Estate’s fury at price hike

NILALM110606A1 - Laura Archer is angry about an increased maintenance charge she has to pay
NILALM110606A1 - Laura Archer is angry about an increased maintenance charge she has to pay

FURIOUS homeowners in a Cotmanhay estate are refusing to pay a maintenance charge after it has been hiked by 450 per cent.

Three Valleys Housing has charged home owners in the Hopewell Farm Estate £30 a year for ‘grounds maintenance’ ever since a proportion of the houses were sold off in 2006.

But now it has hiked the charge to £135.36, including a new fee of £12.96 for ‘graffiti removal and fly-tipping’, which residents say is unfair.

Homeowner Laura Archer has lived on the estate since 2006. She said: “To be honest I don’t know what the charges are for. There’s dog poo everywhere, it’s disgusting.

“All they do is cut the grass. If we lived in landscaped grounds you could understand but there’s nothing that isn’t already covered by what I pay for in council tax.”

One resident, who did not want to be named, said he is refusing to pay. He said: “I am really angry about it.”

He added: “Everyone I’ve spoken to feels that Three Valleys seem to think they’ve got us over a barrel.”

A spokesman from the housing provider confirmed letters had been sent out to homeowners, telling them of their ‘legal obligation’ to pay the charge.

“That obligation was placed in order to ensure that costs of services which benefit the entire community are met equally by all residents,” he said.

“The existing charge of £30 was set in 2006/07 and has remained in place for a number of years. A wider and comprehensive review of charges made to residents has identified that this charge does not meet the cost of providing the service and has not done so for a number of years.

“As a result an increase has had to be announced in order to cover the true cost of the services.”

He said the new charges will not be billed until next March.