EastendHomes – Estate Boards – Tenants at the Heart

facts not fiction

EastendHomes Ltd is a registered charity as you can see here on the Charity Comission web site.

As a registered charity EastendHomes Ltd have to provide an annual Summary Information Return (SIR)

The purpose of the Summary Information Return is to provide the public with better information about the wonderful works EastendHomes Ltd are performing. Click this link here for the Summary Information Return 2009 submitted by EastendHomes Ltd at the beginning of 2010

In this report Peter Gibbs – Director of Finance & Resources answered the question-

  • What are your charity’s main objectives for next year?

One of the three answers to this question was:-

  • To develop our residents involvement framework and enhance our Tenant and Leaseholder participation..

If you look at the EastendHomes Ltd website about Resident Involvement & Participation you will find a lot about the local estate boards being central to their claims to have “Local delivery of services, decision making and accountability…”

Now to the point of all this:-

  • On the St Georges Estate all meetings in June and July including the Estate Management Board and the Regeneration meeting were cancelled by EastendHomes Ltd without consulting with board members
  • In Mile End East the last open estate board meeting was 22nd April and the next one we are being told will be after Ramadan. That is the second week in September at the earliest. Four and a half months with no board meeting
  • Island Gardens board it seems will now meet every three months.

How can the answer given by Peter Gibbs to the Charity Comission in January 2010 that the charity’s main objective “To develop our residents involvement framework and enhance our Tenant and Leaseholder participation” possibly be true when three of the estate boards are effectively non-existent for three months. On the EastendHomes Ltd web site the published Local Boards constitution states that:-

    • The objects of the Estate Management Board shall be, to work for the general benefit of the residents and community living in the EastendHomes managed housing
    • To consider and respond on matters referred to it by residents and/or their representatives


Read the published Local Boards constitution here.

There are some issues about the constitution at the moment that would best be resolved by disscusion at local boards – if they were to meet – more about this later.

EastendHomes Ltd Involvement structure chart

With the aid of this graphic published by EastendHomes Ltd it would be an excellent idea to update and check some information to see just how the structure is functioning.
      • The last Estate Management Board meeting on Holland Estate (1) was back in March.
      • We are pretty sure that Island Gardens (2) will be switching to meetings every three months.
      • Christchurch Estate Management Board (2a) is only meeting 4 times a year.
      • Mile End (3) nothing until September.
      • The Mile End Tenents and Residents’ Association (3a) no longer exists.
      • St Georges (4) have had no meetings for about three months.
      • Glamis Board (5) have been able to meet and decided to continue with their existing constitution, with the proviso that amendments could be made at an AGM
      • Does any one know if the Christchurch Area Tenants and Residents Association (2a) is still about – rumour has it its not.
      • The Service Review Board (Sub-Committee) is having problems attracting a quorum to its meetings.

How engaged are you

View Comments (2)

  • At a time when local boards are suffering from reduced representation, EeH Chief Executive Mr Bloss tries to prevent elected members from representing the interests of fellow residents at the local boards on the basis that they are too critical of his administration.

    It is like if the Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council was trying to prevent an elected Councillor from taking Office on the basis that he is too critical of the CE’s policies!

    It appears that Mr Bloss cannot accept that local board members are entitled to independent thinking and free expression of thought especially when the management of their estates and the cost of service provision is not what they are prepared to put up with. His interference with the election process and the indisputable censorship of nominations further indicate that local board elections are not free and democratic and Mr Bloss is acting beyond his powers.

    This act of authoritarian rule and disrespect to the wishes of the estate residents who nominate and support the election of residents to the local boards can only damage local democracy and resident involvement and should be compared with practices only seen in countries where undemocratic regimes prevail.

    Mr Bloss has proved that his suitability as chief executive is highly debatable. Residents should lobby for his removal in order to avoid further damage to the reputation of EastendHomes, which during his days in office has become a distant dream of the community led organisation promised by Tower Hamlets Council.

  • Here is a summary of the role and remit of Resident Members of EeH Main Board, as expressed by one who shall remain nameless but who carried out his glorious term of office from Sept 2008 – Sept 2010.

    “What you, and others on the GEB, might not know is how and why the EEH Main Board is constituted. Firstly, the GEB did not vote me onto the Main Board. In becoming Chair of the GEB I automatically became the person to attend Main Board meetings*, which was agreed to by the GEB. I was found, after searches, to be legally fit to sit on the Main Board as a Director of EEH and, as such, will be subject to standing down and, if I wish, to put myself up for re-appointment every three years - something that is voted on by the Main Board, not my local Board*.”

    *(It is difficult to reconcile this with the provisions of EeH’ Memorandum & Articles of Association, which follow a more conventional policy of requiring elections to the Board from the constituent estate areas and therefore a degree of democratic accountability of Resident Board Members to EeH’ residents. It may well however reflect EeH’ actual practice, given that a number of Resident Board Members appear to have been subject to repeated standings down, only to have been routinely voted back on to the board, by loyal fellow board members, since 2004.)

    “What many do not realise, and I certainly didn't until I attended my first meeting of the Main Board, is that one does not "represent" the "interests" of one's local Board at all. The purpose of the Main Board is to discuss issues affecting all Boards, and matters related to the running of EEH, it's forward planning, past record, and how all this affects every local Board. There is very little input from individual Board Chairpersons.”*

    *(It is difficult, in this scenario, to understand the intended purpose or relevance of EeH' local estate boards. What this might have been appears to be set out in the Constitution of Glamis Estate Board, drafted by EeH Resident Advisor Peter Griffiths in March 2008 –ie some six months before this Resident Main Board Member’s appointment.

