Two prominent advocates on behalf of leaseholders have been rejected for the new board positions on the Leasehold Advisory Service.
LKP trustee Sebastian O’Kelly was rejected for the second time to the board; Bob Smytherman, prominent LibDem councillor in Worthing and chairman of the Federation of Private Residents Associations was also turned down – for the third time.
Mr O’Kelly’s application fell at the first hurdle before the deeply humiliating LEASE annual conference on February 1.
Here the housing minister Gavin Barwell felt it necessary to remind the taxpayer-funded agency that it was “to be solely, and unapologetically, on their [the leaseholders’] side”.
He also promised adequate funding to cease LEASE’s dependence on commercialising initiatives for freeholders and the professionals that they employ.
Sir Peter Bottomley, MP and patron of LKP /Campaign against Retirement Leasehold Exploitation, told the conference that according to the constitution of the Leasehold Advisory Service there should be some representatives of leaseholders’ interests on the board.
For years, there have been none.
“There may be somebody on the board who is a leaseholder, but I don’t think they actually include someone who spends their time working for leaseholders,” said Sir Peter.
“I suggest that when the Secretary of State comes to approve the latest applicants for the board that they include people who work for leaseholders.
“If not, he should delay the appointments.”
LKP has formally raised concerns with the DCLG about Roger Southam’s position as chairman of LEASE, but these were rejected
In a 20-minute feedback phone conversation, a civil servant informed Mr O’Kelly that his application did not proceed as it failed to include a full covering letter.
Mr O’Kelly replied that the 500,000 words on the LKP website were sufficient in this respect.
It also failed to address the criteria for the board position – displaying some knowledge of leasehold law and service charge issues.
In fact, the first tasks required for a board candidate – issued before Mr Barwell’s change of direction with LEASE’s funding – were to help provide “strategic direction … including in respect of its commercial activities and achieving commercial outcomes”.
LKP has been strongly critical of LEASE’s commercialising agenda with freeholders and their employed professionals. Now the housing minister appears to agree, promising sufficient funding to free it from dependence on the sector.
Mr Boyd, another of LKP’s three trustees, declined to apply to the board while the chairman remains Roger Southam and believes Mr O’Kelly was “optimistic” to do so.
Mr O’Kelly said:
“The Leasehold Advisory Service was set up in a different era, and it is perhaps impossible to have a neutral quango operating in this highly controversial area.
“But while taxpayers are paying for it, it should strive to do its job properly and it should have leaseholder representatives on its board.
“It is frankly outrageous that a leasehold sector game player such Martin Paine – who causes huge stress and misery on ordinary families with his scam to impose £8,000 a year ground rents – should have honed his skills as a regular attender of the LEASE conferences.
“If it continues, the Leasehold Advisory Service needs to reset its moral compass, because it is seriously awry.”
I think us leaseholders should write to our MPs and petition for the appointment. The current system is an outrage. I can tell you things, (and I will shortly) about some of the LEASE’s recommended solicitors.
I totally agree! This is absolutely outrageous and akin to employing ‘Herod’ as an Au Pair in favour of Nelson Mandela.!!!! The contempt with which LEASE hierarchy treat leaseholders is breathtaking in its arrogance. The taxpayers funding should be withheld until this matter has been thoroughly investigated. In actual fact there should be a
‘Peoples’ Candildate on the board and I nominate Sebastian O ‘ Kelly!! My MP is Karen Buck and I will email her regarding this matter.
Nobody has done more for leasehold reform than Sebastian O’Kelly. He has achieved a great deal with extraordinary dedication and for no reward beyond satisfaction in helping the oppressed.
For every Nicholas Winton there are bureaucrats ready to block people seeking to do what is humane, decent and right. There is no doubt at all on which side LKP is on. There is no doubt that it has been effective. Nor that it is a threat to the interests of corrupt professionals and landlords who include some major Conservative donors. It is vanishingly unlikely that the DCLG’s answer is honest.
If a cover letter had been included some other pretext would have been found. The Conservatives are the party whose leader once asked if people were “one of us”? And when all that has blown up in their faces and a new leader promises that it will govern for all, not the privileged few, it seems that the old reflexes die hard.
Housing policy, and leasehold with it, continues to provide a litmus test of the seriousness of the Conservatives about their claims (which I have never believed for a second, having paid attention to their actions on tax — I recommend the https://blog http://www.taxresearch.org).
To paraphrase Mr Sinclair Upton:
I suppose we must be grateful that Martin Paine or Justin Bates were not nominated!
Clearly either Bob or Sebastian would have been a threat to the Leasehold advisory Service, as they are both honourable, knowledgeable, and principled people and would not have shied away from exposing the wrongs of the Leasehold Advisory Service.
I feel sure that but a small fraction of the Leasehold Advisory service’s failings have thus far been exposed.
I suppose given the failure of Bob Smytherman and Sebastian O’Kelly to be appointed to The Leasehold Advisory Service does not bode well for the Scourge Of Peverel’s prospects to be appointed!
I think you have all the qualifications that matter.
So, I must agree with Mr Boyd, that I am not optimistic of your chances.
I have recently received a reply ( swift) from Karen Buck my MP stating that she is sure “That there is a range of representation” on the board. Shurly not ed !!! I told her I believed she was mistaken and that I ( shared Freehold) and the 900+ Leaseholders on the ‘ NATIONAL LEADEHOLD CAMPAIGN’ are outraged at Sebastian O’ Kellys rejection and that I believed LEASE in its current guise is nothing short of a Freeholders gravy train and it has to change.. Soon!
