Tuesday, 27 March 2012

NEW CHARTER TENANT DEMOCRACY, WHAT DEMOCRACY? Involving and Empowering Communities - NOT!

New Charter named as finalist for UK housing awards - 1st September 2011
New Charter 7th in top 100 UK companies - 29th February 2012

I've written a few comments on the 24dash Housing website over the last couple of years in response to New Charter's various press releases. They upload most, if not all, of their press releases to this site. My most recent addition was added Saturday 24th March 2012 and as usual I had to await moderation before it would appear. Fair enough. I expected it would be approved sometime on Monday 26th March 2012, but as I write it has not been approved and the working day has passed. My 24dash dashboard shows it is still awaiting moderation but I've never had to wait this long before! I wonder if I might perhaps have said something controversial! Surely not! I mean, if New Charter wish to prance around on the web and invite comment then they have little to be surprised about. I could be wrong, and I hope I am, but I get the distinct impression it won't appear! So I shall add it here just in case! And if it does I shall add the more complete version below to their more recent press release 'New Charter 7th in top 100 UK companies' as well! Why not!  

This is a corrected and much updated version of what's appeared elsewhere on the web for it contained a number of inaccuracies because written off-the-cuff so to speak!

"New Charter Housing Trust Group has been named as a finalist in this year’s UK Housing Awards. It is amongst a shortlist of six in the ‘Involving and Empowering Communities’ category."

My comment:
They don't deserve this at all!
See my article elsewhere on this blog. 

New Charter do not practice DEMOCRACY! They practice a form of paternalism. "(Government, Politics & Diplomacy) the attitude or policy of a government or other authority that manages the affairs of a country, company, community, etc., in the manner of a father, esp in usurping individual responsibility and the liberty of choice." http://www.thefreedictionary.com/paternalism

For a start Empowering Communities is not the same as Empowering Individuals! And it is my opinion that New Charter only carry-out so-called empowerment objectives in those communities that give them the greatest kudos, ie a lovely photo opportunity to satisfy their 'Good to Great' hubris!

They are a most anti-democratic organisation and I should know for I've been wrestling with them for many years!

I have the right to stand as a TENANT DIRECTOR in the local elections to sit upon the New Charter Homes Board. I am supposed to be judged according to my manifesto by my peer tenants. New Charter has blocked my application for the last 2 years (2010 & 2011) and no doubt it will be the same this year too! They will not accept it and refuse to put my name on the ballot paper!

Monday, 16 May 2011


New Charter Building

New Charter HQ - Cavendish 249
New Charter Housing, a gallery on Flickr.

Written 10th May 2011; finished/uploaded to flickr 16th May 2011. Then linked and copied here.

Photo of New Charter Housing Trust Group's General HQ, Cavendish 249, Cavendish Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside, UK, as seen from IKEA! How wonderful!

I heard it said that New Charter were none too fond of their arrival, perhaps because they put them in the shade! Admittedly IKEA's building is not pretty, but IKEA have a far better people-centred ethos, something New Charter can barely dream of. New Charter takes great pains to point out how GREAT they are, that they are a Company moving from ‘Good to Great’! Don’t you believe it! They suffer from narcissism. It is all smoke and mirrors! Incongruent Image and Reality. “Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.”

You won’t be surprised to read that I am a bête noire tenant currently persona-non-grata with 'the Company' and their nodding donkey tenants. They know who they are! Pope Danny McLoughlin, Head of Legal Services, excommunicated me from the Church of New Charter on the 14th November 2008. There have been some modifications but the song remains the same. I was previously banned in early 2007 for about 6 months with one short interval of reprieve lasting about 6 months. My full banishment period therefore extends from 2007 to the present and is apparently a lifetime ban.

I hasten to add I’ve committed no crime in my dealings with ‘the Company’. I am not charged with a Crime or Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) of any kind. They however, have threatened to take action against me if I continue to allegedly harass ‘the Company’! Little ol’ me accused of threatening a multi-million pound organisation! What wimps! It appears my merely making what I consider legitimate Formal Complaint merits such a charge. More often than not they even refuse to process my complaints through their Complaints Procedure. I’ve even made complaint about that! I’ve complained about the complaint process itself. They further appear to object to how I even make complaint.

