Sunday 30 August 2009 11.47am
charge residents more than £4000 a year for grounds maintenance around Perronet House
even though they have agreed to do nothing here and have belatedly permitted my gardening activity in this specific location (though they offer no support - Margaret O'Brien, Southwark's Head of Housing Management just periodically sends me aggressive and misspelled letters accusing me of various crimes which a couple of infamous residents here make up for their own amusement!) Southwark's justification for the fraudulent charge are that they classify Perronet House
as part of The Gaywood Estate and claim the charge is for maintenance there. This is daft. The Gaywood Estate is several streets away, shares no other costs with us nor a TRA. (Bizarrely they also classify Perronet House
as part of Bermondsey, though few residents of Southwark would see SE1 6JS as there either!)
We are all the more frustrated because their decision to charge us was a u-turn on their agreement in 2007. After guerrilla gardening around Perronet House
since 2004 I sought permission in summer 2007. After a bit of argy bargy they refunded us all for that period (nearly £150) and agreed not to charge again (detailed in the final chapter of my book ON GUERRILLA GARDENING). Sadly, since October 2008 Margaret O'Brien and Cllr Kim Humphreys have led a bloody minded and successful campaign to have that decision reversed, so we now reluctantly pay. At least they let me garden though - it would be worse if they insisted they did that too!
For now the issue festers with residents as unresolved, and it worries me that this attitude is evidence of institutional mismanagement and dogged corruption. I see evidence in almost every dealing I have with the farcically incompetent Borough and Bankside Housing Office for whom the expression 'couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery' was probably invented. Our bigger issues are now Margaret O'Brien's chaotic management of the proposed (excessive) fire safety modifications to this building and her team's reckless disturbance and disposal of asbestos ceiling tiles during the process - so far she has insufficiently answered complaints about this! Compared with this nightmare paying the council to do nothing in our flowerbeds is far preferable!
(Follow more guerrilla gardening goings on at http://twitter.com/Richard_001