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As it was — https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c1/Nova_building%2C_Bournemouth_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1538363.jpg

B-Central, B-Special

A Proposal of Alternative Building Management for the Residents of Bournemouth’s B-Central apartments.

Introduction

Dear Neighbours.

How do you do. I am the guy in flat 29.

Firstly I am going to rant a bit, apologies for that in advance.

Then I am going to put a proposal to you, for you to think about.

If you are happy with a building which went from being a beautiful place in the beginning when it was built in 2008, a shining jewel at the top of the pedestrian precinct, to the sorry, run-down dishevelled thing it seems to have become now, then read no further, nothing to see here.

Fall guy

I am the guy who’s cars you’ve seen on the second floor in parking space 29, (the same number as my flat) occasionally plastered with parking tickets, or even clamped, in my own parking space when that practice was still “Legal”, and who had to subsequently pay £150 cash to finally get the last clamp off after two months of cycling to work in Wimborne.

I’d refused to sign the parking protection racket when it first came round, for good reason. I knew only too well my hen-like memory of domestic things would let me down very quick in any regime of maintaining parking permits in multiple cars, swapping back and forth between various company and hired cars, and my own as required, at random.

But the scheme was implemented anyway.

And sure enough my memory did fail me. Lots.

I knew also I was way too busy working to be able to chase after various officials in business hours to sort things out when they went wrong.

It should be obvious to most of us now that the main revenue made by the parking scheme “Officials” is from folk legitimately parking in their own spaces, but who fall foul of the permit regime.

In case you weren’t aware, if you ignore the tickets now, and the multiple red highlighted letters that arrive daily at the registered address of your car, parked in the space belonging to the very same flat that the letters are sent to, despite having no chance of legally prosecuting you in court for parking in your own parking space, they just sell the “Debt” on to debt collectors. So the letters soon change from those from the parking “Officials”, to those from debt collectors.

Nice. I wonder how long it will be until the debt collectors get some legal backing to come and break down doors to collect on “Debts” that were never actually debts?

Which reminds me, I still have to chase up another parking permit right now.

Who do I ask again?

The Fire

My flat is the one on the top balcony, on the main street side of the building, vertically underneath the top floor flat that had the fire, about a year ago. If you haven’t visited this part of the building lately, you should come and have a look, to see the views enjoyed here now.

The water, which flooded from the balcony through my flat, and into the communal hallway, leaving all my flooring submerged in about an inch deep continuous puddle throughout has long gone, leaving my flooring somewhat ruined but still “Serviceable”.

Yes, it can still be walked on.

They tore up the carpets in the communal hallway a few weeks after the fire, after it started going mouldy, after another good neighbour complained about it (Thanks Matt). I was working away all week in Bristol at the time, so wasn’t really aware of all that was going on.

The hallway carpet still has not been replaced, we just have the bare under-floor cladding remaining there, buckled of course.

I have given up smashing the pigeon eggs now laid on my balcony daily, in their nests of poo, under the shelter of the latest scaffold. Besides, I can hardly see them now anyway, my windows are that dirty.

The same dirt maybe gave me some privacy when workers were clambering around the scaffold, when I last saw them there, around 3 months ago.

Rent vs Value

Besides still hanging onto the small 12.5% piece I started with, by the skin of my teeth, bought when the flat was valued much, much higher than it is now, my rent has gone from six hundred and something, to nine hundred and something, in the time I’ve been here since moving in as first occupier of this former sparkling show flat in 2008.

That is an increase of 50% in rent, no less. And the increases show no sign of stopping.

Take a look at the building now. Besides the obvious eyesore and inconvenience of the fire repairs dragging on for a year after the fire; Garage doors, lifts, intercom, car park traffic lights, all variously out of order for long periods of time, for years before that. Lifts with pieces of plastic epoxied to cover holes opened by vandals ripping off various panels, decorative screws, and buttons, with confused controller voices now announcing wrong floors, when they do work at all.

Wasn’t it strange that both the intercom system, and the main lift, appeared to have been taken out by the fire? Both had been long awaiting reliable repairs until the occurrence of the fire, then shortly afterwards, they got fixed, as though the fire had anything to do with those technically.