At the end of 2006 I claimed victory in my battle with New Charter over my allegedly untidy garden. Suddenly my mail stopped or arrived too late! Seemingly they were now blocking my mail thereby obstructing my participation as a tenant! I responded in early 2007 with 5 separate Formal Complaints. They parried with their secretive, quite literally, 'Prolific Complaints Policy' banning me from their GHQ and their other buildings and from making further complaints! I had others in the pipeline and my making complaint was now apparently a ‘crime’ to them! Sometime in early 2008 they relented and I was allowed back in from the cold!

Then, at the end of 2008 following 2 further complaints from myself, I was officially banished from their buildings. My License to enter was revoked – ‘forever’ it seems! I later learned that during my short return they were building a dossier of my behaviour in preparation for their next offensive.

You might wonder why I was entering their building in the first place. Why bother? Well, I’m a great believer in ‘power to the people’ and democracy. It all relates to Tenant Involvement. So why did they feel the need to block me? Simply put, because I’m a troublemaker, at least from their perspective I am for I am not a YES MAN! Part of the reason for my current banishment is almost certainly because I'm no good at fawning and obsequious behaviour. I challenge! I do not suffer fools gladly. I have an eye for detail and that too is not appreciated.

I've been a New Charter tenant since 1999 when all remaining Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council (TMBC) Housing was transferred to New Charter. From the outset tenants were told how tenant involvement would be much improved, and yet at one and the same time I personally was blocked from attending Tenant Federation meetings, allegedly because I was an individual and not an elected representative! I was told this was necessary for legal reasons related to the transfer. I was one of many opposed to this transfer.

After transfer I became a voice crying in the wilderness, largely ignored and uninvolved. It was easy for New Charter to dismiss the likes of me back then for they could and did legitimise their actions by working with the Tenants' Federation. This was a legitimate tenant elected body. They were used! They did not even represent half of all tenants! Many had no voice at all! I lived on an estate (neighbourhood/community) without a Tenant and Resident Association (TARA).

Around 2005 the Government changed the rules making it incumbent upon Resident Social Landlord’s (RSL’s) like New Charter to ‘improve’ their resident involvement opportunities, such as they were! Both arms were twisted painfully up their back! They were forced to become pro-active in their dealings with their vassal tenants. I suddenly found myself inside their GHQ.

My honeymoon period lasted barely a year before divorce proceedings started. They began legal action in 2006 to force me to tidy my allegedly untidy garden. I fought back and won (they dispute this) and gained them much needed bad publicity in the process. The Company behaved like a bully and were not used to tenants who fight back. I am considered to have brought the Company into disrepute and they've never forgiven me for this affront. It appears such behaviour towards a company with an inflated view of its own importance by someone who apparently does not know his place simply cannot be tolerated. We are dealing here with an ethically challenged company!

Love, Light & Laughter

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Starlord v New Charter - My Garden Battle 2006, a very brief summary

Starlord (49), in his back garden, Chester Ave, Dukinfield, Tameside, 18 October 2006. The start of my successful battle and media campaign against my fascist Resident Social Landlord, New Charter Housing Trust Limited.

Photo Tameside Advertiser - ASN432016a06.
Starlord (49), in his back garden, Chester Ave, Dukinfield, Tameside, 18 October 2006. Photograph taken by Harry Potts of the Tameside Advertiser & duly published 26 October 2006 in their paper. The start of my successful battle and media campaign against my fascist Resident Social Landlord, New Charter Housing Trust Limited. They sought an injunction to force me to 'tidy' my allegedly untidy garden. They failed. I was victorious. 

The dispute had been 'raging' since about 2000 shortly after gaining ownership of all remaining Council Housing in Tameside.

In the latest eruption in 2006 I reasonably complied to the extent that I removed all Ivy from the rear wall of the property, but I refused to remove it from the shed and my back garden. I am a green-environmental activist and had a wildlife garden. The only green my landlord could possibly grasp would be the verdigris streaming down one of the imagined bronze busts they sorely crave.

I received 2 free hours of advice from a solicitor but had otherwise to fight my case alone as litigant in person because no legal aid was forthcoming. An injustice. It seems my chances of victory were considered low. It is the likelihood of success that is the determining factor when it comes to accessing legal aid and not Justice!

My landlord finally backed down on all injunctive points just before the court hearing itself. However, the action had been brought and had to be settled in or out of court. My solicitor advised that I sign the toothless climb down for the judge would otherwise likely find against me if he judged my action in the circumstances to be unreasonable since a settlement could have been agreed out of court. It was an issue of cost and not one of Justice!

