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Home chiefs blow cash on semi-nude dancers'

PUBLISHED: 12:13 02 April 2009 | UPDATED: 11:37 12 August 2010

FURIOUS residents have reported a housing association to a government watchdog after a string of incidents tenants claim disrespected them. People living at Warner House, in Calverley Close, Beckenham, allege that English Churches Housing Group (ECHG)

FURIOUS residents have reported a housing association to a government watchdog after a string of incidents tenants claim 'disrespected' them.

People living at Warner House, in Calverley Close, Beckenham, allege that English Churches Housing Group (ECHG), spent thousands of pounds on a 'lavish' dinner with 'scantily-clad dancing girls' while backtracking on a promise to put money towards a residents' Christmas party.

They also claim that managers arrange meetings to suit themselves and not tenants, as well as ignoring their requests about security, finances and communication.

Resident Joe Hughes, 70, has put his allegations to the Tenant Service Authority (TSA), which confirmed it has begun investigations. He said: "ECHG didn't give us a penny towards our Christmas festivities despite a promise they would do so. How Christian was that?

"They went to a lavish party in Liverpool with scantily clad dancing girls but wouldn't give us so much as a Christmas cracker.

"It just shows how inwardly looking they are, all the managers seem concerned with is progressing their careers."

Mr Hughes also reported to the TSA an incident which happened last February when five vulnerable residents were sent letters asking for thousands of pounds of rent arrears to be paid by mistake.

ECHG asked for £2,000 to be paid within seven days but later admitted it was at fault, blaming the blunder on an administration glitch.

An Audit Commission report about ECHG stated in 2006 that "the standard of complaints handling and record keeping is weak and learning from informal complaints is not being captured."

Mr Hughes added: "It takes ages for anything to get done. We are all frustrated. They disregard and disrespect us. Some residents have died waiting for things. We have been waiting for two years for garden furniture.

"Our service charges have rocketed but we want them to justify every single penny they spend. We used to have a quarterly evening meeting where we could complain but now that's been moved to during the day, even though we voted against it. It seems to have moved so the manager can get home early.

"I try to bring the residents a good life by doing little projects but the inertia of ECHG means nothing ever gets done. The complaints procedure is designed to wear out the elderly. Few people see it though in the end, why fight a year for a garden gate?

"We want to see a change of attitude, we want a can-do attitude but ECHG recruits managers with no batteries."

At the time of going to press, a spokesman from ECHG was available to comment.

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