Sorry but I don’t believe it did.

More likely budgets changed, and some funds were released as a result of the fire.

Who knows when the first payment of insurance was made?

Cameras

When I moved in here, I was actually impressed we appeared to have security cameras all over the building, thinking those were being monitored by someone looking after our interests.

I found out otherwise when I asked Goadsby for footage around the time my car was clamped, to see if maybe the cameras caught whoever owned the bootprint in the middle of the dent on the wing that appeared about the same time as the clamp. I guess those clamps must be pretty difficult to put on. Maybe he had to lean his foot on the wing to gain leverage, wrestling with the clamp. It was a heavy car. 1600 kilos of 10 year old rare imported 5 seat Japanese coupe with really fat tyres. Who knows. I was asked for £600 to see the footage. Apparently it costs that much to request it from the “Security company”. I had to decline.

Profit in the loop

We can see that b-central and us residents are never going to be beneficiaries of a bunch of profit seeking companies, who are appointed to take care of things. Face it, the sole aim of all profit seeking companies is to maximise profits. They all have to do that, in order to survive in this predatory dog-eat-dog world.

In the case of our building management companies, every penny pinched from us, to put on their profits, is a penny pinched from what is spent on b-central, and we can see that every penny that can be pinched, is being pinched.

Believe me, I am a Scotsman. I know all about penny-pinchers.

Further, we can see huge inefficiencies in the way things are done. No way can it be efficient to have scaffolding up, at daily cost, whilst no-one is doing any work on it.

All the while, our rents and rates go up, and our quality of residence goes down.

The building is in decline. We are in decline.

Hey-ho.

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Google Maps, Bournemouth BH2 5AT

Onwards and Upwards

This building could be something amazing again. It could be even be better than the shining pristine icon it was ten years ago, if it was managed right.

For example:

As a practicing Systems Engineer, I couldn’t help working out for myself, how the building apparently equipped with those cameras, and the door entry system should really work.

The cameras should all be live. They should all be accessible from the video panels in our door entry system. Anyone looking at their door entry system video panel should be able to skip through all of the cameras in the building, as well as the one we are currently wired to at the front entrance.

Further, there should be some kind of connectivity to our lounge TVs, a channel we can switch to, to browse the building cameras at leisure, whenever we are bored and feel the urge to be a bit nosy. Of course a well engineered non-profit community system would make sure that data was not available publicly, for external parties to profit from.

If we could do that, then we would be able to see anyone parking unauthorised in our parking spaces, then use that recorded footage as evidence to chase the perpetrators for fines via court action in the same way as organisations like Tesco currently operate.

No more parking protection racket, and no more external “Security company” monitoring cameras on our behalf, if there even is such a thing.

Also, we would have a much higher chance of spotting vandalism going on in the building as it happens, and thus would have a much better chance of doing something about it, especially if we had some community in the building, ready to come to assistance.

A Great Building Needs Great Management

Maintaining the quality of B-central, this building of 62 flats, is not a small task. There is a myriad of things requiring maintenance. A list of the most obvious includes:

  • Lifts / Elevators
  • Car park and access traffic lights
  • Security Cameras
  • Door entry systems
  • Fire alarm system
  • Building Electrics
  • Building Telecommunications
  • Building Plumbing
  • Cleaning
  • Waste / Trash disposal
  • Internal Cleaning
  • External Cleaning
  • Internal fixtures and fittings
  • External fixtures and fittings

I’ve already listed more things than currently appears to be taken care of.

But it is not a big task either. Not if you are used to working in senior positions of responsibility in the execution of multi-billion pound aerospace projects, like I am.

If it was done right, we would not be waiting months for repairs on things, critical to our safety, or otherwise.

In this modern networked world, there is no reason we should not be able to browse all of these details online. All should be done open and transparent, with the result we can all see every detail of every job and every penny spent, every bill pending, and even every wage drawn. Nothing should be done in private with a handshake and a wink.

