Retirement housebuilder Bob Bessell, who has been an LKP trustee for three years, has taken over as the new interim chair of the charity.
The trustees and staff are delighted that Bob has accepted the position during a period of crisis for the organisation.
LKP and many leaseholders are still reeling from the resignation of long-standing chair Martin Boyd earlier this week.
Martin believes that he has been let down by MHCLG officials for not intervening after he was subjected to a barrage of foul-mouthed, vindictive and wrong abuse at a meeting in Parliament by the chair of the Leasehold Advisory Service, Wanda Goldwag.
Although the civil service did not question any of the four other people present during the meeting, it has dismissed LKP’s complaint about Ms Goldwag’s conduct while noting her “navy language”. The substantive damaging allegations made by Ms Goldwag have not been examined and while there is reference to an intention to apologise to Martin for the tone of the exchange none has been received.
This episode is the subject of a Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman complaint, which will rule shortly. The matter is being closely followed by MPs of all parties, who have worked with LKP and Martin for many years.
Until this matter is resolved, Martin has stood down from LKP.
It is hugely to the credit of Bob Bessell that he wishes to assist LKP at this juncture.
Report of the incident with Wanda Goldwag is here:
Bob is a former head of social services in Warwickshire who, most unsually, then became a successful retirement housebuilder through his company Retirement Security.
Although the 1,600 flats built by the company are leasehold, and do have exit fees, there is no ground rent.
Bob is a key member of the Association of Retirement Community Operators (ARCO), which has also declared that ground rents have no role in retirement housing (where they have always been extremely high and, today, far in excess the 0.1% in sale values that mortgage lenders would insist upon).
In April 2016 Bob addressed the All Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold and commonhold reform, where he pledged to leave the Retirement Security freehold portfolio – worth £7 million – to a trust controlled by the pensioner residents at his sites.
Bob is also the subject of an article on the LKP website where he was expelled from the Association of Retirement House Managers after sticking up for an employee who he felt had been badly treated. Although the ARHM – still heavily dependent on the property management giant FirstPort (formerly Peverel) – has improved, few who are informed about retirement leasehold would consider expulsion from the trade body as necessarily unlaudable.
Bob lives in Stratford upon Avon with his wife Margaret in a flat that is part of the Retirement Security complex in the town. It is called Margaret Court.
Born in Liverpool in 1934.
EDUCATED 1951-4. Liverpool University. B.A.1954-6.
National Service 1956-7.
Liverpool University. Diploma in Social Science. 1957-8. Birmingham University. Graduate Diploma in Social Work. 1975-6. Warwick University. Master’s Degree in Social Science.
1957. A founder member of British Association of Social Work. 1973. A founder member of Association of Retirement Housing Managers.
1984. A founder member of Association of Retirement Community Operators (ARCO)
1957-67. Probation Service. Latterly Deputy Principal Probation Officer for North-east London.
1967-69. Lecturer in Social Work at University of Keele
1970-1. Principal Lecturer in Social Work, Sheffield Polytechnic.
1971-4. Director of Social Services for Reading.
1974-83 Director of Social Services for Warwickshire County Council.
1983-present. Founder and Chief Executive of Retirement Security Ltd