Hundreds of pounds a year on crumbling walls and no lights for residents

Wimbledon Guardian: Residents of Carters Estate in Raynes Park Residents of Carters Estate in Raynes Park

Housing estate residents paying hundreds of pounds a year in service charges are demanding better value for money as walls crumble around them.

Merton Priory Homes, part of Circle Housing, charges Carters Estate residents in Raynes Park more than £500 a year for grounds maintenance, cleaning, lighting, caretakers and TV aerials.

But tenants claim they have been left with lights out, entry doors unsecured, walls collapsing and cars left abandoned on site for months.

Kevin Whincup, chairman of Carters Estate residents' association, said: "The majority of lighting on the estate is not working, both external lamps and lighting within some of the communal areas.

"Also there are no emergency lights.

"We have not had a caretaker since about March last year, but we are still paying for one. While service charges have risen, cleaning staff have been reduced from three to one."

Circle Housing disputed the reduction of caretaking and cleaning hours on the site, but admitted failure to provide adequate lighting and secure entry doors.

Mark Anderson, director of property services at Circle Housing Merton Priory, said: "We are working closely with our customers to identify, investigate and resolve any issues across the estate and consult with them on all associated costs.

"This work includes repairing, renewing and replacing lighting and we will consult with tenants and leaseholders on the proposed costs from our suppliers this month.

"We apologise if customers feel let down by our response so far but would urge them to contact our customer services team directly who are best placed to address all questions or concerns."

Since the start of the new year, the Wimbledon Guardian has been inundated with complaints about the housing association, with customers turning to the newspaper after saying they were getting no response from Merton Priory.

Over the last two years, Merton Priory has signed off tens of thousands of pounds for an outdoor gym and series of low gabion walls Carters Estate residents said they do not want.

On the other side of the borough, Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden, has also been swamped with complaints from constituents about the housing association.

Ms McDonagh, who organises advice sessions for Merton Priory residents, said: "We have had complaints about the quality of some of the contractors who are doing Merton Priory Homes' work, costing them a lot of money and making the contractors a lot of money."

Tenants’ charges have increased by about one per cent per year over the past three years, after service charges were capped as part of Circle Housing Merton Priory’s five year promise, made when housing stock was transferred from Merton Council to Circle Housing Merton Priory in 2010.

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