Meeting between GPRA and Graylingwell Energy 02.10.14 2pm Sales Suite Graylingwell Park
- GPRA – Richard Shord (Chairman) Sue Cressey (Vice-Chairman)
- Linden Homes – Gavin Bourne
- Graylingwell Energy – Brian Love (Director Galliford Try) Alan Wyper (Ops Manager GESL)
Personal introductions were followed by a discussion on the structure that delivers energy services to Graylingwell and where responsibility lay for fault rectification, compensation claims and billing issues.
Regeneco and Graylingwell Energy Services Limited (GESL) are wholly owned subsidiaries of Galliford Try (as is Linden Homes). GESL have overall responsibility for the delivery of heating and hot water to Graylingwell but have sub-contracted three parcels of responsibility to Switch2 – billing, the automatic meter-reading system and plant maintenance.
All agreed that performance of Switch2 in these areas had been inadequate despite their being one of the largest suppliers of such services in the UK. Alan Wyper had been bought in specifically to sort out problems with Switch2 and improve the fault-finding, repair times and performance of the plant at Graylingwell. Changes have been made to the control and alarm system at the plant so that GESL can manage Switch2’s responses to problems more effectively.
2.Interruptions to supply
The GPRA raised the frequency of ‘planned maintenance’ interruptions and system breakdowns – namely 19.10.13, 29.01.14-03.03.14, 30.06.14- 11.07.14 (notified but off until 19.00) 19.08.14-20.08.14 (unplanned – sensor), 30.08.14 (due to ‘power failure’) 13.09.14 (3hrs Lloyd Road). Only the last failure needed further investigation and GESL agreed to notify Switch2 where compensation was required and to strengthen reporting links so that individual calls were not treated in isolation. Check lists of questions had been given to Switch2 and will now be used by out-of-hours engineers to fully map the severity and length of unplanned faults, and enable a co-ordinated emergency response. GESL will use key performance indicators to monitor effectiveness and ensure mobile and land-line numbers are captured for giving feedback on progress. GESL is also reviewing its website and will consider the option of putting live updates on fault-fixing progress on the site. GPRA will publicise vulnerable persons list facility for those who face difficulties during outages.
Inadequate record keeping, problems with data collection/estimated billing, unresponsive customer service and accuracy of metering were all discussed. Performance has markedly improved. Only 6 cases of metering issues now remain and billing is now based on actual readings following the repair of the reading system. Both parties will continue to monitor the situation.
5.Costs of supply
Both kWh charges and standing charges were reviewed. Although some schemes were cheaper, comparison was difficult because ‘sinking fund’ charges for future repairs and maintenance were charged separately whereas GESL included all elements in a single billing. GESL charges are in the mid-range for such schemes.
GESL had concluded a deal for gas which would lead to cheaper bills and would be notifying residents accordingly.
GESL will look at the calculations of the bands for standing charges (currently on a per sq/ft basis) to investigate anomalies the GPRA highlighted.
Discussions followed on extending the district heating main to other locations in the future (which would both maximise plant efficiency and have the potential of reducing standing charges). This is not a here-and-now option but would be kept under review.
Other cost-reduction methods such as bringing in combined heat and power equipment (CHP) to generate electricity as a by-product from heating boilers, were now looking less likely as feed-in tariffs for electricity supplied to the grid were less attractive. Instead, a bio-mass plant looks more attractive and is under consideration as demand expands.
All recognised a lack of dialogue with the GPRA and customers in extremis was a missed opportunity to get quality customer feedback. GESL staff with whom the GPRA had struggled to communicate had now left GESL. It was agreed that a quarterly review meeting would be held to ensure issues are not allowed to fester and continued progress monitored. Proposed dates would be forwarded by the GPRA. As well as looking at upgrading the website GESL would also ensure that the new low cost number for Switch2 (0333 321 2010) would be publicised. The GPRA will do likewise.
Annual General Meeting
Friday 19th September at 7.00pm in The Chapel
Committee members present: Brad Ainsworth (Chair); Sue Cressey (Vice –chair); Barbara Howden-Richards; Richard Shord (Treasurer); Susan Shord; Irela Strachan; Grace Taylor
Apologies: Emma Ainsworth; Dusty Miller; Paula Miller
1 Annual Report (Chairman)
Brad Ainsworth introduced and thanked the current committee for their work over the past year and outlined the issues the GPRA had been seeking to address at the beginning of the year and consequent progress made.
