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)