'Good riddance to him. I hope this means a new beginning for Pavilion. Perhaps Pavilion will now start looking after its tenants and consulting them more.' -- Peter Sandy, Rushmoor councillor and community activist
Pavilion Housing Association, is what was once Rushmoor council housing, privatised ten years ago. Mervyn Jones has been chief executive during that period.
To the tenants, Jones was an unmitigated disaster. They have seen their homes fall into disrepair, yobs run riot on their estates. A general malaise has settled over Pavilion, it was an organisation that held its tenants in complete contempt. Money could be found for pie-in-the-sky schemes, consultants, high salaries for the senior staff, but no money for repairs. Tenants were left waiting months, if not years, for repairs to be carried out. Queries to Pavilion, be they from tenants or interested or affected parties, were treated with rudeness and arrogant contempt.
The position of Jones became untenable, following the publication of a damning report by the Audit Commission, followed shortly thereafter by an equally damning report by the industry regulator the Housing Corporation.
Two or three councillors were calling for Jones to go, his tenant were calling for him to go, Rushmoor chief executive and the cabinet member responsible for housing were privately briefing that Jones should go, but still Jones would not go. He claimed, he had the support of the board.
The final blow came when Rushmoor cut off all funding to Pavilion. Privately, it was made known, that there was no possibility of funding being restored whilst Jones remained.
Jones resignation comes into affect the end of January 2005. Owen Ingram is taking over as acting chief executive.
The resignation of Jones is good news, but it is only a step in the right direction.
The senior management has to go, the entire board needs clearing out. What were the board doing whilst this mess was occurring? In particular the Rushmoor councillors and Pavilion tenants who sit on the board?
Equally, what was Rushmoor housing department doing, especially the head of the housing department?
The resignation of Jones is a step in the right direction, but a lot more heads need to roll.
There also needs to be a complete change of mindset at Pavilion, where the tenants come first, where the tenants are directly involved in all decision making. There has to be root and branch reform at Pavilion.
Two things have to happen, a change in mindset that puts the tenants first, and a halt to the proposed merger with Eastleigh-based Atlantic.
There has to be a concentration by Pavilion on repairs, on putting their existing housing stock in order. Until they can demonstrate they can manage their existing housing stock, there should be no further development.
This raises a question mark against the recent appointment of Paula France to focus on new development.
Tenants have one man to thank, and that is Peter Sandy. A councillor since June 2004, he has for many years campaigned tirelessly on behalf of tenants. He has done so in spite of threats and intimidation from Pavilion, including threats of eviction, threats of ASBOs.
The hypocrisy of Rushmoor councillors is sickening. Apart from two or three, none of them were speaking out against Pavilion. But once Mervyn Jones had announced his resignation, they were queuing up to put the boot in.
The worst by far has to be the leader of the LibDem group, a man unfit to be a councillor let alone a group leader, who by his action and crass comments, is doing the LibDems immense damage.
This hypocrite claims Jones was a success until the last two years. A statement that is patently untrue, and shows how out of touch with reality he is. And if it was true, why was he not speaking out during the last two years? Far from speaking out, until Jones announced his resignation, this hypocrite was defending Pavilion, even worse, he was going out of his way to undermine Peter Sandy. He was dragged around a Pavilion estate last summer, but failed to deliver on any promises made. The measure of the man, was when he told Pavilion to ignore repairs put in by Peter Sandy on behalf of tenants.
But then, he is more interested in protecting the position of his father-in-law, who sits on the board of Pavilion. A man who has kept silent and done nothing about the mess Pavilion was sinking into. A man who helped push through a planning decision to which Pavilion were an interested party. A man who is currently under investigation by the Standards Board for England and facing the possibility of five years disqualification from being a councillor.
Two people who Pavilion tenants should think twice about voting for should they ever have the gall to stand for re-election to the council.
Farnborough LibDems are currently conducting what claims to be a survey of repairs of Pavilion tenants. Questions are asked on repairs, but also ethnicity, age, who you vote for, and for what is claimed to be an anonymous survey, name, address, telephone number, e-mail address. As father-in-law's name is associated with this survey, it begs the question who is it for: Farnborough LibDems or Pavilion?
Any tenants who receive this survey should promptly bin it, unless of course they wish to retain it as evidence to accompany a formal complaint to the Standards Board for England and the Information Commissioner (what used to be the Data Protection Registrar).
Pavilion have recently engaged Dome as their consultants. The same people Waverley engaged to give their tenants 'independent' advice on privatisation of their homes. At a recent private briefing to Rushmoor at the end of last year, Pavilion said they intend to take over the housing of Waverley if the merger with Eastleigh-based Atlantic goes ahead.
No conflict of interest there then.
Surprise, surprise, Dome recommended privatisation.
Pavilion tenants will have no say on the proposed merger with Atlantic. Waverly tenants are to be pushed into a housing association against the expressed wishes of their tenants. Waverley tenants will have no say, if once in a housing association, that association is sold to the merged Pavilion-Atlantic group.
At the last count, over 1600 people had signed a petition opposing the merger. And that is only in Aldershot and Ash. Pavilion tenants in Farnborough have not yet had the opportunity to sign the petition. Many of those who have signed, were not even aware of the merger until asked to sign the petition.
Pavilion briefed Rushmoor on the merger at a secret, behind closed-doors session. Once again showing the contempt Pavilion and Rushmoor have not only for Pavilion tenants, but also the local community.
Rebecca Chard, Hoping for a new Pavilion, Farnborough News, 14 January 2005
Inspection report: Pavilion Housing Association, Audit Commission, July 2004
Housing association boss is leaving, Farnborough Mail, 11 January 2004
Cliff Mogg, 'Good riddance' as housing chief goes, Surrey-Hants, 13 January 2005
Keith Parkins, Audit Commission savage Pavilion Housing Association, Indymedia UK, 27 July 2004 http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2004/07/295403.html
Keith Parkins, Crisis meeting at Pavilion Housing Association, Indymedia UK, 28 July 2004
Keith Parkins, Pavilion v Atlantic, Indymedia UK, 6 September 2004
Keith Parkins, Pavilion and Atlantic Housing Groups to Merge?, Indymedia UK, 13 September 2004
Community activist Peter Sandy quits Rushmoor LibDems, Indymedia UK, 28 September 2004
Keith Parkins, Pavilion Housing Association lurches from bad to worse, Indymedia UK, 22 October 2004
Keith Parkins, Social housing privatisation scam, Indymedia UK, 2 November 2004
Keith Parkins, Waverley to privatise housing stock, Indymedia UK, 18 January 2005