Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Lots of word but no ACTION - maybe its time for the truth.

Yet again the Former Library at York Road is mentioned in the local press as being a building at risk. YEP 27th June 2012

And to be honest when we see it COVEN gets a strong feeling of deja vu coupled with anger, disappointment and sadness.  

Since 2008 we have campaigned to save this amazing grade 2 listed building and along the way have discovered and shared with many people including local press and local councillors facts we have learnt along the way.

So in yet another attempt to out this appalling scandal we will tell you what we know - and lets make it very clear - COVEN will print nothing on this page which is not backed up with a piece of paper or email  to evidence it. Evidence we are happy to share.

We do understand that there isnt a jot of evience that can prove the owners have left this building to reduce to a near pile of rubble,  but if you only pay £17,000 for something you dont value it highly and the land is potentially worth a great deal - its on the main A64 for a start,  and its mentioned in the plans for the Rushbond development of the "All Saints Centre" a mixed used development which may or may not go ahead in the future.  

The evidence for this are the land registry deeds, which clearly shows  that City East Ltd a subsidiary of Rushbond Plc has a restrictive covenant on the property........basically "a you will sell it to me clause " We wonder if Jonathan Maud knows it was sold by the council for SEVENTEEN THOUSAND POUND. (we have a letter to Hilary Benn MP confirming that)

UNILATERAL NOTICE in respect of a contract dated 23
December 2009 made between (1) Jason Gary Butler and The Old Library House Limited and (2) City East Limited.
5 (06.01.2010) BENEFICIARY: City East Limited (Co. Regn. No.06028128) of Hawthorn Park, Coal Road, Leeds LS14 1PQ.

COVEN met on 23rd Sept 2010  with Jonathan Maud and he was perfectly open about the fact that he spoke regularly to Jason Butler about the All Saints development and the library.

What we dont understand is how in the deeds it says

(01.11.2006) The price stated to have been paid on 23 January 2006 was £200,000 plus VAT!!!!!!!!!!!

So prior to purchase in 2006 the owner got planning permssion to turn it into a rather handsome office block - (we have the plans and it would have been very swish indeed). But no the owner did nothing and even tried to sell it with a book price of £300k later on.

Here starts the evidence of the buildings decline.............and we have evidence of every word we say below:-

January 2008 - the building was boarded up as it was suffering from vandalism. Leeds City Council boarded it up and served notice on the owner to stump up the cash. In October 2008 we can evidence that the owner didnt even have the keys to the building and had to ask for them from LCC!

From 2008 onwards we have evidence that LCC served several  Section 78 Building Act 1984 - Emergency Measures Dangerous Structures Notices.

But the building fell further and further into decline and in November 2009 the roof tiles were stripped off in their entirety. Which left a stunning building open to the elements.

In June 2010 the building was insecure so we had an opportunity to peep inside and take photos, and it made us weep. The water damage was dreadful and vandalism was clearly taking place.  

So on  17th June 2010 COVEN  went to the Inner East Area committee and complained. And in the meantime we lobbed in a few Freedom of Information requests which due to our inexperience at the time failed,(miserably)  

But we were invited to speak to the conservation officer and planning department. We were busy that day as in the morning we had been to see Rushbond, but Phil Ward and Richard Fenton of LCC were far from helpful  so we left and in the evening went back to the area committee and complained about the officers behaviour.

This worked a treat and in early Oct 2010 we met again with the same officers - but with Cllr G Hyde and Cllr R Brett in tow. Its strange how a couple of councilors can make a difference to a conversation - we learnt lots and lots and after a quick call to legal we were told of the figure of £17k.

At this meeting we asked for a LCC to serve notice that a temporary roof was needed and it was agreed that the Cllrs would ask that the money be made available to back up the request for a repair. On the 18th November 2010 we were pleased to hear that the money had been secured and notice would be served on the owners to force a repair of the roof. Then at least she would be waterproof!

The owner commenced repairs in early january  2011 - and since then although the cover is diabolical and needs re doing as it started to rip pretty much as it was put on. (yes we have photos to prove that too) as the building was again insecure in April 2011.

AND FINALLY -------- how many times we have told this story i cannot remember - it must run to thousands. We have told the press in various forms complete with evidence and they wont touch it with a bargepole apparently for fear of being sued by the owner. We cant comment we have never met them.

COVEN has the evidence, emails, deeds, photos, letters to show that many people have been complicit in allowing this building to fall into decline, we have no proof however that the owners have intentionally let it fall into ruin to allow it to be demolished so we cant and wont accuse anybody of that - but there is only so much abuse a building can take.


