Leaseholders on the Millbank Estate have been told to expect big increases in bills for Major Works in the latest fiasco to Westminster Council’s Housing Department.
The Millbank Estate Major Works tender process began in 2016. In February 2018, the Council’s partnership began with United Living. Leaseholder payments started in mid-2018 and for the past 18 months leaseholders have been paying contributions to their portion of the major works bill, but as yet, no work has been done on the 10 blocks on the estate, comprising 306 flats, where Major Works will be taking place.
The expected tender costs were £3.9m. The United Living costs have now increased to £5.6m, partly because the scope of the work increased. However, some leaseholder’s estimated bills have jumped 100% rather than 40% as a result.
Work was due to start on 6th January 2020 – 4 years after the tender process began – with the works due to be completed by December 2021.
Further delays are now inevitable. On Wednesday 8th January there was a meeting attended by over 50 leaseholders with Westminster Council officers and United Living, the company who will be carrying out the works.
At the meeting, the Council explained the delay in works (unsatisfactory tendering process, a new ten-year deal with United Living, changing the way payments are taken).
Questions from leaseholders focussed on the key issues – why had the costs gone up? why had no work been done? why had it not started?
The answers from the Council and United Living were:
- The costs have gone up because the initial tender process was flawed
- No work has been done because of the delay in changing tender process
- Work has not started because various checks and balances need to be in place, including a leaseholder meeting.
Labour Councillors are supporting Millbank Estate leaseholders and will be raising this issue at the next Council meeting on 22nd January.
Councillor Guthrie McKie, Labour’s Housing Spokesperson, said:
“Westminster’s Housing service remains a failing service. Leaseholders on the Millbank Estate deserve a much better service after paying substantial amounts to the Council and yet no works have started, And with the bills going up by 100% in some cases, detailed questions need to be asked about the tendering process and how the Council could get things so badly wrong”.