    Glamis Estate Board Constitution states, inter alia:

    Constituency: The Glamis Estate Board shall represent the Glamis estate

    (If not the Main Board of EeH, whom does the Estate Board represent the Estate to, one wonders?)

    To promote and represent the interests of residents in negotiations with the landlord, the local authority (...) and other organisations who may be involved with the estate or the residents.

    To ensure that the landlord complies with the commitments made to residents in offer documents or elsewhere.

    To act as a consultative body providing feedback on behalf of residents to the landlord on strategy, policy, service delivery, caretaking, repairs and maintenance, standards of performance and the development programme.

    To communicate with other resident groups and Glamis EB residents regarding changes that may affect them, opportunities for resident involvement and any other matters which affect Glamis EB residents, their homes and their community.

    (How, one finds oneself wanting to enquire, does the Estate Board do any of these things if they are not within the remit of ‘the person who attends Main Board Meetings’, however he or she has ‘become’ that person, and whether this is ‘automatic’ or not?)

    Returning to our Resident Board Member's revealing exegesis: “Each member of the Main Board, of which there are several external consultants, together with Chairs, and others, from local Boards, contributes to the whole of the discussion about how, and in which way, EEH is run.

    Having said this, it is up to Martin Young, as Chair of the Main Board, Paul Bloss, as CEO of EEH, and the Main Board to decide how, and in what way the Glamis Estate Board is "represented" on the Main Board.”*

    *(Some might argue, on the contrary, that this is clearly spelled out in EeH Mem & Arts and requires elections to be held…..Having said this, Martin Young, Paul Bloss and EeH’ Board appear to have airbrushed this requirement from the annals of EeH’ history, along with the original purpose and remit of the local Estate Boards within EeH 'resident-led' governance structure)

    “So, you see, the reason I have not resigned from the Main Board is that I contribute more to the discussion that takes places than merely "representing" the views of the GEB.”*

    *(So does this Board Member, who has taken up a place on the Board in virtue of being a resident of EeH, and has now moved away, have something else to offer? Does he have specialist knowledge of social housing finance or legislation? Is he in fact acting as an ‘Independent’ Board Member, invited to apply to join the Board in virtue of his ability to contribute his ‘special knowledge or expertise to the work’ of EeH?)

    “As I said before, the presentation of the views of individual Boards, except occasionally as a piece of information giving, simply doesn't take place. It's the wider picture that is discussed and, as such, and with my experience so far as Chair of the GEB, that, I guess, is why I have been asked if I am willing to contribute my views.*

    *(It seems not – he ‘merely’ has the experience of having chaired the local estate board on which to base his views and his contribution to the Main Board’s discussions and decision-making.)

    “Provided I am briefed, [….] I am happy to "represent" the "interests" of any local Board, as and when they might be relevant. But I'm not concerned if I don't.”*

    *(And he is not concerned because he has apparently been led to believe that he has absolutely no accountability whatsoever to EeH’ residents)

    “I am also perfectly happy to stand down from the Main Board if it is decided, by them, that my contribution is no longer relevant.”

    Paul Bloss’ comment on the issues, in an e-mail to the very concerned and confused Chair of Glamis Estate Board is as follows:

    ‘There is nothing, of course, to stop Resident Board members from providing constructive input to Board discussions on a range of issues, strategic and otherwise, from an informed local perspective.
    As a resident led organisation, EeH has in place extensive devolved local governance arrangements and a strong commitment to the involvement and empowerment of tenants and other stakeholders in the organisation. This commitment has been restated by the main Board on many occasions. As such, you will be aware that our local estate boards are empowered and supported to get on with dealing with local service provision, regeneration, and other related issues at a local level’.

    Sorry? In our experience, EeH’ Senior Management Team and officers ‘get on with dealing with local service provision, regeneration and other related issues’ from the safe distance of Tayside House, with minimal interference from a ‘local level’. This is because, as so ably demonstrated by our trusty erstwhile Resident Board member, EeH has systematically dismantled the structures originally in place to allow representation of the views of those ‘at a local level’, which were set up to enable and empower residents to influence the decisions EeH makes and the strategic direction the Board agrees, balancing the differing interests of residents locally with the overall good of the company.

    This may well make some aspects of the job of running EeH easier for its beleagured Chief Executive in what have been difficult times indeed, but has brought him up sharply against the very obvious fact that EeH is in business to provide a housing service to residents the standard of which it is required, on a number of levels, including its own governing documents as a not-for-profit company, to account for to those very residents. Closing down the means by which residents can influence decision-making, refusing to work with residents to reach agreed solutions, imposing decisions without consulting residents on their views or attempting to take those views into account, will all tend to make the business of keeping residents on-side all the more difficult and will inevitably increase levels of voiced dissatisfaction with the service EeH provides.

    We seem to have entered a downward spiral in which the more residents express criticism and negative comment about EeH, the more EeH closes down opportunities for residents to have a voice through its formal consultation and governance structures and genuinely influence decision and policy making. Which leads to greater resident dissatisfaction and criticism and ever more dubious attempts on EeH part to exert rigid control over which residents are allowed to take part in what remains of its 'resident engagement' structures.

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