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TV documentary questions Islington leaseholder charges

13:43 20 August 2012

Islington Town Hall's charges will be scrutinised in tonight's Dispatches show.

Islington Town Hall's charges will be scrutinised in tonight's Dispatches show.

Archant

Tonight’s edition of Channel 4 documentary Dispatches features Islington Council overcharging leaseholders to the tune of £1million.

The story, first published by the Gazette back in April, concerns a group of leaseholders from the Tremlett Grove Estate, in Archway, who were each hit with a £28,000 bill for work on two blocks.

One of them, Mary Tierney, is an 80-year-old woman who has lived on the estate for 45 years and bought the flat in 2001 after her husband died.

Now with no income other than her pension, she has suffered ill health worrying about how to pay the enormous debt.

Her daughter Jackie teamed up with other leaseholders and took the council to the Leaseholder Valuation Tribunal (LVT), who ruled the council had spent around £1million too much on the work – then reduced each of the 14 leaseholders bills by £16,000.

Ms Domican told the programme: “Well it sent her [Mary’s] blood pressure sky high as you can imagine...how can you get a bill for that much without any warning?”

She added: “It’s put her in very bad health.”

A tearful Ms Domican was asked if she thought the council were aware of the anguish these charges caused. She said: “I don’t know if they’re aware of if they just don’t care, they just want their money.”

Later in the programme, housing minister Grant Shapps is asked what he would say to councils that have overcharged leaseholders.

He said: “Shame on you.”

The Lands Tribunal recently rejected an appeal by the Town Hall against the decision – the second appeal the council has had turned down. They are now considering whether to go for a third.

Judy Granvillle, another leaseholder, told the Gazette: “The fact that the council were told to get on their bike by the Lands Tribunal is excellent news.

“This is a huge vindication for me. There has been so many ups and downs, with the council appealing on two occasions, that I will wait before popping any corks.”

- Dispatches airs tonight at 8pm on Channel 4.

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