Chair’s report – May 2018

May 23, 2018

Dear Ashworth Mansions Leaseholders,

This note should be read alongside the document pack for our forthcoming annual general meeting, which takes place on 4 June (details below).  I am writing now to tell you what we hope to cover that evening and to encourage as many of you as possible to attend. 

Since our last AGM amongst much else work has been done on a proposal for a new lease, fire safety, decommissioning water tanks as well as preparing for major works (which we carry out roughly once every ten years).  We also conducted a survey for the first time in 10 years (this will become an annual activity).

You will have seen from the company accounts and service charge accounts (sent separately) that there was a £30,000 surplus.  This will be transferred into reserves.

Proposal for a new Lease

Thanks for your responses to the consultation we carried out concerning lease content (12 leaseholders replied; 21 have commented so far including board members).  We have carefully reviewed all the comments and taken them in to account where possible.

We are unfortunately though still not in a position to provide you with an offer to consider, as we had originally intended.  The process remains complex and legal counsel have advised that there are still too many areas of uncertainty to issue a complete proposal for a new lease, in time for the AGM.

We have though advanced our understanding about the tax position considerably (thanks to the help of a lessee who happens to be a tax accountant). We will obtain an HMRC opinion on the AML tax position before issuing new leases.  May I remind you though that the tax advice we obtain is for the companyand not for lessees, each of whose personal tax position will be different and anyone contemplating purchasing a new lease would presumably seek their own tax advice.  We expect to be able to engage with HMRC soon; then assemble a package for your consideration, which we would put to you at an extraordinary general meeting.

We are aware that there are different opinions on the length (known formally as the ‘tenor’) of any new lease, whether a new lease should be offered at all (or the old one simply extended on the basis of your legal rights, which will not be affected in any way) and on various clauses in a new lease.  We welcome further discussion of these matters at the AGM, at any subsequent extraordinary general meeting we held to consider whether and if so how to take this forward, and in correspondence, as you find useful.

Shareholder resolution

One of the reasons why we are delayed in bringing a proposal to you is that the work on a new lease has brought to light historic failures in the processes used by the then Company Secretary to issue shares.  For that reason, we have been advised to put in place a shareholder resolution properly authorising some of the shares already issued.

Water tanks

As discussed at the last AGM, the rooftop water tanks will be decommissioned this autumn. An extensive survey has been undertaken to understand individual flat owners’ positions.  There is still some uncertainty although we have a clearer picture of how many flats will need to transfer to the new system in the next six months.  We are considering new ways to get to the bottom of the missing information – for example, focusing on one block at a time to get the information we need from residents and owners, and then decommissioning the tank for that block and moving on to the next.

Vaults & bridges

Works on the Grantully side have been greatly delayed whilst we worked out how to re-route the gas supply during the works with the monopoly supplier Cadent Gas.

New block front doors and security

This was a much-discussed concern in the survey, and new doors for each of the ten block entrances have been agreed in principle.  We made this decision after a period of investigation into refurbishment versus new doors, and it seems clear that our 100-year-old doors are no longer serviceable.

The new doors will necessarily be installed after the vaults and bridges works (which will cause a great deal of mess as we rebuild the bridges).  Until the vaults and bridges work are complete (one side at a time) further minor refurbishment will be done on particularly problematic block doors in order to keep us secure.

 Fire safety

 We have conducted a statutory fire survey, which recommends the installation of fire alarms, both communal and within individual flats.  Further, we will be required it seems to install new front doors for all flats due to uncertainty around their ability to resist fire for 30 minutes (a requirement).  We plan that this should be paid for out of the service charge, but this is obviously an unwelcome and substantial additional item.

 10-year major works cycle

 Planning for the next cycle is underway with extensive preparatory work already carried out by our surveyors and managing agents.  As previously, there will be additional costs on top of the service charge and regular payments you make already to the sinking fund.  We will give you our best sense of what money will be required and over what period, at the AGM.

Gardens 

Based on last year’s survey, a significant trimming of trees and removal of three is nearly complete.  The gardens on the Elgin side, end-of-terrace will be replanted soon.  This work was held up whilst electrical cables were made safe.

There is therefore a great deal to discuss and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the AGM, which takes place on Monday, 4th June, 19:00 – 21:00, at Paddington Sports Club, in the upstairs meeting room. 

Martin Clements

Chairman

For the Board of Ashworth Mansions Limited

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Water Supply

March 3, 2018

11.30 UPDATE: The leaks are repaired and the water is back on. Fortunately, it was a couple of failed joints which were easily fixed. Please run the taps for a while before drinking the water so that any sediment can pass through.

10.00 UPDATE: The engineer is on site and making repairs.

We’ve had to shut off the water supply to Ashworth Mansions this morning.

Many of you will have noticed a high-pressure leak last night at the rear of block three. KFH sent a plumber at 1 am and we decided to let it run as it was doing little short-term damage. However, since then two more pipes have burst – rear of block five and on block one facing Ashworth Road – and we felt we had no choice but to turn off the pumps until a plumber can take a proper look.

