Category Archives: Maintenance

Questions about your latest Service Charges 2023/24?

Ask your questions below

This post is provided so you can ask questions about your latest service charges in St Edwards Park, Cheddleton. Please let your neighbours know about it although it is referred to in your Service Charge Notification letter.

Comments will be moderated so there may be a delay in posting your question and it appearing. The questions and answers will be added to the FAQ format below.

If your question is of a more personal nature eg there is a repair you need, please email Block@castle-estates.co.uk directly. By all means copy us in on the email if you have been waiting more than a month.


Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve received my charges by email. Why do they need to be sent by post too? Surely, it saves money to not post them?

The Law requires a certain format and delivery of Service Charges to owners. They are required by (obviously an old) Law to go out by mail.

Rather than raise any queries after the final version of the invoice is released would it not be better for Castle Estates to release a draft version for discussion and agreement then the final version would be released?

The Service Charges are budgeted for the coming year. The Directors spend a lot of time on these taking into account planned and potential reasonable maintenance requirements based on historic costs and/or obtained quotes.

The actual costs are then produced in a set of accounts. These are released during the following year and any adjustments are made (invoice / credit note) on your account.

The Lease has a number of legal requirements which the Management Company / Service Provider must provide.

Members are quite welcome to ask queries and/or clarification. It is worth bearing in mind that an individual property’s charges are related to the given ‘House’ e.g. Gough, Boucher so they are not all the same.

My charges have gone down again this year 🙂 Will they suddenly shoot up again?

A number of large maintenance works have either now been completed or should be completed this Spring. For example, all the communal areas have now been painted. The external windows and doors will be started after Easter. The rendering is due to be cleaned and repaired where needed around the same time.

These will be repeated on a 5 year cycle. You will notice some charges for ‘reserves’ which will be used to mitigate these large cyclical, site wide, maintenance costs.

When is the AGM?

The AGM is on Sunday 21st May at the Rugby Club at 4 PM

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF TIME: IT IS 4 PM

If I want to put myself forward as a Volunteer director this year – what do I need to do?

Last year it was put back in the Articles that the Directors resign each year and they and/or new Directors (7) are voted in.

So, what does it involve? You obviously need to let others know about you and how you think you can help. Learning from this year we would say:

  • It would better suit someone who was part-time employed or retired.
  • It can take, on average, 2 hours a week , sometimes more depending if you are arranging / working with contractors on site (it can take an hour and half to take a contractor round all the apartments blocks) . You may occasionally visit an owner if there is a query that is better sorted face to face.
  • More representation from owners of the apartments would be great as that will give a larger knowledge-base of Lease intricacies from the point of view of the owners most supported by the volunteer Management Company. Also, you are around to see how works are going and check up on work completed.
  • You don’t have to have ‘director’ experience to volunteer for this role. You just need to care about our Park and respect the people who live here.
  • • If you don’t know much about the Leases and Articles of Association, there are people willing to help with this.

There are a couple of bollards down on the main roads – why haven’t they been fixed?

I have reported them to the council and they have told me they are ‘not a priority’. They do still have them ‘live’, however, as they emailed me about 6 weeks ago to tell me they are still not a priority!

Directors Update Question and Answer Session

St Edwards Park Management Co Ltd

Welcome

  • Introduction to directors
  • Register for members wanting email communications
  • Outline of meeting

Activities since AGM

General

Installation of intercom systems complete.

Grounds maintenance update – New tenders asked for and to be agreed.

Gutters cleaned and will be reviewed annually (repairs still ongoing).

Fire safety inspections and remedial work for each block though Malloy still to be actioned.

Paving slab replacement underway – will continue into next year.

10 year plan initiated and being reviewed.

Internal decorating underway and will be finished before Christmas apart from St Edwards Hall & Martin House (s) which require Section 20 notices and will be started in the new year.

Website completed and launched, no charge. Notifications are posted here for communication from the Directors. There is also a Nature Blog there where Members can post pictures and sightings from around the Park. www.stedwardspark.org

Please use the Block Email address Block@castle-estates.co.uk to report work needed doing in the Park. Random posts on Facebook are not usually helpful as they are not monitored by directors but the formal emails are. The directors can be emailed through the website too if you have something that has been reported and not being dealt with.

Outstanding Works/Issues

External decorating – update – New quotes are being sort and will be agreed in the new year.

Summerhouses  and grant – update – STILL waiting for response from council.

Internet Connections – ongoing with solicitors.

Grounds maintenance contract – For retender and decision in new year.

2023-24 Budget

Galbraith and missing funds – a local solicitor has taken this on on a no win no fee basis.

Answers to pre-submitted questions

Please can you tell when the bollards that have been knocked down on the speed restriction areas will be replaced? Some have been down for years now. Thanks

A director was in touch with the Council earlier in year with a picture. They sent someone out and said it/they were not a priority! They do still have it on their list though as I have since received an update telling me it still wasn’t a priority!

