BUDGET 2018 - Resident Feedback

  • The meetings of the LVCA take place monthly, alternating between the first Saturday of each month and the first Thursday evening of each month. They typically take place at Lawley Academy, but please check before leaving, as the venue can sometimes change.

    The meetings for 2019 are as follows

    Saturday 5th January 9am to Noon
    Thursday 7th February. 7pm to 9pm
    Saturday 2nd March 9am to Noon
    Thursday 4th April. 7pm to 9pm
    Saturday 4th May. 9am to Noon
    Thursday 6th June. 7pm to 9pm
    Thursday 4th July. 6.30pm to 9pm * time changed due to Lawley fete Saturday 6th July - Noon to 9pm LAWLEY VILLAGE SUMMERFEST LVCA stall
    Thursday 1st August. 7pm to 9pm
    Saturday 7th September 9am to Noon
    Thursday 3rd October. 7pm to 9pm
    Saturday 2nd November. 9am to Noon
    Thursday 5th December. 7pm to 9pm

    All are welcome to attend
  • I wanted to make some comments on the recent announcement of funding for Lawley and some of the reactions and to answer some questions. I will try to answer some of them here, but I would encourage residents to come to our monthly meetings, as we really do discuss all these issues and could give you the answers you may be looking for. In relation to the Stewardship Charge itself, I agree that it is like double taxation. We are legally required to pay it and there is a major democratic deficit in how it is governed. In the last year, there has been a significant change in BVT's level of engagement with us and support for our efforts to make changes. It has taken time, but changes are coming which will address your concerns. Over the last year, I have talked to campaign groups, Homes England, submitted evidence to an inquiry by Sajid Javid, spoken and worked with Lucy Allen, MP, the Parish Council, particularly Jayne Greenaway and with Shaun Davies, Leader of the Council and Raj Mehta, Borough Councillor and Mayor. The LVCA is non-political and we have worked with all parties to try to effect change. We welcomed this funding because it will allow us to fix some of the things residents are concerned about. Bringing infrastructure up to standard and improving the environment we live in. It will provide funding to develop facilities for Lawley, but the most important benefit will be their commitment to working with us to transform governance and to change how stewardship works. We hope also that we can work jointly with the Parish council, the LVDG and Homes England on these changes. I know some residents would like to see the scheme scrapped. Whilst there may be an appetite to reform Leasehold issues and make some changes to Stewardship schemes, I don’t think there is any realistic prospect of legislation to relieve residents of new developments of the burden of management charges. I live in a Band E house and pay roughly £1,960 including Adult Social Care, Police and Fire. On top, we pay a Parish Council Precept of £120 and a Stewardship Charge of £250. It is a lot and we will only change things if we get involved. The Parish Council has a budget of roughly £450K and Stewardship £425K but both budgets will increase significantly over the next few years, as the estate continues its rapid growth. Lawley is a great place to live, but we do have problems. There are quality issues, problems with infrastructure maintenance, adoption of the roads by TWC, costs and control over stewardship, lack of dedicated community facilities, etc. These problems involve lots of agencies including Homes England, Lawley and Overdale Parish Council, TWC, BVT and the Developer Group (LVDG). We need clearer lines of accountability and more co-ordination. In the last year the LVCA has been exploring options. We set up community meetings to consult with residents, looked at other schemes, some managed by commercial companies and others by resident groups. We concluded that the best way forward was: 1. Seek to reform the Stewardship Scheme for Lawley to deliver greater resident control over the budget and priorities and to seek to make it a model of best practice in the future 2. To look at the governance structures set up in Lawley and try to bring each of the key stakeholders to work more collaboratively to resolve some of the problems we face It is in that context that we welcomed the announcement of funding for Lawley to support this process. We have had dozens of residents working with the LVCA, working groups and with BVT. We are are working with an Independent consultant to help us to prepare a report to with our recommendations for transformation of the Stewardship scheme. The LVCA will shortly be sending out a survey to all residents asking for your detailed views on the problems and what your priorities are to get this fixed. (The funding for this is coming from BVT’s central costs, not from the local Stewardship scheme). The survey is independent of BVT and the findings will be shared with all residents through our website. The working groups recommendations combined with the survey results will be the basis for reforming the scheme. If you want change, now is the time to engage with the process to making it happen. I cannot go into all the details but there very positive development and opportunities which could have a huge impact on what Lawley will look like in the future. You are welcome to come to the meetings and join us. On the 4th April, the LVCA will have its AGM, from 7pm to 9pm. We will elect the board and would welcome you to stand or participate in any way you can. If you are interested in standing, contact me.
  • Following our community meeting about the future of the Stewardship Scheme, we have begun work on re-designing the Stewardship Scheme. We have 3 working groups which are

