'There are good and bad housing associations as there are good and bad councils, Pavilion is an example of a bad housing association, a bad landlord.' -- David January, Waverley head of housing
Most organisations, following damning criticisms by government watchdogs, industry regulators, would make some efforts to get their act together, even if it was only cosmetic, but not it seems Pavilion.
Tenants are finding that the situation is rapidly worsening, repairs are not being carried out, yobs are running riot on the estates. Any inquiries to Pavilion are met with an extremely rude response, that it is none of your business. Senior staff are permanently unavailable and fail to return calls.
A lady was woken in the early hours of the morning to hear running water. She was horrified to find a pipe had burst and water was pouring through the ceiling. She called the Pavilion emergency number and got no response. Eventually someone did call, but it took nearly three hours. To add insult to injury, Pavilion offered a few decorating vouchers as recompense for the damage caused. They are refusing to pay for the damage to her possessions, saying she should claim it on her insurance.
Pavilion employ a community warden. They then use him as a general dogsbody. He is actually paid for by the local taxpayer, not Pavilion. Concerned at this abuse of taxpayers funds, Andrew Lloyd (Rushmoor chief executive) had a meeting with the warden. When Pavilion found out, Pavilion grounded the warden and made him remain in the office for two weeks. The warden has since been forbidden to speak to any councillors.
If a RSL sells off any assets, it has to seek maximum value so that the money is ploughed back into the organisation to the benefit of the RSL and its tenants.
Pavilion is forcing its tenants out of Firgrove Court so their homes can be cleared to make way for a car park for superstore, part of an unwanted town centre redevelopment in Farnborough. From a statement made by Pavilion chief executive Mervyn Jones, who says they are not making millions, Pavilion would appear to not be realising the full value of this prime town centre site.
Questioned on this, a low level low calibre official at Pavilion said they had engaged in consultation, the tenants had said no, they did not wish to move, but he was not going to allow them to veto it. Asked what would happen if they refused to move, he said the property would be left to fall down around their ears. An explicit admission of harassment by neglect, which is a criminal offence.
Asked of the site they are supposed to be relocated to, which shows no sign of being built, he said Pavilion would put the tenants elsewhere. Thus those tenant who have signed away their rights on the understanding of where they are being moved to, have been conned.
Asked why they were keen to dispose of the land, what was the benefit to Pavilion, he said it was to benefit the developers, that is of no benefit to Pavilion, and that it was to please the council.
The official then got extremely rude, started shouting down the phone, and said it was none of my business, and slammed the phone down.
I am still awaiting an apology from Pavilion for the behaviour of this jumped up little nobody.
A legal agreement exists between the developer and Pavilion, which allegedly protects the rights of the tenants at Firgrove Court. No one is allowed to see this agreement, not even the tenants it allegedly protects.
What is Pavilion trying to hide?
The transfer of this land and the manner in which it has been handled, is now under investigation by the industry regulator, the Housing Corporation.
Hauled before a Rushmoor committee in July to explain Pavilion's piss-poor performance following the Audit Commission damning report, Mervyn Jones (Pavilion chief executive) was lacking an operations director. She had the good sense to leave the sinking ship before the Audit Commission report saw the light of day as it would have not looked too good on her CV. This put Mervyn Jones on the spot as he hasn't a clue what goes on within his own organisation. He did though assure the committee that he would soon have someone in place and that they would be up to the job.
It has therefore amazed all onlookers the post has been taken by an internal appointment, by someone who from their track record is not up to the job, and critics have not been proved wrong. To date, no matter what he has been asked, the reply is he does not know.
No one is surprised at this. A year ago, grilled on Pavilion about to acquire charitable status, he was not able to answer a single question put to him.
What everyone realises, except the person currently occupying the post of Operations Director, is that he has been put in place as the fall guy. The man Mervyn Jones will sacrifice to try to save his own neck.
It is not only their tenants and local councillors who think Pavilion are crap. At a briefing for Waverley council tenants to explain to them the 'merits' of privatisation, David January, Waverley head of housing, nevertheless went out of his way to tell his tenants that Pavilion was an example of a bad housing association, a bad landlord.
Rushmoor councillors are calling for the resignation of Pavilion chief executive Mervyn Jones.
So disgusted is Rushmoor housing portfolio holder David Welch with Pavilion's piss-poor performance, that he has suspended all grant aid to Pavilion and is looking at what further measures can be taken against Pavilion. Rushmoor is now actively seeker other partners for any future social housing development.
From his recent comments – that he has the full support of his board, that he has the confidence of the Housing Corporation, that the Audit Commission did not publish a damning report, that he heads an organisation to be proud of – Mervyn Jones appears to have lost all grasp of reality.
Pavilion has recently renegotiated a rescheduling of all its loans. How long will it take for the City to realise Pavilion is a failing housing association and pull the plug on all loans?
Pavilion is registered charity. An investigation by the Charity Commission seems to be long overdue.
6-30pm Wednesday 3 November 2004, a meeting of Pavilion tenants and interested parties has been called to discuss repairs, merger with Atlantic and anti-social behaviour. Representatives from Pavilion, including Mervyn Jones, and the police, will be there to answer questions. Few expect Jones to still be in position. Connaught School, Aldershot (off Tongham Road).
Defend Council Housing are holding a National Conference 10-30am to 4.30pm Friday 29 October 2004 at the TUC, Congress House, London.
Rebecca Chard, Pavilion faces fresh roasting, Aldershot News, 15 October 2004
Inspection report: Pavilion Housing Association, Audit Commission, July 2004
Mervyn Jones, Action plan for housing, letters, Farnborough News, 22 October 2004
Keith Parkins, Audit Commission savage Pavilion Housing Association, Indymedia UK, 27 July 2004
Keith Parkins, The Scandal of Firgrove Court, Indymedia UK, 31 August 2004
Keith Parkins, Housing Corporation savage Pavilion Housing Association , 18 October 2004
Keith Parkins, Waverley propaganda on housing privatisation, Indymedia UK, 22 October 2004
Pavilion fails to respond, Farnborough Mail, 19 October 2004