Re the grass areas behind Pebworth House, Amsden House and the bottom of Willow Drive, between the 2 summerhouses.  This area always seems to be a bit neglected now.  The gardeners are not clearing the leaves from here properly, they’re leaving them spread halfway across the grass rather than blowing them under the trees to leave the grass clear like Linc used to do. There won’t be any grass left if this carries on as the leaves are really thick now.       Also the paths leading off to both summerhouses are now almost indistinguishable from the grass, as the moss has been left to completely cover the tarmac. This needs to be sorted as well please.

We have had a very long Autumn (since August!) and as we live in woodlands there are a profusion of leaves around, dropping 24/7. Partly agree, but some areas have had to take priority when the contractors are on site, for example, the main pathways and the roadway at the top of Villa / Birchtree.

Yes, the leaves may still be blowing around even as they are being cleared, however, there is now a problem as leaves have been blown under the trees for so long. In theory, this is fine, but now we have the problem of a thick mat of soggy, gooey leaves that are now allowing them to break down and feed the soil; insects can’t penetrate them either.

The natural way is actually to let Nature sort them but moving  leaves form one area to another just moves the problem. Along with other work, the Contractors are removing these prolific mats of matter and taking them off site, not just dumping under bushes. Therefore, it may look more like a woodland area than normal but gradually the build-up is being cleared from all the Park.

Window cleaning. If you walk down any street, in any town, you really cannot see if people have their windows cleaned or not.   We suggest the window cleaning contract is terminated, and then it’s up to individual owners whether they get their windows cleaned.      In actual fact, quite a number of owners, including us, do pay a different window cleaner privately!

This cost is a very small amount per property. It does cater for members who work, as well as those that have first or second floor properties! The Maintenance costs are not meant to cover every eventuality of owning a property, so members are quite within their rights to get further cleaning done to suit their preferences. We are, however, trying make sure that when contracts are renewed that we are still getting the best service and value for money.

Internal Common area cleaning. Could this possibly be done by the owners, if not a large area to clean? The cleaners that I see go in the communal entrance next door to us, for 2 apartments, are literally in there for no more than 2 minutes. An extortionate cost!

A number of owners work and other properties are rented out so this may not be practical. The cleaners come every week, and it can seem that it is a high cost for a lot of money (but cost is spread per property) but members are generally happy with the service. The cost is shared between all parties as per the terms of the lease.

Again, we are trying to make sure that when contracts are renewed that we are still getting the best service and value for money. We are doing this within the constraints of being working volunteers, but we are residents too.

Communal electricity.   Not sure if all properties pay for this, or if it’s just split between the apartments with communal areas. Could the directors please confirm?  Due to the energy price rises, the heaters could be limited to a reasonable temperature, rather than set on maximum as does happen. The foyer’s don’t need to be like a sauna. A simple tweak like this could save a lot…whether that be for all of us or just those with a communal area?

The cost is shared between all properties with or without a communal entrance as per the terms of the lease. A vast amount of time has been spent making sure all blocks are being read of the correct meter. A lot of charges in the past have been estimates, but the directors are trying to read the meters more often so that actual costs are submitted. It can be an issue as some properties are rented and there is no incentive for them to switch the heaters down/off, but it is/will be for their owners! Please feel free to pop in for time to time and turn down if you feel it is excessive.

Gardeners. Without going through all the negatives, with the tendering process happening now, please could we take on a gardener who is basically on site full time, Monday to Friday! As we can all see now unfortunately, this is what the estate actually needs to keep it looking beautiful through all the seasons!

The rough cost for the current contract is around £40,000. If we had someone here every week it would be twice that.

Large site contracts like ours are normally carried out fortnightly. Different members have different ideas about what it means to have our home beautiful. We have to remember we are woodlands and that there are lots of parts of the site that are being looked after that someone over another side may not even realise.

HOWEVER, the current contractors have brought in Sue, who comes in every Monday & Tuesday, each week, to do the ‘down on the ground’ weeding and gardening. This is a game changer that they are doing as part of their existing terms.

Can something be done regarding the excessive lighting around the park at night.  Either dim the lights or have them on timers or sensors – they are affecting people’s sleep.

Sorry this has not been looked into yet, will add it to a Block maintenance email.

Recalculation of block energy bills.  When I spoke with the management company, they said that many blocks had overpaid by quite a large amount – when is this due to be refunded to our account?

The accounts for last year are in their final stages with the auditors and should be with members soon. Please also see above about electricity meters. 

Clarification of the use of paths/communal areas.  A while back I brought up a concern with the billing systems which seems to have maintenance of the parks and a lot of the pathways only paid by the development owners, not the estate.  Please can this be clarified and if so perhaps moved onto the estate charges as everyone on the estate uses and has access to these.

Grounds maintenance is covered by law under the terms of the Lease with percentage costs from Estate, Development and Apartments. It is, therefore, covered by all members in the park.

Dog fouling.  Please can some bins or doggy bag dispensers be placed around the estate to stop people from leaving dog waste on the pavements and pathways.  It’s disgusting, disrespectful and unhygienic. 