Could Karen Buck MP perhaps share with us what exactly is this ‘range of representation’. We need a list, how they are chosen and what their achievements are. Or do we just get pen pushers siting in a cosy room, whilst the leaseholders in England are suffering.? What exactly does she mean by “she is sure” either she knows or she doesn’t. And how many leaseholders in her constituency!
Leaseholder, I have replied to Karen Buck MP and told her that I expect her to investigate the reason why a champion of leaseholders is rejected for the 2nd time by LEASE and they choose as it’s chairman a chap who has made a living from property management and is no doubt hugger mugger with Freeholders! How on earth is that not a conflict of interest? I told her it was beyond satire and taxpayers are not going to stand for it. I also informed her that this site and the NATIONAL LEASEHOLD CAMPAIGN Will be kept updated by me of her communication and progress.
Kim this is crazy. It’s massively worrying for leaseholders that our tax payers money is being used to pay for these freeholders to continue to manipulate the leasehold system to the benefit of freeholders by a service that the government says should support us?? Who should we write to to air our views. LKP has done more for leaseholders than this stupid LEASE organisation. .Why oh Why is everything such a battle.???
Its been a battle since the 2010 General Election.
The day after the election Grant Shapps the newly appointed Housing Minister quashed the reforms that were in the pipeline.
Roughly what he said was ” no more red tape, the Freeholders/Landlord can have a free run, and the Voluntary Regulating bodies codes will suffice”.
Next to nothing has happened as the Government and Regulating bodies all have vested interests.
Following several ineffective Housing Ministers we now have a more proactive one but his hands are tied , so don’t expect any action soon. From him or the ARHM and ARMA. They both seem to be very quiet on this issue.
We will have to rely on LKP, their supporters and those very impressive Facebook Campaigns led by some very forceful ladies.
My God, they have got some “bottle”.. Being a soft Southerner myself I am very impressed.
> Why is everything such a battle
See my earlier post: the simple answer is: conflict of interest.
The Conservative Party is in the pay of major freeholders. The connection went all the way to the top when David Cameron was PM. Samantha Cameron’s brother is a director of Long Harbour, a business with £700m of Chinese money whose business is monetising freeholds. He learned his business at the knee of Vincent Tchenguiz, once one of the largest freeholders in the country. Mr Tchenguiz has been in the news lately:
— a story which brings to mind the title of a famous book about investing called
But, of course, the “customers” are prison tenants who have paid rent in advance more than they are customers. In the good old days of Peverel, before it was renamed FirstPort, the customer was Mr Tchenguiz himself. As freeholder on one hand he appointed Peverel, a managing agent he controlled, on the other. It’s very yacht-friendly work if you can get it.
The Conservatives have historically been very friendly to yacht owners. After all, who else is going to give them large sums of money (never mind that the yachts and the money given to them came from, in the case of Mr Tchenguiz, leaseholders).
It makes one wonder if the solution to the problems of conflict of interest is not simply reform of party funding.
It all comes down to money.
If you own, or even to appear to own a yacht, politicians will be keen for you to “invest” so that you can make even more money. Of course, your yacht can be owned by an offshore company and kept in the Med and crewed by Filipinos. No doubt many of the expenses can also written off against taxes — if there’s any danger of your not being able to have a subsidiary siphon all your profits off to a tax haven in the British Virgin Islands.
There is one exceptional Conservative who is not a member of the yachting fraternity enablers : Peter Bottomley.
But he is only one.
I’m sorry to say that I suspect some of the others on the All Party Group on leasehold are there for appearances sake.
Katie, I think the Campaign should write as a group to Gavin Barwell MP ( email@example.com and demand an explanation as to how Roger Southam is appointed and Sebastian O’ Kelly rejected. Who decides? What is the connection between the board members? What is their day job? Etc I will be willing to post a draft letter on the campaign facebook for you to comment on and edit. It could then be sent to Barwell cc our local MP and Prime Minister.??
Hi everyone! Those impressive folks on the NATIONAL LEASEHOLD CAMPAIGN are sending a letter to Gavin Barwell MP asking for an explanation as to why Mr Southam was appointed as non exec chairman to LEASE and Sebastian O’ Kelly application fell at the first fence!! A draft letter for all to see will be posted on the campaign Facebook site sometime Saturday. If you have anything pertinent to add to the the draft please do. This is a scandal and must be addressed !!!
As Paul Joseph succinctly put: pure and simple conflict of interest. Of course it’s not fair that us leaseholders are being fleeced and pushed around on a systematic basis.
In what other area can you still find so much secrecy and obfuscation? The average freeholder/managing agent is not answearable to anyone and there is no real penalty if they make “errors” accounting or otherwise.
Id like to see some suggestions for meaningful reforms not vague promises such as “right of consultation” and other drivel.
Why are our MPs so slow to act?
Leaseholder, Why not join the NATIONAL LEASEHOLD CAMPAIGN ( Facebook). Which exceeds 1000 in number after 2-3 weeks. They have currently sent a letter to Gavin Barwell regarding thissdue. GET ON BOARD!!
Will do thank you. Post the link if you can.
Please feel free to join the national Leasehold Campaign Facebook page, we now have over 1100 members in 3 weeks and it’s growing daily as more and more people realise they are caught up in this mess !!
Sorry this is the link i think
Sorry link isn’t working.
Just look on Facebook it’s called National Leasehold Campaign
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