked the Committee for their work.

The 2016/7 committee is:

John Tomlinson (Chairman) (john@johnandpaula.com)

Lesley Bradshaw

Alan Budgen

Frances Calman (membership secretary, fcalman@doctors.org.uk)

Christopher Gorman-Evans

Julian Hale

Laurance Jones (Treasurer)

Jane Northcote (Secretary, Jane@JaneNorthcote.com)

 

The Chairman closed the meeting at 8pm.

 

CTHG Minutes 21st June 2016

CROMWELL TOWER HOUSE GROUP (CTHG)

Minutes for the Committee meeting 21st June 2016

19:30 in the Podium Room

Committee Members:

John Tomlinson (Chairman)

Jane Northcote (Secretary)

Laurance Jones (Treasurer)

Lesley Bradshaw

Alan Budgen

Frances Calman

Christopher Gorman-Evans

Julian Hale

Barbican Estate Office:

Luke Barton (House Officer)

Luke.Barton@cityoflondon.gov.uk

1.    Welcome

2.    Apologies for absence – All members present.

3.    Minutes of the last committee meeting

Minutes of the CTHG on 14th March were signed by the Chairman as an accurate record.

Matters from previous meetingS

4.    Carpet renewal – issue now resolved

The two carpets on floors 30 and 3 have been replaced. These carpets cost £3372 each, which is recharged to the whole block. This will appear as an addition of about £70 to the Service Charge of a typical flat. Luke proposed a replacement schedule of two carpets per year, and the committee accepted this proposal. The replacement schedule will be reviewed in future years if needed.

5.    Void space development – use of mezzanine

Planning permission has been granted to transform the Void space at ground, podium and mezzanine levels into a flat. There is no start date yet agreed for the building work. When the Void space is developed, the Mezzanine will provide access to the new flat, and so will need to be clear.

As the Mezzanine level lobby is currently used informally as a storage space for items awaiting recycling. Luke is currently investigating options.

6.    Beech St./Silk St. junction.

We have requested that the vehicle entrance to Cromwell Place be reduced in width so as to discourage taxis and lorries making dangerous U turns. This work will be funded by the City of London.

Luke is seeking approval from the Planning department of the City. He is awaiting a meeting to agree the plans and funding.

It is now 12 months since the initial request.

John will talk to the relevant City department with the intention to expedite matters.

7.    Threat alarm and intercom

There are a number of difficulties with the combined threat alarm system and intercom. This is supplied and maintained by Antron, a private firm.

  • The Threat Alarm has been tested but John Tomlinson and Laurance Jones did not hear it.
  • There are intermittent problems with the intercom, which have caused considerable inconvenience to several residents. Antron have been called out a number of times, at a cost to leaseholders, last year, of some £6000 for the block.

The Cromwell system is different from that in the other towers. It could potentially be replaced by the simpler system used by the other Towers. This simpler system does not include the alarm. In this case the maintenance would be done by Resident Engineers which is cheaper and quicker than Antron.

Action: Luke to

(1) Find out about Fire Safety and Fire Alarms: do we need a Fire Alarm? What do the other Towers do?

(2) Investigate the long-term plan for security and visitor entry to the Towers.

(3) Discover the date for the next test of the Threat Alarm, ideally in September.

(4) Investigate options for replacing the intercom, with or without the alarm.

8.    Additional planters for Cromwell Place

There has been a long-standing request for additional planters following an incomplete replacement last year (2015). The plants in the containers just outside the doors are not in a good state, and the island in Cromwell Place needs attention.

Actions:

Luke – will put in a strong case for large planters for Cromwell Place for the 2017/8 year.

John – will ask the Gardens Advisory Group to ensure steps are taken to improve the quality of planting in Cromwell Place planters and island.

9.    Concrete Repairs

(a) Major Concrete repairs done in August 2013:

There is an ongoing dispute between the Barbican Association, representing residents, and the City as landlord, regarding who should pay for concrete repairs and remedial work done in August 2013. John Tomlinson reported that experts commissioned by the City have now delivered technical answers to queries. The City lawyers are now initiating proceedings against anyone who has withheld payment. The Barbican Association is considering options.

(b) Repairs to concrete in internal exposed areas: e.g. on inside of balconies

Some residents have noticed that the concrete has flaked off the inside of balcony walls, exposing rusting steel re-inforcement bars.

Luke reported that repairs will start in the next 6 months. The contract will go out to tender in the next 3 months. The cost will come through on the Service Charge. The City surveyor advises that the rusty steel bars will not deteriorate markedly before the repairs occur.

10.Visitor parking.

