What is A Better Arlington about?
WHO IS INVOLVED IN 'A BETTER ARLINGTON'?
There are 7 of us ready to form a new committee, and a wider group of people who have signed up to support and get involved on different issues. You can view the committee profiles on the committee page
WHAT WILL THE CONSTITUTION BE?
At first, we are adopting the existing constitution of the AHRLA.
Within this document there are statutory obligations / legal requirements that we agree with - for instance how tenants can join the committee. However, we anticipate that, in discussion with members, the constitution will evolve to reflect a changing way of doing things.
WHY DO WE NEED AN ASSOCIATION?
We need much more say in the day-to-day service we receive from Freshwater and from PS&B, the managing agents. If we get legal recognition, that guarantees us more of a voice than we have now.
We want a legal right to input into the big decisions about the future of the block and how our money is spent.
Strength in numbers - we think a revived association could be more effective than individual residents trying to get things done because we can speak with a louder voice.
Coordination and communication - individuals and small groups can get a lot done, however there is a need for overall coordination so that we aren’t pulling in different directions, and for greater communication so that everyone knows what’s being done on their behalf.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE CURRENTLY SIGNED UP?
So far we have 68 individuals who replied to the call out.
This is 58 long leaseholders (both resident and non-resident) and 10 rent paying tenants
WILL FRESHWATER/ PS&B RECOGNISE US?
PS&B have been quite helpful as we have progressed with plans. Our take is that they would very much like a Residents Association in order to give them clear guidance on majority residents wishes. I know some people fear that PS&B will use a Residents Association to disengage with individual residents but legally, they can’t do so. There is also the fact that at the moment, because they receive so many requests from different residents, it leaves them with too much space to decide whose instructions to follow. The goal is to make PS&B more, not less responsive to our needs.
Freshwater is currently saying, via PS&B, that they will recognise the Association once we reach the legal minimum of 50% of named long leaseholders which is 59. We currently have 58 and so expect to pass that threshold very shortly. Once we have, Freshwater might still stall and we would have the option of forcing them to recognise us at Tribunal but we are hoping that PS&B are correct in assuring us that they will do so voluntarily.
HOW WILL THINGS WORK?
We don’t have all these answers now. We want the new Association to be as participatory as possible so we have tried not to set out too much in advance beyond the small number of principles we have shared:
Be nice. We are suggesting a Code of Conduct gets voted in to ensure that being involved in the RA doesn’t become a downer and put people off from engaging.
We will give everyone the chance to vote on priorities and key choices, not decide for you.
We want tenants to be as fully involved as possible within the law
That said, many have asked us for more to be laid out now, before the Association restarts and so we are also including a bit more draft thinking here.
WHAT WILL THE CAPACITY OF THE ASSOCIATION BE?
AHRLA is a volunteer project - that goes for the members as well as the committee.
The potential work of the Association is endless, given the complexity of the building and the number of issues.
We don’t yet know how many people will have time to be actively involved in different ways but we need to avoid the burn-out which kills off voluntary associations by setting out with shared realistic expectations.
That’s why setting our priorities together is so important - identifying the most important things that the Association should address, whilst encouraging residents to take on smaller things that they are passionate about.
WHAT WILL THE COMMITTEE DO?
We see our job as
Taking on a few big things directly
Coordinating the work of the whole association
Encouraging wider participation
Taking responsibility for communications
WHAT ABOUT EXISTING WORKING GROUPS?
The existing working groups are the foundation to what we are trying to achieve. This is an opportunity for us to build on those groups, add other priorities and come together under one umbrella.
We want to coordinate with and support any groups that are taking things on at Arlington.
So those that are already running are an asset and it feels like a couple of others might be needed. We just want to create an umbrella to make sure that what they are doing is known and shared and that, where needed, the whole membership can vote on options.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE EXISTING GOOGLE GROUPS?
There are currently two Google groups:
Arlington House - for Leaseholders (54 members)
Hello Neighbour - a mutual aid group open to all (26 members)
We will need a dedicated email group for A Better Arlington that is open to all the leaseholder members and the tenant associate members, and is subject to the code of conduct (we also intend to use other forms of communication as well, the notice boards, SMS etc to cover as many people as possible)
But as there may be some people who are members of the existing groups but who do not wish to join A better Arlington, it may be best for us to start a new group.
We would welcome the opportunity to simplify communication for everyone but any decision to combine existing groups with the association would have to be at the discretion of the groups current members.
DOES THIS MEAN RESIDENTS CAN'T CONTACT PS&B OR FRESHWATER ANYMORE?
Absolutely not. Everyone has the right to do that over things that concern them and there will be times when we all decide to write to them, or call them individually, as well as issuing a group request for maximum effect.
HOW WILL YOU MANAGE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST?
This is an important question. We acknowledge that renters and leaseholders can have different interests, as can absentee and resident leaseholders. A building like Arlington is home to people with many other different interests; those on the 1st and 2nd floor are less concerned about the lifts than on higher floors; those who are worried about their financial security have a greater interest in reducing bills; those with a disability are more concerned about access; cyclists will perhaps want to prioritise secure cycle bays etc.
We see the role of a Residents Association to be where everyone comes together to discover and act on their common interests (everyone wants a clean, safe, friendly and functioning building) and to provide a forum to work out issues where interests diverge, by sharing views, ideas and ultimately voting to decide what the majority want.
IS THIS A NEW ASSOCIATION OR THE OLD ONE REVIVED?
This will be a new association that the old one will hand over to.
We have been consulting the officers of the last, dormant RA called Arlington House Resident and Leaseholder Association and mutually decided that the best way forward would be a new association, which we are calling A Better Arlington, that can start afresh with what we hope is an improved working model. The old Association will ultimately close with any relevant assets passed to the new one.
The new association takes on the same legal aims and objectives of the old one:
"to promote and safeguard the interests of its Members and where compatible the interests of Associate Members, to preserve and improve the quality of the environment and the amenities of, in and in the vicinity of Arlington House, All Saints Avenue, Margate, Kent”
WHAT IS RIGHT TO MANAGE, AND IS THAT A GOAL?
This is a potential longer term goal of the Association. It would mean that we create an entity that takes over the running of the building, and so we would directly manage PS&B or indeed whoever we chose to take over from them.
There are various barriers to overcome, such as needing 60% of flats signed up and having to challenge Freshwater legally. And we’d need to be better practiced at working as a group, managing conflicts of interest and getting to consensus despite different needs and priorities. It’s also a lot of work, although we would potentially make savings and so could look at resourcing that when the time comes.
It’s an idea that we’d like to keep exploring. The steps along the way, working better together and working better with the managing agent, will be useful even if we all decide that we don’t want to go that far, or if we find that the barriers are too high.
Have a question that wasn’t on the list? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help.
*All statements and figures correct as of 8th June 2021 and subject to change. This website is for information only and should not be considered legally binding.