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Tenants fear loss of a voice in housing trust shake-up

Could Newlon's management be a good thing for residents at the Barnsbubry estate?

28 January, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

The Barnsbury estate where Newlon has taken full control of the management 

A HOUSING trust that runs thousands of homes across London is due to take control of a housing estate leaving tenants concerned they could lose their voice.

The Barnsbury estate, off Caledonian Road, will be run by the Newlon Housing Trust as of February 1.

The trust is replacing the resident-led Barns- bury Estate Local Management Organisation (Belmo), which had run the blocks for more than 20 years.

Some residents are concerned about the changes but others think this move could kickstart much- needed investment in the estate, which houses about 3,000 tenants.

Bill Thompson, who was voted onto the Belmo board in 2011, said: “Over the years, people have fallen through the cracks at times.

Bill Thompson

“There was not always a clear system that residents could understand. This could be a wonderful opportunity to open up discussions.

“If Belmo can come forward and be clear about what they want and how they are going to champion the residents then this could be a positive move. I believe Newlon have good intentions.”

Dr Thompson resigned from the board in October 2018.

Control of the estate was transferred from the council to Newlon in 1999 following a ballot at the estate.

Newlon was in control of major repairs, rent and transfers while Belmo was given a budget to deal with day-to-day issues.

Keith Wesley, who was Belmo secretary and chairman in the past, said: “The worry is that residents could lose their voice in this shake-up. We put a lot of work into this estate over the years and as residents we knew the place well.”

Newlon held a meet and greet event on Tuesday.

Bill Henderson

Bill Henderson, Newlon’s director of housing services, said: “We felt we had to end the agreement with Bel- mo following concerns about safety. Concerns and red tape have come to a peak following Gren- fell. Justifiably we have to be completely rigorous. Twenty-five years ago it was a little easier for a Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) to run services.

“Some people are passionate about local management but I think most people just want good service. We are a larger group with economies of scale.”

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