Come on press - we are waiting to hear  from you, every email we have was obtained legally, every photo obtained by just walking in when she was opened by vandals - and we have evidence to show we have always reported any damage that may require urgent repair to LCC to serve yet another repair notice to make her safe. I watch and wait by the COVEN email with bated breath...............  

Sarah Covell

Monday, 11 June 2012

COVEN Secret shopper claims its first victims

Our most recent post asking for help about a HMO property was emailed on the 1st June 2012 at  13:52 to the following people. 

Hilary Benn MP

George Mudie MP

Cllr Ron Grahame

Cllr Asghar Khan 

Cllr Maureen Ingham 

As of 11:15am on Monday 11th June not one of them has responded.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Dear Chris, I am writing with regard to application reference 12/01163/FU

Chris Sanderson
Leeds City Council Planning Department
Leonardo Building
2 Rossington Street
Leeds LS2 8HD

1st June 2012.
Dear Chris, 
I am writing with regard to application reference 12/01163/FU Change of use of two houses to form two five bedroom Houses in Multiple Occupation, 13 East Park Place and 16 East Park Mount. I understand this property is subject to an appeal against a licence refusal for the two properties to be converted into houses in multiple occupations.
As I live in close proximity to both properties I would like to bring the following to your attention.  Prior to 2008 they were disused retail outlets, which in 2006 suffered a huge  gas explosion which ripped the steel door shutters off with force of the explosion. Shortly after they were sold by auction.
Without any change of use or planning consent  13 East Park Place was converted into 2 self contained flats. I assume that the property at 16 East Park Mount was also altered at the same time as they are a distinct pair.  The property was then managed by Care Accomodation  by a Mr Naseem Aslam.  As far back as October 2008 I have witnessed this disgusting state of this property. It was badly converted in 2008 and indeed was brought to your attention at Richmond Hill forum in May 2008 and it has suffered considerable neglect ever since. In October 2008 the property was   inspected by environmental health and the property was removed from the register of available housing for emergency provision. During this time I was in touch with my local councillors & Hilary Benn MP  and enclose a copy of a letter sent to him explaining about this property.
“Inspections have been undertaken by the Emergency Accommodation Team during September and October 2008, which reveal that other disrepair issues exist at the property that have not been addressed and therefore as the Emergency Accommodation Team proposed to remove their tenants from the property the Council’s Health & Environmental Action Service plan to inspect the property and take action as deemed appropriate under the Housing Act legislation.” – James Wigginton LCC.
Was any notice served – I suspect not?  Since this date the properties have deteriorated even further – until earlier this month I have only witnessed the  exteriors, however on bank holiday Monday 2012   I went with the recently ex tenant of 16 East Park Mount  to document the inside of the property prior to her returning the keys. What I saw shocked me to the core. The landlord was Care Property Services.
The entirety of the property is rotten, with no damp course the house is covered in black mould from the attic to the cellar, which has standing water in it during wet weather. It has totally inadequate heating and ventilation, no damp course which is obviously urgently needed and was clearly unfit for human habitation. What also concerned me was the conversion to a HMO has clearly already begun – including several showers and even a kitchen in the attic space!  I appreciate the company owning the property may be different but if selective licensing had actually viewed this property I doubt it would have ever have been licensed. It is clearly a hazard to human health. I wish to reiterate that up to April 19th 2012  this property had a tenant in! The tenant who is willing if required to speak to LCC  has evidence of ceiling collapses and severe damp over the period of 12months she lived there. This tenant was supported by LCC and had a community psychiatric nurse and was very vulnerably housed and is now suffering from considerable health problems due to poor living conditions.
With regard to either house being a House in Multiple Occupation I wish to object in the strongest terms. The area is already densely populated and has no infrastructure to support the vulnerable tenants that are targeted by Care Property Services as being too compliant to complain.  I will, if required speak publically against this appeal as I cannot over estimate how disgusted I am at both the state of the property and LCCs neglect of care in regard to the licensing of this property and duty of care for potentially very vulnerable people. 
A picture tells a thousand words so I attach some photos  of the inside and exterior of the properties over a period of years. Including the recent pictures of conversion, faulty electrics and lack of suitable fire doors and emergency exits. I also enclose a copy of the letter Hilary Benn was sent and will be copying him into the information I am sending you. Regardless of any appeal these houses should not be let until they meet the minimum standards required both inside and outside.
 However I have returned from work this evening to discover that it appears that 13 East Park Place now has tenants in. Is the house fit to live in, was the tenant placed there via LCC, is housing benefit being paid for substandard accommodation?  I don’t know but I watch and wait with interest to see significant improvements in the near future.

Yours sincerely,   Sarah Covell COVEN

Mould in bathroom - ground floor

Bedroom wall - first floor

Attic - Damp ceiling