Improved communications with residents
The website had been established and regular e-newsletters were sent to subscribers, digests were placed on the notice boards for those unable to receive email and flyers were delivered to all houses to alert residents to key events and issues
Estate management and development issues
Linden, Grange Management and Affinity Sutton are now meeting the GPRA on a quarterly basis.
A list of outstanding actions is maintained and reviewed by Sue Cressey. Improvements had come in street lighting, dealing with emergencies, and road signage. Costs were always under review.
Barbara Howden-Richards had been working with council officials and others to open a cycle path between Westbourne Road and Lloyd Road to prevent further damage to fencing.
A meeting with Graylingwell Energy has been arranged for October to address issues of reliability, billing performance and costs. The GPRA had generally been successful in gaining compensation for unplanned outages.
Grants had been obtained from Affinity Sutton and Chichester District Council for the website, a raffle stall had been run at the Summer Garden party and donations had covered additional expenses with regard to printing.
Initiated by Emma Ainsworth, there is now a Neighbourhood Watch in place with regular meetings with the PCSO and updates emailed to scheme members.
A Joint CCDT and GPRA barbecue for all residents had also been held.
In closing comments the chairman also emphasised that the committee needed more volunteers to ensure the continued success of the GPRA especially as, due to business demands, he would be stepping down from the role.
2 Annual Accounts (Treasurer)
We are required under our constitution to submit accounts for audit. Accounts to year-end (August 2013) were prepared and audited by Affinity Sutton as ‘fair and true’.
Bank mandates were changed to reflect the make-up of the committee. No expenditure over £20 can be spent without committee approval and two signatures.
As outlined in the Chairman’s report, the website project was scoped, designed and costed at £500. To cover these costs matching grants were secured from CDC and Affinity Sutton (and thanks to Clare and Jane at CCDT for their counsel on grant procedures and sources). The website was delivered to time, specification, and below budget (£427.40) including printing and rollout costs. This was largely due to all text, design layouts, functions and photography being done in house. Project costs have been accounted for, to the grant-giving organisations, and all grant conditions have been met.
In terms of other income and expenditure, there was further fund-raising, through a raffle at the Summer Garden Party which raised £164 net of required contributions to the Scouts, and expenditure included subscriptions (CRAG £10), general printing for AGM (£8.99) and, with CCDT, sponsorship of the welcome barbecue in September this year (£60 for bouncy castle).
Additional printing costs for emergency communications (heating outage in the winter in Homestead and Longley Roads and notifying all households of Linden’s intended master plan variations) were covered by donations.
Our year-end position (31.08.14) is funds of £381.45p in an HSBC account and the princely sum of 26p in cash. This compares to a prior year position of £241.54p so we have improved our position despite a considerable number of activities.
3 Election of officers (Chair, Vice-chair, Secretary & Treasurer)
The current chair is retiring but other members of the GPRA committee were willing to stand again. Richard Shord (Chairman), Sue Cressey (Vice Chairman), and Susan Shord (Secretary) were all proposed, seconded and elected to office. Richard Shord agreed to stay as acting Treasurer until a new member could be found to take the role.
4 Election of committee members
All remaining existing committee members were elected unopposed and, although no other resident had previously expressed a wish to stand for office, Chris Pearson, present at the meeting, announced his willingness to stand and was welcomed to the committee.
5 Amendments to constitution
No amendments were requested
6 Open forum discussion on issues and the way ahead for the association
A lively and welcome discussion of points raised by a number of the 45 residents who attended, followed the main business.
In response to questions, revisions to Linden’s Master Plan were outlined and the GPRA’s concerns reiterated. The residents’ association had provided links to the full proposal via the website and had leafleted all residents to gain an overview of concerns. This formed the basis of the residents’ response, which was submitted to the planning committee. This has contributed, together with objections from other sources, including a separate petition organised by some residents, to the fact that Linden Homes have modified some of their proposals. However, further items (apartments on Chapel Green, houses in Summersdale Road etc.) remain contentious. One Graylingwell resident (a local councillor) indicated that the City Council have accepted some changes but remain concerned about other proposals. There is doubt that the proposals will make the October council planning meeting.
Claire de Bathe (Director of CCDT, who will own and manage the community buildings and facilities) outlined the current plans, funding requirements and hard choices to be made in providing for community needs in the short and long term. For example, CCDT would like more land by Chapel Green for community use without the current restrictions and, if a new sales office were to be located on the eastern side of the site, community use of the current Sales and Marketing Suite could begin. (NB. The recently publicised Heritage Lottery funding of £99K is for the Heritage Project on Graylingwell history and has no connection with these issues.)