    Group 1 Delivery of Stewardship and Charges – Strategic Objectives
    1. To shape the current and future stewardship offer to Lawley residents.
    2. Identify concerns with regard to services and covenants, complaints and enforcement, including practices and procedures in the Stewardship contract
    3. Develop ideas on how to develop service and covenant delivery, which meets the reasonable aspirations of residents
    4. Clarify service charge expenditure, collection and how residents may influence potential spend of service charges
    5. Develop and improve transparency and information flow on service charges and expenditure for all residents

    Group 2 Establish effective working relationship with the Development Group - Strategic Objectives:
    1. To develop a service level agreement with Lawley Developers, which is considered good practice for “large scale development with residents” from start on site, to handover of sites, which enable stewardship to take early control of matters which are important to residents
    2. Clarify accountabilities of Homes England and Developers during the development and retained responsibilities for Lawley, including how residents and stewardship services can influence this, through meaningful engagement
    3. To develop ideas for a living map of stewardship
    4. To increase transparency on all communications and management of resident expectations

    Group 3 Community Development and Involvement - Strategic Objectives
    1. To shape the current and develop the future community involvement offer for residents of Lawley Village
    2. To define the “Heart of Lawley” offer through local amenities, businesses and public spaces, which meets the aspirations of Lawley residents
    3. To consider options for short, mid and long-term governance structures and alternative democratic processes for local influence, dedicated staffing and local control of resources

    If you would like to participate, please email me on chair@lvca.co.uk
    Jim Weir

Jim Weir

Jim Weir
Staff member
Admin
Oct 1, 2017
97
17
8
3 Church Croft, Lawley Village
#1
BVT have published their proposed budget for 2018. The budget will go to the board for approval on November 1st. We have had a number of consultations on it and following feedback from others, we have submitted a list of questions to BVT. In addition, we have arranged to meet with the new Finance Director for BVT on Monday. Pete Kay and I will be meeting him.

If you have any comments or issues you want raised about the budget now is the time to speak up!!

The Budget is attached. I will add my comments below later, here is your chance to have your views heard

Thanks
 

Attachments

Oct 3, 2017
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#2
Jim, again thank you for taking the lead on this matter. It really does need some order and direction if anything is to be done.

The most recent budget from where I can see makes no reference to companies used in order to maintain the estate? Also there is no transparency about whether this service has been out to tender for the most beneficial option for the residents.

My main concern is that a proportion of the budget is going towards the upkeep of an office in Birmingham. A completely different county.

The lack of transparency about the budget, costs for staff and why they are required and also the services used is concerning. Instead they have used broad areas and coatings.

Can we have an in depth break down of the budget under the freedom of information act?
 

Jim Weir

Jim Weir
Staff member
Admin
Oct 1, 2017
97
17
8
3 Church Croft, Lawley Village
#3
We have requested a more detailed breakdown. I will post the answers on this forum. I have asked for number of hours of each employee. We have asked for them to itemise the headings in more detail and we are planning on the 1st November to vote against the budget. We are having meetings at my house on Thursday evening at 5.30 and on Saturday morning at 10.30. You are welcome to come along to which ever one suits you best. The grounds work is done by BVL, which is a company wholly owned by BVT. We did ask for this to go to competitive tender, but this has been refused. We are now seeking to benchmark the costs versus the PET teams employed by the Parish Council to do similar work, but it is proving challenging to get the information. I have requested this from Sharon George. We are also comparing their costs with other similar organisations.
 

Jim Weir

Jim Weir
Staff member
Admin
Oct 1, 2017
97
17
8
3 Church Croft, Lawley Village
#4
The first of the requested Budget Breakdown's have been given to us. We are meeting the Finance Director on Monday, so should get more information then. The Community Development and Involvement figures are attached. The detailed breakdown is in the attached document for those who want to see them. The spending by heading is as follows:


Support for Community Groups - £79.65
Half Term activities - £216.01
Meetings, Workshops, Rep Mtgs - £277.77
Love where you live event - £142.42
Easter Events - £126.58
Green Gang Youth Project - £33.97
Summer Event (Net after PC help) - £993.11
Lawley 5k Run - £832.09
Christmas Events & Activities - £621.42
Purchase of BVT Domain Name - £31.16
Equipment - £167.85
Youth Club Set Up - £ 1,133.33
Total spend to 10th October 2017 £ 5,455.55

Any comments please post below. Thanks

Jim Weir
 

Attachments

Jim Weir

Jim Weir
Staff member
Admin
Oct 1, 2017
97
17
8
3 Church Croft, Lawley Village
#5
I am supportive of all of this to be honest, except the domain name. I would have thought BVT could pay for that themselves out of the £100K Admin & Governance charges, but lets not fight over £30!! The only other comment is that it seems very skewed towards children's events and we might want to broaden out to include other community groups. What do you all think?
 