There is an evident injustice here when a party can irresponsibly seek a court injunction and not be held accountable and not be required to sign anything. The one taken to court must sign even if they consider themselves not guilty and want Justice, for doing otherwise may well be seen as wasting court time! So though they failed to obtain any of their injunctive points I signed rather than suffer the possible consequences of being seen as unreasonable in court. Ridiculous! So if I forced the issue into court after my landlord had acceded to all my demands the case could go against me. I therefore chose to sign an injunction that required me to do nothing.

The scales of Justice tipped against me on the grounds of reasonableness and not Justice because my landlord had acquiesced to my demands.

So I signed. After all they had achieved nothing save bad publicity for themselves. My solicitor further informed me that this was not an admission of guilt because done outside of court. Further, the injunction would last for 1 year only.

Love, Light & Laughter
(Written on Flickr 10th May 2011)

Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Soft echo shimmers in the pool disquieten narcissus. New Charter have gazed so intently upon their own reflection for so long that they have lost all touch with reality and become deaf to the distant cries of their humble tenants.

Echo and Narcissus by John Waterhouse (Oil,1903)
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool,UK

The following text is an extract from: A Psychological Perspective on Place by David Russell

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


New Charter Board Director's greedy fingers in rent till fiasco

Ten years ago in 1999/2000 all remaining Tameside Council Housing was transferred to a new Housing Association - New Charter Housing Trust Group Limited - who bent over backwards to 'persuade', or should I say 'hoodwink', tenants to 'vote' for the ‘Big-Switch’ with promised property upgrade inducements, promises there would be no 'fat cats', and promises of greater tenant involvement and democracy with such statements as:

"There can be no payment for Directors under strict Housing Corporation directions".
"Those taking seats on the Boards cannot by law be paid."

From the outset Board Directors were unpaid voluntary workers, but within 2 years they were seeking ways to circumvent these empty promises, seeking ways to line their own pockets at tenant expense! "Consideration to the question of whether or not to make payments to Non–Executive Directors (NEDs) within the Group has taken place over a period of time commencing in 2002." Payments will not "detrimentally affect any promises given to tenants at the time of transfer." Oh, please! Pull the other one!

On 11th August 2004 a 'Working Panel' was established to look into "the possible remuneration of NEDs and to undertake consultation with tenants and other Stakeholders." "It is necessary for the Group to engage in consultation with tenant groups and with other stakeholders including The Housing Corporation. Indeed, because of the reputational aspects relating to the question of payment, even in the absence of a requirement to consult, it would be desirable to do so."

New Charter said: "The Tenants Federation was significantly involved in the consultation period, however I can find no evidence of there being a general mailing or publicity through a newsletter of the Board decision to remunerate Board members." Tenants were not consulted. Nor have they been told that Board Directors remunerate themselves with many thousands of pounds of tenant rent! For 6 years they have kept this secret hidden from most tenants. The majority of tenants do not even belong to a tenant group! Elections have not taken place for 6 years despite the fact they should be held every 3 years! New Charter officer Laura Douthwaite told me, "Tenant Elections take place every 3 years in accordance with the Company’s Articles of Association", and she ought to know because she is in charge of such matters! Still, it is obviously untrue!

The usual exhortations are given for why they DESERVE to be paid! What more can one expect from self-aggrandising puffed-up pompous little egos with an exaggerated sense of their own self-importance! "Governance has become much more complex" and "consequently the expectation and accompanying responsibility is of a magnitude that may not ordinarily be considered to be the mantle of a NED in another sector." "Payment levels will acknowledge the additional responsibilities and time commitments of the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Group’s Boards and Committees." "There is an expectation that [‘we’] will achieve the highest standards of governance and act with the utmost integrity. There is an accompanying requirement to attract NEDs of the highest order who are not only technically aware but who also understand and support the wider social audit issues." Please! Pass the sick bucket!

In 2005 the 'suggested' payment levels were: Board Director £2,000; Trust Chair £5,000; Subsidiary Chair £4,000; & Vice-Chair £3,000. In 2005 they said, "the levels of payment are considered to be of a minimum and are intended to improve commitment and professionalism; as well as enabling a more rigorous form of monitoring and enhanced achievement. The levels of payment are not anticipated to have a detrimental affect on housing provision, services, repairs or investment. Nor will payment detrimentally affect any promises given to tenants at the time of transfer. The level of payments and total cost of payments is considered to be proportionate to the turnover of the Group. The total cost to the Group would be £50,000 against an annual turnover of £43m, this is equivalent to, approximately, 0.09%."

And that’s supposed to justify it! Further, the cost has risen and expanded to include all Boards! Now there's a surprise! How will this 'not' detrimentally affect the promises given at transfer?

