WBCAn Open Letter, sent to Councillor Thom, chair of the Council’s Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee:

Dear Councillor Thom,

I’m sending you this Open Letter, on behalf of the Kambala Estate Residents. The letter, and any response, will be published on our website at www.kambala.org.uk

As we mentioned to you on your recent Inspection of the Kambala Estate, we have long suspected that the Cleaners are made aware of your visits, and are instructed by the Cleaning contractor to spend extra time making the Estate look good, before you arrive.

Today my Partner has been told, by one of the cleaners on the Estate, that the cleaners who normally work on our Estate, have been instructed to work at Badric Court today, because there’s an Estate Inspection tomorrow. Consequently, today our Estate is receiving little more than a quick tidy of the worst areas. Small wonder, then, that whenever you visit our Estate, all the litter has been cleared away, and everything’s looking clean and tidy – compared to the rest of the year, when it’s not.

My partner has also learned that despite the fact that the cleaners are now expected to clean the rubbish cupboards weekly; the Contractor is receiving an additional fee from the Council for doing ;this, and the Council has increased the Service Charge to leaseholders, in order to pay for this – the cleaners are expected to fit this into their normal working day – meaning that they have less time for cleaning the blocks, paved areas etc. According to the cleaner my partner spoke to, no additional hours are being worked, or additional cleaners provided, in order to cover these additional duties, for which leaseholders are being charged.

The Residents Association have always said that Residents should be responsible for keeping their own cupboards clean, but that the Council should enforce this more rigorously.

Despite this, the Estate Management decided to pay the Cleaning Contractor to clean the cupboards weekly. The cost of doing this has been passed on to leaseholders – who in general tend to keep their cupboards clean and tidy anyway. The charge was described as “nominal” (or possibly “minimal”) in the letter that was sent to Residents during the summer – but leaseholders subsequently found that their Service Charges were being increased by as much as 10%.

We would appreciate answers to the following questions:

  • Why is the Cleaning contractor informed of Site visits? Would it not be better to carry out “surprise” inspections, to see the true picture?
  • Exactly how many man-hours per week (in total) are the Cleaners supposed to work on the Kambala Estate? And how many man-hours was it before they started cleaning the rubbish cupboards? We’d also like to know whether the figures provided by the cleaning contractor are independently verified, or does the Council simply trust the Contractor to provide additional manpower when they’ve said they will?

Regards
Neil Stead
Kambala Estate Residents Association