The repair companies of all appliances and plant of the building should have spares in stock, to repair all things back to something close to their original pristine condition, rather than resorting to gluing pieces of plastic to cover difficult to obtain replacement parts. They should be audited to ensure this is the case, and appropriately funded if it involves significant expense to obtain stock.

We should have the right to refuse any job we are not happy with.

Great Management Needs a Great Community

In addition to a great building, I think we have the makings of a great community here also.

After all, it is quite a community spirited thing, to commit to buying a piece of a building which is built to house a community.

I have some faith that there is actually great potential here, to kindle some real community spirit.

Hence my effort right here.

The Proposition

Let’s take control of the building management ourselves.

There is a recognised scheme to do this, legislated for by the government.

It is called “Right to Manage”, or “RTM” for short.

More information can be found at:

If you have a look there, you will see that it supplies comprehensive information.

I suggest to form a non-profit RTM company, take on the responsibilities of running the building, and enjoy a much better quality of life; all of us.

Let’s make this building somewhere very special again.

The name I would suggest for the company is “B-Special RTM”.

Apparently we are supposed to include RTM in the company name, to clarify the company purpose, though it is not strictly required. The name is all open to suggestion of course.

If anyone has any other suggestions, shout them out. Consensus is everything.

What do I expect from it?

Personally, I happen to have some time to devote to this, as I am not currently in gainful employment.

I would obviously like to get an income from it. Nothing extravagant. Just enough to pay my monthly domestic bills with some food on top would be just fine. About £2K per month would do it for me. Note that is way below my usual going rate, but I see this as a special cause.

For that, I would take full responsibility for starting and running the company, on the behalf of our community.

I believe there are some others in the building who would also like to play an active part. All are welcome, and all is open for discussion, to be agreed by the collective.

I would suggest in addition to myself, at least a concierge is needed, to act as first point of contact for anyone looking to get assistance within the building, allowing me to get on with the technical work with less interruptions.

If you think of how much Goadsby are charging, for a multitude of folk far less qualified (Though experienced, granted), and far less available, my offer should look like a bargain. Look at the overheads they need to maintain. You can bet we are contributing a good sum towards that.

I am more than willing to stake my entire reputation as a Chartered Engineer that we could do much better ourselves, saving ourselves a considerable amount of money, whilst considerably boosting our quality of life.

Further on that note, I would ensure professional indemnity insurance similar to that which I normally maintain as a consulting Chartered Engineer for clients, continues to apply to me, to protect you, the community and the RTM company against any losses occurring due to errors I might make in my professional capacity, through my personal negligence, misjudgement, mismanagement or whatever. The sum insured is usually between two and ten million GBP, and is not expensive for me, so far, because it has never been claimed.

Does Goadsby offer any such assurance?

Hopefully that helps reassure you against any concerns you might have that one day, I might just drop everything and bolt for Cuba.

Further, all of us in the community would have the option to be appointed to share the control of the RTM company as shareholders.

With the technical development work done, I would also work long term towards the eventual goal of anyone being able to take over, with appropriate technical support conveniently on hand.

What You Will Get From It (Suggested Plan)

Firstly, I will await your response to this proposal. At the latest, I will wait until the end of this month for all replies to come in. That is until 12pm, 30th April 2019. But if you are already decided to go for it, please get back to me urgently, the sooner we can get this underway, the better.

We can proceed immediately if/when 33 or more flats fill out and submit the form at the end of this article to me, then I will consider that date as commencement of my appointment in the capacity above.

I will immediately notify all we are going ahead, and will instigate creation of the RTM company, announce our intention to Goadsby, and begin chasing up the administration needed.

There may be some funding needed at that stage, for necessary legal input. I am willing to take the hit on that, using whatever resources I have at my disposal, on the understanding that the company will repay over the longer term. Who knows what might be uncovered in the murky process of delving into the affairs of the building enough to enable taking control.

Over the following week (Week 1), I will gather the concerns of everyone I can get hold of, both in the building, and in the management companies, and begin an exercise of detailed Systems and Enterprise Analysis. This is the same process as I would apply to any new project, embarking work on any existing legacy system.