The mains water pipes are lagged and have trace heating but the cold weather is doing unprecedented damage in London this week.

The plumber is on his way and we would expect to have an update later this morning.

Apologies for the inconvenience. We’re doing all we can do remedy the situation.


October News

October 31, 2017

We have finished drafting the next consultation document which will include the proposed wording of the new leases. There are still some legal checks to make but we hope to get this in the hands of lessees within a month. We are aiming to put the lease extension package to an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Company in the first part of 2018.

We have appointed new gardeners. Joseph Jones takes over the contract this week.

We have been running a test of a new closing device which should make the front doors a little quieter. This is in block eight and we’d appreciate your views.

 

AML


Annual BBQ – Sunday 15 July 2017

July 3, 2017

 

Dear Neighbours,

It’s time once again for the annual Ashworth Mansions BBQ and we hope you will be able to join us.

Last year, we had a record number of guests who enjoyed a gourmet feast — with delicious contributions from the many talented cooks we appear to have in residence.

As ever, we will provide the BBQ/fixings with organic burgers and sausages (all from Sheepdrove in Clifton Road) and all drinks including Pimms!

We hope that again some of you will bring along a side dish (salad or whatever takes your fancy) or dessert.

The gazebo will be set-up in case of rain (or hopefully, sun) and the trampoline will be provided to keep the kids entertained. We would just ask that they be supervised at all times.

Look forward to seeing you there (in the Central Garden)!

Thank you,

Pamela & Peter, Flat 65


Memento (from the spring flower that left) by Hamizah Adzmi

June 21, 2017

By the time you read this

I would already be gone.

Tell the cats peeking out of the bushes

That I’m done with their mood swings

Tell the girl who likes to sing while she reads

That I swayed to the sound of her voice

Tell the boy who thought his mother didn’t like his joke

That I saw her smile behind his back

Tell the cherry blossoms not to be scared

That they’re the prettiest when they fall

Tell everyone who took a second look at me

That I’d be their friend if I could

I would’ve chased the sun rays if I could

And stay a little longer.

hamizah

Hamizah was Poet in Residence at Ashworth Mansion during Open Gardens this year.


Open Gardens – 18 June 2017

June 14, 2017

We’re delighted that Ashworth Mansions has been selected to participate in this year’s Open Garden Squares Weekend.  This means that our garden will be open to the public on Sunday 18th June from 10.00 to 16.00.

We think this is a great opportunity to raise the profile of the estate, show off the excellent work of our gardeners and meet our neighbours from other blocks in the area. Three other gardens locally will be participating – Triangle, Formosa and Crescent in Little Venice.

People can’t wander straight in. Entry will only be through the Ashworth Road gate by the boiler room which will be manned some of our residents. The event is ticketed and visitors need to buy a Open Garden Squares pass which also covers over 200 gardens across London.

Last year we had over two hundred visitors including two guided tours of Russian tourists. Please make everyone welcome and, of course, you’re free to use the garden as normal yourselves.

The organisers tell me that there has never been a burglary related to Open Squares – the event attracts gardeners not criminals. We’d still suggest that ground floor residents make sure that doors and windows are locked.

Finally, we’d be keen to hear from any residents willing to help out on the day. The only tasks are to check tickets on the gates, keep an eye on things and to answer any questions from visitors. We’ve prepared a short explanatory handout for visitors too.

 

Please get in touch if you can spare an hour or two on Sunday.

 

Geoffrey Barraclough

Geoff@ashworthmansions.com


Why we need to replace the link-bridges

February 26, 2017

You’ll recall that we have recently sent out a Section 20 consultation notice concerning the replacement of the link-bridges and the electricity mains on the Grantully Road side of the estate. You’ll also recall that we’ve been talking about this project for some while but we wanted to take our time and make sure we did the right thing.  The good news is that now that the Section 20 consultation is completed, we will shortly be ready to put the project to tender and would hope to be able to begin in the Spring.

Much of the delay has been due to protracted negotiations with UK Power Networks for the renewal of 5 incoming electricity main cables; one for each block on Grantully, which run beneath the link bridges and are supported from them. Our appointed services engineers now have an agreed acceptable technical solution which has allowed our surveyors and engineers to finalise the technical design and specification of the works.

The link bridges terminate at the communal front doors of blocks six to ten and themselves are in a poor state. The masonry is crumbling and the ironwork is badly rusted in many places. For safety, we have had to support the weight of the bridges with metal acrow props. The bridges also carry the mains electricity cables into each of the blocks and these installations are also in many cases beyond end of life. Worse, leaks in the vault works cause water to cascade down the cables in poor weather.

The project will proceed on a sequential basis and access  in and out of the blocks will be maintained throughout the works. The bridges will be demolished one by one replaced in the short term with temporary structures. New electricity and (in one case) gas mains will be run into the blocks  and the link bridges and supporting vaults will be built anew. We’ll also be resurfacing the asphalted access areas that run under the bridges which have also deteriorated resulting in increased risk of damp in the lower ground floor flats.

Once we’ve received the tenders, we’ll be back in touch with the final budget but we’re confident that we can fully fund the project from existing reserves.