I remember my first visit to the Maystar Estate. It was 1996. Three friends were living in Shuters Square. It was the first of many happy visits, especially once I moved in a few roads down, and where I still live today.
Twenty years on, I am back on the Maystar Estate, having conversations with as many residents as possible. I have recently returned from four years living in America and I don’t like what I see: dirty streets, anti-social behaviour, neighbours telling me about housing problems that are just not being fixed.
I want to know what’s really going on and how I might be able to help. So along with colleagues from the local Conservative association, I begin knocking on everyone’s door in the Maystar Estate (Cheeseman’s Terrace, Passfields, Sun and parts of Star Road and the Squares: Shuters, Vine and Orchard) plus Alice Gilliatt Court.
But I become saddened by much of what I hear. Due to anti-social behaviour – often involving drugs and groups of nonresidents congregating – residents’ ability to fully enjoy their homes has been diminished. In some blocks, this has become so bad that resident reported needing to be accompanied to their frontdoors.
I hear about parking problems and about the lack of public walkways. Residents show me entrances to block which aren’t secure or significant damage in their homes which has not been repaired. Many tell me of the mice and cockroaches that have infested their homes and about countless calls to the council to report it.
Several residents raise concerns about the Labour council’s plans for a stock transfer of the Estate (along with all others in H&F) to a Housing Association. If the proposal goes ahead, it could lead to higher rents and service charges, less security of tenure and less power for tenants. For example, in 2013 the rent per week for a two bed council flat was £95.37 compared to £117.61 for one rented from one of the Borough’s major housing associations.
With each issue raised with us, my colleagues and I work with Councillor Harry Phibbs, Opposition Spokesman for Housing, to seek a solution. Often this means holding the council to account to ensure residents don’t get poor service, for example, receiving letters or even visits but no solution.
CCTV is one such area where residents have requested a solution, with many residents telling us that it had been promised to them. North End police also name it as the top priority for the entire North End Ward. But the council tell us that installing CCTV for the Maystar Estate isn’t part of any current plans.
If you support CCTV and would like the council to make it part of their plans, please sign our petition. We have over 100 signatures. You can email me at email@example.com and I can sent you freepost letter to sign or arrange to pop round to your front door with the petition.
Please do also email at the same address if you have other concerns. I am excited about making our local area as great to live in as possible and look forward to meeting you on Maystar soon.