In that work, for the week or so after that (Week 2), we would obtain details of all expenditures, contracting companies, all budgets, all sums held, all building repair works, in process and planned, all building systems, all business processes, all applicable legislation, and many other dependent details.

The week after that (Week 3), I would use a system modelling language to capture all of that information in a System Model, from which comprehensive, easily interpreted graphic documentation would be automatically generated, for the community’s convenience and perusal.

(Week 4) I would go on to compare the system model with all of our concerns, to identify where we have gaps between stakeholder concerns, and what the system delivers (I suspect we will find an awful lot).

With that formal gap analysis done, (Week 5) I would go on to design a new system, reusing old system elements where possible, meeting all of our concerns.

I would then (Week 6) transform the new system to executable software, which where possible, carries out all of its functions automatically, with minimal interactions needed by us.

I would expect we would go on to test that system together for a few months, before translating it finally to a general javascript application running on a website which we could all access with a browser.

The end result would be a highly efficient system, accessible by any and all of us, built to maintain our building, displaying all of the gory details, with a little input from us. We could also use this to carry out building improvements such as the networked camera system I suggested earlier. We would also have options for incorporating on a crypto-currency network, so as to monetise operations and data.

Finally, that system would be configurable, to apply also to other buildings who might be thinking to follow in our footsteps. We could charge a small fee for assisting and equipping them for that, all paid to the company of course, resulting in a reduction of our costs. All intellectual property would belong to the community.

All of this is open for discussion, an initial proposal.

Let me know what you think, but please be quick.

Circumstances

My own circumstances are that I have been working on another unrelated non-profit technical venture, which has yet to obtain funding. Thus it has no funds for payment of wages. So right now I have zero income, and have been so for more than six months. You can check out my other stories in Medium (About 450 articles now), all pretty much on the same subject, (“VRENAR”), and the links from my Medium profile, if you are curious to know more about that seemingly crazy choice I have made.

Believe it or not, I am actually very ambitious, and believe that true wealth, not just for me, but for everyone, exists down the non-profit path.

In short, I am no longer happy working in for-profit mode, instead I am pursuing non-profit business and income (Non-profits do still pay wages).

I have some experience over the years of setting up various for-profit and non-profit companies as needed. The latest is a non-profit community interest company, “REMMI Research CIC”.

To be absolutely truthful, I am making this offer, almost “On the way out”, for a number of reasons, including above.

With no other changes, and without your expressed support via the form below, I will move onto (greener) pastures anew, and wish you farewell my good neighbours, no hard feelings, it was nice knowing you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you are in support, please print and fill the form below, and submit by hand or email. Don’t use letterboxes; give me a call, or email. If I don’t answer, leave a message. I promise I will get back to you if you are a bona-fide neighbour. Please make sure you have read the whole article before asking any questions.

I, [resident name]…………………….………………….

of Flat [flat number]…………, of the B-central building, 124 Commercial Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5AT, hereby state my wish to appoint Frederick Bott of flat 29 to execute the actions necessary for the residents to take control of the management of the building via the Right-To-Manage scheme as proposed in this Medium article https://medium.com/@eric.bott/b-central-b-special-d1a3cb7ebf98, dated 17/04/2019

Sigature……………………………………………………………

Date………………………………………………………………..

Contact Phone/email……………………………………………..

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Update #1

11/05/2019: I am no longer scheduled to leave the building, so the deadline is extended indefinitely. I’ve had to accept some full time contract work in my usual role as a Systems Engineer; we all have to earn a crust. I will always be able to do the technical work of the RTM on a part-time basis worst case; we could renegotiate that closer to the time. But the offer is now permanently open. We have a group, though with not yet enough members to form the RTM. But we are confident support will increase to the number required, as more folk get hacked off with the existing building management, and realise the benefits we could have as an RTM. So if you are not signed up yet, please do get signed up, and let’s get on with the job in hand.

https://medium.com/@eric.bott

http://vrenar.io/

https://medium.com/@eric.bott/what-can-systems-engineering-do-for-you-8491d04d1cb2

https://www.lease-advice.org/fact-sheet/right-to-manage/

Solarpunk

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