In April the Cross Ingram Area Residents Association had a meeting with Hilary Benn MP. The main topic of discussion was the delay in starting the housing PFI scheme for Holbeck and Beeston Hill; it was indicated that this delay was due to the current government. It was suggested that the group should contact the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, to explain its concerns and ask for information. A message was duly sent to him (firstname.lastname@example.org) on 25 April and is reprinted below:
I am contacting you on behalf of our residents association (Cross Ingrams Area Residents Association) here in Holbeck, Leeds.
At a recent meeting with our local MP, Hilary Benn, we had a lengthy discussion about a PFI housing scheme that covers our area. This scheme is currently on hold because of some difficulties over its financing and we were told that as Chief Secretary to the Treasury you were responsible for the latest delay in getting it signed off.
The PFI scheme includes the refurbishment of council housing in Holbeck and most of our members live in this housing and so are directly affected by the current situation. The scheme has been bedevilled since it started, many years ago, by delay after delay. Promises have been made by the council regarding its start and then broken time after time. The local residents are extremely frustrated and annoyed by the latest delay and naturally are very sceptical about it ever getting off the ground. They have been told that the PFI will improve their housing to a higher than normal standard and so would naturally like it get under way as soon as possible.
Aire Valley Homes (AVH) manages these council properties and is responsible for their maintenance. Unfortunately, because of the promise of the PFI, it has been reluctant to carry out anything other than the very minimum level of maintenance on those properties covered by the scheme. Over time, this has resulted in severe degeneration of the condition of the housing in the area; windows, doors, walls especially are all suffering from a lack of care and attention. Consequently the housing stock is deteriorating very quickly and it will only get worse the longer is the delay to the start of the PFI. What was once a very smart and pleasant area to live in, one in which the residents were proud to be a part of with a good community spirit, is rapidly becoming very shabby, uncared for and an unhealthy place in which to live.
As the delay with the PFI increases, so the costs will increase and the more unlikely it is that it will provide what was promised. Therefore, we would urge you to ensure that it is signed off with the utmost urgency. Once the refurbishments are completed they will make a big difference to the lives of everybody in our neighbourhood.
I would be pleased to hear from you regarding the latest situation and to let me know when we can expect a resolution to this matter. Furthermore, you are welcome to come to Holbeck to meet the members of our association to explain to them yourself what you are doing to get the PFI back on track. Our next meeting will be held at 7pm on Tuesday, 21 May. Please let me know if you would like to attend.
A response is awaited.