This can be a problem from time to time, even for other dog owners. There are bins paid for by the council around the Park that are emptied daily. A good suggestion about placing bags around the estate, but that could become an issue in its self with or tops them up (volunteer or more money) and possibly with them blowing around.

Not picking up after your dog is not acceptable. If anyone sees a dog on its own fouling (or with an owner), please report them. Members are welcome to write to the council about more dog bins being installed.

Windows.  Can a clarification be made as to who is responsible for paying to replace or mend rotten window frames which has happened due to a lack of upkeep by the previous management companies?  

Yes, under the terms of the lease the resident is responsible for the quality of the actual windows and window frames. The maintenance costs only cover the outside painting of the windows. If you have a particularly bad problem with an outside cill or frame, for now, please report it to Block/Castle as we are aware that when the External Painting contract starts around April, we cannot paint damaged wood. We are going to take a view on the woodwork, without prejudice but in good faith.

Open forum for Questions – these matters were raised by members.

Parking on the paths is dangerous and not permitted. This has become an increasing problem especially as vans and lorries on the Estate are now doing it, as evidenced by me asking one lorry to just park on the road when they next moved, he said “the cars are doing it.” This would need to be reported to the council.

Members Overdue Payments: The terms of the lease allow for charging of interest and costs in sending out overdue paperwork. Please note that monthly direct debit is available. We will be charging properties for outstanding invoices.

Matters brought up for referral to Block

Cleaning and/or repainting of the white paving slabs where bays are marked out for parking.

Cleaning of the Bin Stores.

Reminder: Members Q & A Session 20.11.22

Reminder:

Afternoon all, the directors will be running a Q&A session at the rugby club on Sunday 20th Nov at 2.30pm – 4pm at the rugby club.

This will allow residents to ask any questions they have around the things being done on the estate. Alternatively you can ask questions ahead of Sunday to mc@stedwardspark.org, and we can answer these on Sunday.

We are looking to plan a date early in the new year where we can hold a full residents meeting where we can present our 10year plan for the estate and take any questions along with that.

Look forward to seeing you all Sunday.

Leek Rugby Club Bonfire & Fireworks Night

You are invited to Leek Rugby Club Bonfire and Fireworks night on Sunday 6th November 2022. This will be at their grounds Chestnut Walk, St Edwards Park, Cheddleton. Gates open at 5pm and the bonfire will be lit at 6:30 pm.

Please note: NO Sparklers.

Poster for Leek RUFC Bonfire and Fireworks night

Leek RUFC Bonfire and Fireworks

Gates open 5pm, bonfire lit at 6:30 pm.

Please note: NO Sparklers

Donations Welcome

All donations go towards Leek RUFC and its chosen charities.

There will be both a BBQ and a Bar, they look forward to seeing you.

Directors Update 24.09.2022

This is the Directors update for September. Both play areas are now up and running. Phil and Barb had volunteered and gone in to the Willow Drive play park to clear away the leaves and muck from the ground and made area safe. The replacement Duck on East Drive is taking a while re installation due to keeping costs down but should be installed soon now.

The Contractor to do both internal and external painting work is to start on 3rd October. There has been a frustrating delay with this due to the agreeing of costs happening just as previous Board finished; this caused a delay then with contractor who had to take on other work until this was decided.

Overdue Debts were reviewed and are reducing. 

Suzanne Lawson stepped back as a director and the board co-opted Carl Evans to fill the position. Carl was nominated very recently in last round of votes and was next ‘in line’. We all thank Suzanne for stepping up and the voluntary time she had put in.

Woodland Management – Phil & Andrea Walker have sponsored 12 bird boxes which have been bought from a local man. We will be setting up a work party in October to put the boxes up on deciduous trees in lower & upper woods. Volunteers would be appreciated.

The three-fold work on rooves and gutters should be continued next week with the cherry picker back on site.

There are a number of paving stones around St. Edwards Hall that need replacing and should be completed in next few months.

A Surveyor has been engaged to set out work required for a 10 year plan. This plan has now been received and the Board will have a separate meeting in next couple of months to look at this. 

Barb Davis has typed up the schedule and details for the grounds according to specifications from previous Park tenders. We agreed to use the schedule to ask Company’s to tender as soon as possible, ready to start in April 2023. The grounds are looking good and a number of members preferences have been addressed too.

Work is due to start on the summer house off the top of Willow Drive. This will be used as a ’template’ for structural repairs for the remaining summer houses.

The new intercoms are now all finished and will be tidied up after a short period of use/testing ie filling gaps and sealing them where the old units were larger.

Members Meeting

Many Members seem happy with the monthly updates from directors and all directors will make an effort to provide information from their areas for the website and Facebook page. A date will be arranged for a Members meeting mid/late November.

There are also a number of other works requests that are addressed relating to individual properties that are not reported which includes many conversations, visits and research by the volunteer Board of Directors.