The former visitor parking spaces in 01 ground level car park are now in use to provide disabled parking. Porters now send visitors to spare spaces in 02 or 03 car parks. This means that visitors must be given garage entry keys.

The Committee asked that the BEO reserve four places in the 01 level for visitor parking and as a contingency for future disabled use.

Luke reported that so far no more spaces have become available in the 01 car park, and that as soon as spaces are released they will be retained for Cromwell visitors.

11.Noise issues – Brewery.

If any resident is disturbed by noise from the Brewery please tell them, and report the time of the noise:

24-hour Manned Reception (Brewery) 0207 065 5700

Brewery Duty Manager Mobile 07920 203 823

It would also be helpful if you could tell the City’s Pollution Control team:

Call 020 7606 3030 to report noise and request immediate action or

email publicprotection@cityoflondon.gov.uk to notify them after the event.

Also please email John Tomlinson: john@johnandpaula.com. This is so we can take an informed view of the size of the problem and use data to make a case for action.

12.Bright lights from St Paul’s area – issue now resolved

Flats on the South of the Tower have been flooded by light intended to illuminate St Paul’s. Christopher has been in correspondence with the City of London Environmental Health Officer, Rachel Sambells. These lights will now be turned off. LED lights will be installed which can be more accurately directed. We are optimistic that this will solve the problem.

13. Service Charges Working party

The first meeting of the Service Charges Working party will be on 27th June. Jane will be participating. The broad aim is to ensure that processes are in place to manage, control and forecast service charges so that costs to leaseholders are contained and predictable, and service quality are maintained.

14. Parking on the North side of Chiswell Street

A better footway arrangement will be built on North side of Chiswell St outside Sundial Court to protect pedestrians as part of Islington’s “Quietways” programme. We hope that this improvement will be made in 2016.

Action: John to request an update

15.Glue Lines on each side of Utility doors – issue closed

On some floors there are glue lines, straight or wavy, each side of the utility doors in the lift lobbies. These were made by contractors who secured protective sheeting to the utility doors with glue. On the 23 Feb 2016 Laurance Jones raised this issue with Steve Murray, Property Services Team Manager,

City of London Corporation. Luke reported Steve Murray’s view that removing the glue lines would make the cleaned area paler. This would be unsightly.

We decided to take no further action to clean existing lines.

Action: Luke will alert fellow House Officers to this problem. If plans for renovations include asbestos removal, House Officers will include in the Planning Approval an instruction not to stick sheeting to visible areas of concrete.

16. Lobby door banging on Ground Floor – issue resolved

On 24 Feb 2016 Luke noted that the front door was banging. The brake on the door has failed, so the door closed violently, possibly endangering the glass.

Luke says this has now been fixed and is awaiting redecoration.

17. Broken tiles and Chewing Gum on Cromwell Place – issue resolved

Broken tiles have been mended. Removing chewing gum is now a routine part of the cleaning services actions.

18. Items left in Lobbies

On certain floors, there are bicycles, shoes and other items in the lift lobbies. This is in contravention of the lease, and a fire hazard. Over recent months Luke has taken action to enforce fire regulations and get items removed from lobbies.

Action: Luke to continue enforcement action.

19. Water hammer noise on higher floors

There has been intrusive noise from water hammer on upper floors.

Luke reported that this problem has now been solved. It took a very long time to resolve, and Luke assured us that lessons have been learned.

MATTERS ARISING SINCE THE LAST MEETING

20. Doors coming off the parcels cupboard under the porter’s desk

This seems to happen repeatedly.

Luke to discover from Metwin (contractor) why the repair does not work.

21. Stop-cock on the 20th Floor

A resident reported a very long wait for a stop-cock replacement.

Luke reports that this has now been replaced.

22. Notice Board

The Notice Board on Level 01 is for use by Cromwell residents only. The best way to advertise services to Barbican residents is to use Barbicantalk. http://www.barbicantalk.com

23.Damage to public areas by contractors

Thomson Bros undertook to repaint the ceiling of the B lift, which they damaged during a recent renovation. They have not done this yet. More renovations are expected this summer.

Action: Luke to repeat the request to Thomson Bros.

Action: Luke will photograph lifts and lobbies so that we have a record of the state of public areas. Contractors who damage public areas will be asked to make good at their expense.

24. Côte Restaurant variation of licence – no action needed

Côte have applied for a change to their alcohol licence so they can offer a home delivery service which includes delivery of alcoholic drinks. Certain blocks are considering objecting to this. The CTHG Committee decided that this variation of the licence will not make a difference to us and we will not object.

 

FORTHCOMING DATES

27 Sept 19:00 Committee Meeting

1st December 19:00 AGM and Christmas Party

31st January 2017 19:00 Committee Meeting