In 2008-09 a Board Director received between £3,250 and £5,500; a Chair or Vice-Chair between £7,500 and £19,000! Very lucrative indeed! Co-opted Directors received from £1,500 to £2,000. They continue to remunerate themselves accordingly! No Corporate Social Responsibility here; just an ethically bereft Company.

Love, Light & Laughter

All quotes are taken from New Charter documents in my possession, none of which can be found on 'the Company's' website. They were sent to me by email in easy answer to some of my questions. They will be published on this blog, or be accessible from it, in the near future!

Two months ago I sent a variation of the above by email to both the local 'rags', namely the 'Tameside Advertiser', and the 'Tameside Reporter', neither of which deigned to print them despite several telephone calls and further emails from myself.

Ever since New Charter set their 'legal dogs' on them in 2007 the Tameside Advertiser has been fearful of publishing any letters from me that reference New Charter!  I suspect one of the conditions for not prosecuting a case against them was that they cease to support any 'bad press' activity from myself! But this does not explain the reluctance of the Tameside Reporter!

Other of my letters, both new and old, have also not been printed, while the 'usual suspects' continue to be printed week after week, almost without fail!

Another good reason for my setting up this blog! I appear to be persona non grata!

So much for 'Freedom of the Press'!

Monday, 12 July 2010

New Charter Board Directors remunerate themselves

----- Original Message -----
To: 'Starlord'
Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2010 11:17 AM
Subject: RE: Board Directors and payments received

I have attached documents and response below which I hope answer your questions. In summary, there was a significant amount of discussion and consultation on the matter of Board remuneration which received the Trust Board's support.

From: Starlord
Sent: 06 April 2010 14:26
To: Ardern, John
Subject: Board Directors and payments received

Hi John,

At the time of the LSVT New Charter said:
"There can be no payment for Directors under strict Housing Corporation directions."
"Those taking seats on the Boards cannot by law be paid."

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Have communities REALLY had a say in policy making and decision making?

I think NOT!

(undated on page 11th July 2010)
Northern Housing Consortium News
Northern Housing Consortium Response to Emergency Budget

"The Northern Housing Consortium will be co-ordinating a submission to the Spending Review on behalf of our Members; we are very keen to engage with our members to shape our submission. In the coming weeks we will be requesting information upon examples of:
Effective localism where communities have had a stronger role to play in policy making and decision making improved and/or better transparent use of information
Examples of real community engagement and better and effective engagement with the third sector
Areas where you have made significant budget savings without compromising quality of service"

New Charter Housing Trust are a member of this consortium.

I sincerely hope they are not 'engaged' to "shape 'their' submission", for in Tameside there is no "effective localism" where communities have a say in "policy making and decision making". In fact, New Charter does the very opposite acting to remove any such input through tenant exclusion and lack of information. When a tenant really does want to get involved in such activities and where New Charter are unable to control them they evict them from the process! I know this for a fact and I am not alone in being on the receiving end of such forms of tenant exclusion by this authoritarian landlord! It is probably the case that I am the most excluded! Perhaps this in itself is a badge of honour!

New Charter may very well be able to 'demonstrate' such inclusive practices by reference to their vetted and long-standing 'nodding donkey' tenants and Tenant Directors. They are very few but even so receive most attention by New Charter! Most tenants that become involved do so as lambs to the slaughter. If they cannot be convinced, or should I say coerced, they are 'sidelined', and if persistent they are evicted! Democracy, what democracy!

Love, Light and Laughter

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Starlords very first blog

Stardate 29th June 2010; 23:33 GMT.
Started this first blog post at 23:33. As an astrologer such precision is invaluable to calculating Event Charts.
Just a starter for now as I get the hang of this.
Love, Light & Laughter

Sunday, 22 March 2009

New Charter warns of “greatest threat ever” to locally driven community schemes » Housing » 24dash.com

Published by David Rigby for New Charter Housing Trust Group in Housing
Wednesday 27th February 2008 - 10:04am
"Group Chief Executive Ian Munro has written to local MPs warning of the dangers contained in the Housing Bill, currently going through Parliament. He believes the Bill represents the “greatest threat ever” to the ability of housing associations to ensure neighbourhood schemes are driven by local need, not central direction."

Starlord's comment:
an excerpt:
I personally see no problem in reclassifying housing associations as Public Bodies? A level playing would exist once again between the newly created Social Housing landlords and the remaining Social Council Housing!

Love, Light & Laughter