Concerns were raised about the delivery of the vision of Graylingwell Park as a carbon neutral development with a focus on community and the environment. General concern over this was agreed from both the committee and the floor. From the floor, the point was made that all residents need to be involved in order to make the vision a reality, as it is not just a GPRA committee responsibility. One resident (Longley Road) urged us to use the excellent bus service whenever possible to keep the zero-carbon promise alive.
A number of issues related to parking were raised. It seems that some people have several vehicles and use visitor parking spaces all the time which puts considerable pressure on visitor parking spaces. A Lloyd Road resident had contacted CPM to get them to deal with rogue parking and they did not respond. (The committee will take up these issues with CPM via Grange Management). The Master Plan, however, will provide more parking around the park and additional visitor parking in other places. An agreement has been reached to allow for disabled parking for 20 minutes on the road outside a house.
There were also concerns about admin errors and lack of discretion being used for minor infringements. It was suggested that it might be possible to have some leeway over bank holidays. For example, over Christmas, some residents are away and are not using their spaces, whereas others have visitors and could make use of them. The mood of the meeting was that, whilst it should be possible for people to come to a temporary agreement between themselves over use of permits, there should be no parking free-for-all on high days and holidays.
Some residents are still unclear about the rules concerning parking. Signage will be reviewed as part of the committee action above.
Safety in Lloyd Road was raised both from the point of view of speeding drivers and recklessly ridden bicycles. A particularly dangerous area is by the first corner in Lloyd Road, where cars are often parked by the apartments.
The GPRA is investigating the cost of speed bumps, will also work with the PCSO on a possible road safety day for both adults and children, and will advise CPM to pay particular attention to illegal parking by the apartments.
A Longley Road resident raised the issue of costs for the maintenance of Havenstoke Park. The service charges we pay to Grange Management cover the outer ring of the park, although this, the lighting and dog waste bins, (for which we also pay) are an amenity for a considerable number of non-resident users. Clare de Bathe pointed out that the land still belongs to HCA and we still do not know who will take on ownership once the development is complete. This issue is already on the Residents’ Association radar. Linden Homes have been contacted with regard to producing a tree plan and this will be raised at the next meeting with Linden.
Once Community facilities are in place, people will require further parking. The plan is that this will be a gated, grassed area on the park, reinforced below ground. This has been reduced in size in the second master plan.
On the raised matter of selling property, residents were advised that documentation (e.g. EPC certificates and utility bills) were required as usual. Conveyancing searches remain the same as always and there should no hidden issues.
Is it possible to have a post box on site? One resident from Lloyd Road has written to Royal Mail whose response was that, since there is one 350yds away, they are unlikely to consider it. However, this is something that the GPRA might be able to present to Royal Mail again as they represent several hundred residents.
With regard to the render on houses in Lloyd Road, Sue Cressey has been dealing with a problem on her own account from the time of her original snag list. Having had no response from Linden Homes, she made a claim through NHBC. Another 61 houses need to be re-rendered although she has nothing yet to that effect in writing, but the fact that her home and a few others have been done, suggests that they admit liability and the other buildings in phase 1A of Lloyd Road will be done. Other householders in phase 1A who may have a problem are urged to contact Linden Homes or NHBC to clarify their position
A Lloyd Road resident pointed out that Affinity Sutton properties are also affected and requested that the committee ensure that, for the benefit of the whole development, the housing association takes remedial action. Affinity Sutton, who had a maintenance contract with Galliford Try, are now using in-house contractors for remedial work, and the committee will ensure they are made aware of the issues.
Chris Pearson asked if Graylingwell Energy had the option of paperless billing, which was eco-friendly as well as possibly lowering costs. The committee will advise on this as it is already in operation.
Many residents raised issues associated with Graylingwell Energy including how the cost structure may change over time and the basis for the calculation of standing charges. The committee will raise these issues at its October meeting with Graylingwell Energy.
A final point from Grace Taylor noted that the Community Garden has finished its tenure at its current site with a level 5 award from Britain in Bloom. The garden (closed by development of phase 4) will continue in a different form until its next and final site becomes available.
The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks to Brad Ainsworth, the retiring chairman, for his help in setting up the Residents’ Association and working hard to ensure its success over the past three years.
After the meeting had closed, a suggestion was made that it might be helpful to offer additional opportunities for residents to meet with the GPRA rather than solely at the AGM. This was taken up as a good idea, which the committee will pursue.
Please note: With the lively discussion that took place during the evening, it is possible that there may be some unintentional errors or omissions in these minutes. If you would like to make any corrections, please contact the secretary via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or direct at 42 Longley Road.