Annual General Meeting
CGA's Annual General Meeting took place on Thursday 7th September 2023. This year we had two screenings, at Harbour House on Preston Docks and also The Courtyards, one of our extra-care schemes. As well as this, we live streamed the AGM so tenants could tune in from the comfort of their own homes. Watch the 2023 Annual General Meeting below. On the evening we receieved apologies from 13 members.
We also received a range of questions which are listed below with our response.
A lot of owners of dogs have put up gates in the communal garden which has cut off access to a few fire escape doors as the gates are shut there. Can something be done about this? The gardeners also cannot access this area to strim and cut the hedges.
Whilst we welcome responsible pet owners and encourage our tenants to enjoy the outside spaces in around their homes, on occasions this can affect others and sometimes prevents us from carrying out our grounds maintenance service. If anyone is affected then a report should be made to our Tenancy Management Team, who will investigate any concerns raised, and where necessary take appropriate action.
Is it going to be easier for people on the waiting list with select move to be allocated a property now you are building so many across Preston?
The demand for CGA properties currently exceeds the number we have available, building a variety of homes to meet different needs will support the waiting list and expand our offer of choice to you. The cost of living crisis has resulted in more people looking for social housing which means demand may remain high for the foreseeable future.
Why is the Purple Pantry closing its doors on the 8th September? This is a vital resource for all CGA tenants to access.
Introduced during the pandemic, the Purple Pantry provided much needed low-cost food to many of our tenants, however, visitor numbers have dramatically declined since that time. During August of this year, the Pantry was visited by 178 households, with only 95 using it more than once. This means that less than 2% of Gateway tenants were using it regularly.
During the last few months, the costs of running the Purple Pantry increased significantly, and with visitor numbers reducing substantially, the pantry was unable to cover its running costs. Consultation with tenants as part of The Big Conversation last year told us that tenants want us to focus on delivering essential landlord services and doing them well. Tenants told us that if we had to make savings and pullback on services, we should consider those services that were costly to deliver and only benefitted a small number of tenants.
To keep the pantry open this year we would need to find an additional £44,000 and this was not sustainable based on the number of customer benefiting from the provision, given the feedback from our consultation events.
We also considered the impact that closing the pantry would have on tenants who did use it regularly, and our Tenancy Support team have contacted those affected to offer money advice, welfare benefit checks and signposting to alternative food provision across Preston.
The Purple Pantry has donated its fridges, freezers, shop equipment, and remaining food stock to various food banks and hubs across the City to benefit the wider community.
For the latest information on food support in Preston, visit the Help In Preston website.
What do our service charges cover and how do we dispute these if we have any issues with these charges?
Service charges cover the cost of any additional services you receive from us, for example grounds maintenance or communal lighting.
We are committed to making sure that tenants only pay for the services they receive and, where they are charged, these services are provided effectively and efficiently. The costs of delivering these services has risen significantly in the past year, and well above the rate of inflation. We are keen to make sure service charges remain affordable and limited the increase for 2023/24 to 11.1%. Even with this increase we will still be providing these services at a loss and so we will review these services over the coming year to make sure everyone pays a fair price for the services they receive. If you would like to discuss your service charge with us, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The Watermills – Broughton: Why are flats not being offered at a fair rate as per other flats Gateway own/£960 pcm is nowhere near a reasonable rent for a housing association. Could you please explain this £960? This is more than double the rent I pay at the moment. I believe this is against Gateway’s values of offering affordable rent.
The market rent valuation reflects the high specification and location of the properties. As the cost of The Watermills was part funded through a grant from Homes England, we are required to charge rent that is equivalent to 80% of the Market Rent for that type of accommodation in order to ensure the viability of the scheme. This is known as an affordable rent. It is calculated in accordance with a method recognised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and is intended to help ensure that registered providers adopt a consistent and transparent approach to the valuation of market rents.
When are you going to invest in the current stock, which is getting left behind? Your older stock has not been invested in since Stock Transfer. If you are committed to helping the environment, and driving down fuel poverty for tenants, there is no better time to make that invest commitment than now with better Heating and Solar Panels and triple glazing. Do you plan as boilers need replacing to replace them with Heat Pump Boilers?
To deliver the Government’s target of achieving net zero carbon by 2050 we will be investing in improving the energy efficiency of our homes. This will be a large, long term project and will include measures such as installing triple glazing, solar panels and the upgrading of heating systems where appropriate.