Likes: Tom

Chris Herbert

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Oct 3, 2017
14
3
3
#6
I am supportive of all of this to be honest, except the domain name. I would have thought BVT could pay for that themselves out of the £100K Admin & Governance charges, but lets not fight over £30!! The only other comment is that it seems very skewed towards children's events and we might want to broaden out to include other community groups. What do you all think?
What domain name is it? I'd like to look it up. Unless they purchased 10 years worth I'd like to know why they paid £31.16.
 

Tom

New Member
Oct 12, 2017
1
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#7
I am supportive of all of this to be honest, except the domain name. I would have thought BVT could pay for that themselves out of the £100K Admin & Governance charges, but lets not fight over £30!! The only other comment is that it seems very skewed towards children's events and we might want to broaden out to include other community groups. What do you all think?
Hi Jim,

First of all I would just like to echo the comments of others and thank you for taking a lead on this.

I couldn't agree more with you on this one, my partner and I have said on many occasions that the majority, if not all community involvement activities seem to be aimed at families with small children.
When we were going through the process of buying our house we were told that the management company would be organising opportunities for the community to get together though various activities etc. We have not really seen any evidence of this since moving in.

I for one think that the range of options here could be greatly improved to accommodate a much wider audience.
 

Jim Weir

Jim Weir
Staff member
Admin
Oct 1, 2017
97
17
8
3 Church Croft, Lawley Village
#12
Sorry for long delay, I was away: Update on BVT Budget

Following our budget consultation meetings, Pete Kay and I met with the Finance Director of BVT to discuss your concerns. In relation to the £520K put into the sinking fund, we asked for reassurance that these funds are protected, can only be used for Lawley Village and that in the event of a surplus and/or bankruptcy or transfer of management scheme to another entity that these funds are protected. General reassurance was given, but we have asked for the funds to be reflected as reserved funds in the general accounts and for a written legal opinion or statement that these funds are protected. Although the Department of Communities and Local Government website states that Estate Management services are not regulated, BVT’s position is that the funds are legally protected and can only be used and spent in Lawley and that in the event of bankruptcy the receiver would not be able to access these funds. We have asked for copies of the legal agreements which specify this.


In relation to the budget, Becci’s view (The Manager at BVT) is that my recent posts are unfair to them. In particular, they feel that I was wrong to compare their BVL services against the PET team of the Parish Council. They think this in unfair because:


1. I included the total costs of the service including materials and other costs and

2. I compared hours of service, when they are working on a schedule of rates, not on an hourly rate


This is correct. I did compare those, in order to benchmark them against the costs of the PET team, because I was told the PET costs include the on costs and supplies. In relation to the comparison against the hours of service, the use of the Schedule of Rates method makes benchmarking impossible as we would have to know how many minutes each task by each team takes. This is unwieldy and unreasonable. I take the view that reducing the total costs of services delivered to an hourly cost of delivery to be a legitimate methodology for comparison. In terms of how many hours, Becci says that the Schedule of Rates method means that this is not reliable and anyway the hours are “closer to 40”. The hourly rates even if we increased them from 30 to 40 hours would still be very significantly higher than the PET team. (The 30 hours figure was based on an email from Becci on the 12th October in which I asked how many hours BVL worked on the contract. Her reply was “It was 30, but we are moving to a SOR for each phase as they come over”). I think it would have been clearer if I had stated that BVL don’t use hours as a benchmark but I don’t think it is unreasonable for us to do so.


In relation to the budget overall, the core concern remains value for money. BVT have provided detailed explanation of the costs and they are more open about this than I think a traditional management company would be. But being transparent about the costs is not the same as providing value for money.


The cost of Governance, Management & Administration in 2017 was £70K and will increase to £94.5K which is an increase of 35%.


We were told that BVT do not charge us a percentage fee and that these are based on actual costs. There is no significant increase in staffing, the number of properties has increased, but not by 35% and inflation is running at a max of 3%. I cannot see how this can be justified, even if BVT can “prove” they have spent this money.


We will make this point at the Trustees budget meeting on Wednesday. Those who are interested in serving on the committee have been invited to this meeting, and I hope that we will get a good turnout.


I will attach some of the documents provided by BVT to support the budget and will make a further post about the accountability issues people are raising in relation to BVT.
 

Attachments