URGENT – WCHT’s AGM – Don’t let them take away your right to have a say!

We recently wrote about WCHT’s proposed adoption of the National Housing Federation’s 2015 Model for the operation of Trusts. The information contained in the post was taken from the Trust’s own website. We’ve now been made aware of a posting by the Trust on another site in response to some concerns about the proposals which we reproduce here:

We recently wrote to all Watford Community Housing members with regard to our upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM), where members will consider a proposed change to the Rules which govern how we operate. A number of residents have raised concerns through social media or by telephone about these changes. We hope that the following information will be useful in providing reassurance by addressing these concerns and clarifying the key points where there may have been confusion. I’ve heard that Watford Community Housing wants to make changes that will seriously impact residents – what does this mean? The proposed changes are largely administrative and will help to ensure that we continue to meet the same standard as other housing organisations. They will not impact negatively on residents and are designed to ensure that we engage more effectively with residents, giving you a voice. We are proposing to adopt the National Housing Federation’s 2015 Model Rules, which are used by the majority of other housing associations. These would replace our existing Rules, which were based on the National Housing Federation’s 2005 Model Rules and are now out-of-date. If you would like to read about these in more detail please click here: https://www.wcht.org.uk/download.cfm?doc=docm93jijm4n3006.pdf&ver=3339 Our Gateway Membership Team (GMT) has recently created some newsletters that were posted out to members. These newsletters are written by residents who are members of the GMT and are eager to boost the engagement we see from our residents, by including calls to action so that residents don’t miss out on having their say. However, it is important to note that any opinions put forward in these newsletters represent the GMT’s own interpretation of the changes to the Rules, and are not endorsed by Watford Community Housing’s Board. Are you proposing these changes because you want to stop residents having a voice? Not at all. We are currently working on a menu of involvement that outlines the many and varied opportunities for residents to have an increased role in holding the organisation to account and identifying ways to shape and improve our services. Moving forward we are only looking to increase opportunities for all our residents to have a voice. For us to be a community-focused social landlord, it is essential for us to place residents at the heart of the work that we do and this is not going to change. Keep an eye out for our upcoming opportunities menu outlining all the different opportunities for residents to have their say. We have included a range of small, medium and large projects in the hope that there is something suitable for everyone to participate in. Is Watford Community Housing looking to reduce the amount of social housing we provide? No, this is definitely not the case. We are not proposing to make any change to existing tenancies and we also remain committed to providing social and affordable homes for Watford and the surrounding communities. Who should I ask if I have questions or concerns about the AGM or the proposed changes? We are committed to being open and transparent about the proposed changes, and we would be happy to discuss them with you.

As we noted in our previous points on the subject, the Trust tried to push a similar motion through last year but had to withdraw it because of pressure from the GMT and residents. Some points to note:

All WCHT Trust tenants and leaseholders are automatically entitled to be a member of the Trust with full voting rights

Not all leaseholders or tenants are made aware of this at the time of signing their leases/TA’s  (based on people we’ve spoken to that have recently moved into Trust properties who tell us membership was not mentioned)

The Trust don’t make joining later on easy – you’ve got to look hard for the form on their website (we included a link straight to it in our previous article and have also included it below)

People that can’t get to the AGM on the 11th September can appoint a proxy – a yellow form was sent out with the notice of the AGM and has to be retuned to them by the 6th to be counted

If the NHF’s rules are adopted at the AGM, it will give the Trust far more autonomy which by default means less accountability to its members – basically they’ll be able to do what they want without consultation – this will affect every one of us no matter which part of the Trust’s estate we live on.

The MRA cannot stress the importance of making your voice heard enough, it is vital for the future of the community in Watford that the Trust are not able to make decisions that affect us all without having to seek our agreement first.


What Are the MRA doing?


In addition to our first posting on the subject, we’ve been doing our best to make residents aware of the issue and urging them to vote or appoint a proxy. Over the next few days we’ll be increasing the publicity and will have collection points for people to bring their forms to – dates and times of the collections will be announced shortly, so please check back. Of course, it’s better if you can attend the AGM in person but we’ll be happy to pass your forms on at the time.


What Can I Do?


Join the Trust if you’re not already a member – the more members they have, the harder it’ll be for them to push through changes without proper consultation

If you’re already a member, make sure your voice is heard – either go to the AGM on the 11th or take your proxy to one of the collection points once they are announced – we’ll ensure they get to the Trust in time for the 6th

Tell your friends and neighbours about this – as we said before, it’s not about national or local politics – it’s about how and where we live!


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