WC-FLAG summary of conflicting and/or unjustifiable comments in WC Ltd updates

Here is a summary from WC-FLAG of the inaccurate, misleading and potentially dishonest information that our Board and Matthew Arnold of MetroPM have fed to leaseholders of Warwick Crest so far in their updates, in order to justify the extensive range of costly projects they have tried and are still trying to push through.

Please remember that Matthew Arnold of MetroPM adds on a percentage fee for his own company to all large value projects. He is effectively incentivised to spend as much of OUR money as possible!

This explains why WC-FLAG does not trust the updates we are receiving.

1) With regards to the Building Safety Fund:

10 Feb 2021: letter to leaseholders from Matthew Arnold stating “applications to the original government Building Safety Fund for recovering the costs of remediation of unsafe non-ACM cladding closed at the end of last year, an application for which could unfortunately not be made because of the delays brought about by objections from some residents to making these fire safety investigations in good time”.

WC-FLAG have fact checked this with LEASE – the government advisory body – who have confirmed this is not true and that an EWS1 form was a) not required to register for the Government Fund and b) nothing at all to do with the Government Building Safety Fund. Also, registration did not close at “the end of last year” but on 31 July 2020.

3 March 2021: Warwick Crest Limited board’s letter to leaseholders stated “We are simultaneously applying to the government fund”. We are unsure which Government Fund you were referring to in that letter bearing in mind the Building Safety Fund closed for registration on 31 July 2020.

30 March 2021: letter to leaseholders from Matthew Arnold he said “As you may appreciate, it is important that we can demonstrate to the administrators of the Building Safety Fund that we are doing all we can to mitigate the costs of the required works”. We are not sure of the relevance of this statement when Matthew Arnold / Warwick Crest appears to have failed to register for the Building Safety Fund in the first place.

30 March 2021: letter to leaseholders from Matthew Arnold he also said “We are submitting an application to the Government (Building Safety Fund) for funding for these works…. ensuring the Building Safety Fund will contribute to as much of the required remediation works as reasonably possible”. How was this possible when registration to the Building Safety Fund closed on 31 July 2020?

26 April 2021: letter to leaseholders from Matthew Arnold, there was no mention of any Building Safety Fund issues.

29 April 2021: update to leaseholders sent from MetroPM, it stated “Although we have missed the deadline for the Building Safety Fund, we are making sure we are in a suitable position should the government announce another fund”.

11 June 2021: in Update 4 issued by the Board stated “There has been no further government statement on the release of any further funds for remediation…these works will be funded by the service charge”.

23 June 2021: at the leaseholder zoom call on, Matthew Arnold and Jack Lee both also continued to blame delays in obtaining an EWS1 form as the reason for not applying to the Building Safety Fund in time, despite this being untrue.

2) Board / Matthew Arnold justifications for the replacement of ALL windows after only 10-11 years when they have an expected lifespan of 25+ years:

29 April 2021: update to leaseholders sent from MetroPM, it stated “according to the EWS1 report the windows would have been non-compliant with the building regulations at the time of the fitting of the windows”. This comment in the EWS1 report was referring to the window spandrel panels and NOT the windows.

29 April 2021: update to leaseholders sent from MetroPM, it stated “we cannot confirm that these windows are suitable for installation on a high-rise building”. They have been in for over 10 years, has anyone confirmed they are NOT suitable for installation on a high rise building?

29 April 2021: update to leaseholders sent from MetroPM, it stated “There was an incident where one of the windows fell out of the frame due to the poor quality of the fitting”. This happened a long time ago, shortly after installation, and repairs made to all windows to prevent that from happening again.

7 May 2021: email from Colin Inglis stated “we are potentially hampered by being unable to certify the fire resistance of the windows themselves”. We believe that windows and window frames are exempt from any EWS1 reporting and so this statement is not relevant to these works.

3) Board / Matthew Arnold justifications for the replacement of Rear Spine windows:

10 Feb 2021: letter to leaseholders from Matthew Arnold in which he stated the rear spine windows had to be replaced “in accordance with the recommendation of this (the EWS1) report”. Nowhere in the EWS1 report does it state this.

30 March 2021: letter to leaseholders from Matthew Arnold he said “The fire engineer will also comment on the possibility of replacing the rear spine smoke vent windows” – according to Matthew Arnold’s letter on 10 Feb the Fire Engineer had already commented in the EWS1 survey, even though this was in fact not true.

26 April 2021: letter to leaseholders from Matthew Arnold he stated “Alongside the fire and other safety works highlighted by the EWS1 and subsequent intrusive surveys, we are also working on the annual planned maintenance programme. You will recall that some of this work is provided for in the current budget and approved at the AGM, for example the rear spine windows”. WC-FLAG finds no record of these works being formally approved in the AGM minutes.

29 April 2021: update to leaseholders sent from Matthew Arnold / MetroPM, it stated “We have received a report from the CHPK Property and Construction consultants that state “They are in poor condition, and their replacement is required”. You also state “the directors have looked at the windows and it’s quite obvious their replacement is required”. A member of WC-FLAG has also inspected each window, on each floor and can confirm that whilst some of the glazing panels may need replacement due to primarily cosmetic factors, most of the frames are sound with only some small areas of rot (floors 3,9,10,11 and 14) which could be repaired from the inside if/when any glazing panels are replaced (as these are designed to be removed easily). Of the 120 individual frames of glass, only 6 appear to be cracked. Please can the board confirm they have looked into the options for repair and how the costs compare with replacing all windows.

23 June 2021: zoom call with leaseholders, Matthew Arnold stated the rear spine windows need replacing because it says we must do this in our annual Fire, Health & Safety survey report. It actually says in this report that they should be replaced OR REPAIRED as required. No proposals or costs have been forwarded to leaseholders for repairing, rather than replacing, these windows.

4) Board / Matthew Arnold justifications for the replacement of the second lift at the same time as all other works:

30 March 2021: letter to leaseholders from Matthew Arnold he said “The evens lift requires upgrading. This work is part of necessary regular maintenance and improvement, which is already budgeted for.” We notice there is no mention of these works being required immediately as essential and that whilst they were planned to be replaced when there was sufficient built up in the reserves, WC-FLAG believes that any essential works required around the EWS1 should take priority.

26 April 2021: letter to leaseholders from Matthew Arnold he stated “These are essential works” and that “the Board was advised to bring into affect an urgent schedule of repairs to avoid failures of the lift”. We refer you to the original information relating to these works, and in the newsletter sent by Matthew Arnold in 2019 where he states “As the work is being phased, this will ensure that costs are incurred over a period of time which will ease the burden on the service charge account and the level of service charge generally”. This same statement was repeated in his newsletter of 2020. WC-FLAG understands from two of the three Directors on the board at the time, that it was agreed to phase the works to be done ONLY when there was sufficient service charge to do the works and that the Board was NOT advised to “bring into affect an URGENT schedule of repairs”.

11 June 2021: in Update 4 issued by the Board you stated “The lift refurbishment will be paid for from the maintenance account – this is not subject to a request for new funds”. At the zoom meeting on 23 June you stated the reserve fund had only £47,000 built up in it. Bearing in mind the cost of replacing one lift is likely to be in the region of £100,000 and you have already stated we face bills of between £500,000 to £1,000,000 for other remedial works, WC-FLAG struggles to understand how you believe leaseholders will not have to contribute extra in order for these works to be carried out at the same time as all other works.