It’s not all bad news at the Grand as litigator supreme Michael Stainer walked away with the award for the “Brass Neck Performance” of 2018. For a man who has a neck with more brass than you would find at the average brass band bash, even he has surpassed himself.
At a meeting of some 40 Grand residents held at the Best Clifton, due to the banning of certain residents from the Grand’s commercial areas, they heard a report from the newly Tribunal-appointed manager, Alison Mooney. In a normal apartment block, such meetings are fairly routine – but this is the Grand.
Firstly, calmly sitting at the rear, was Michael Stainer, notebook and pen at the ready. Of course, he has that right as he is a leaseholder — 19 times over with his wife. He has, however, to leave his hat as a director of the freeholder, Hallam Estates, firmly at the door.
So what’s with the brass neck? And why were residents so angry?
As Alison Mooney made clear, the outstanding service charge debt of over £270,000 by the Stainers (pictured) on their 19 flats remains unpaid, and the freeholder, Hallam Estates, refuses to exercise its obligation to enforce collection of this money. Mr Stainer tried to argue that this debt was in dispute but both Mrs Mooney and other residents pointed out, the debt was determined back in January. It was not appealed. It was re-affirmed by the Tribunal in June and in September, and still Mr Stainer remains immoveable.
Mrs Mooney also reminded residents that the use of the flats as holiday lets was ‘illegal’, that is, in clear and flagrant breach of the leases. This reminder led to Hallam Estates solicitor, Andrew Duncan, to state that Mrs Mooney had “incited a breach of the peace.” How come this amazing accusation? The day after the residents’ meeting, a verbal and rather heated altercation took place between residents and ‘guests’ of the holiday lets. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this event, needless to say the faithful Mr Robert Richardson promptly reported this to Kent Police and Mr Duncan received instructions from Mr Stainer, hence the accusation.
As to the consequences of this non-payment, this was made painfully clear by Mrs Mooney. Due to years of neglect, the Kent Fire Service has determined that there are vital safety improvements to be carried out. If not, the building could be shut down and both she and the freeholder subject to criminal proceedings. To undertake this work, money collected to date from residents – excluding of course the Stainers – and ringfenced for the £1 million of major work, will now be ‘raided’, and residents were extremely unhappy.
Needless to say, as the ongoing consequences of the Stainers’ refusal to pay up became clearer, several residents challenged Mr Stainer to explain his position or simply to make an interim payment. They were met with either silence or mumbled excuses that the debt was still in dispute.
Despite cries of ‘shameful’ and worse, he continued to refuse to engage with his neighbours.
It is worth reminding readers, as successive Tribunal have confirmed, that the Stainers, and their commercial enterprises have ‘leeched’ off residents for nearly 40 years. One commercial client, the Ershamstar School of Clairvoyance, pays £40,000 per annum for the hire of the Stainers’ residential flats, in flagrant breach of the leases. Not a penny of this reaches the service charge account. This information, and the amount, was confirmed in writing by Hallam Estates Ltd and by the Stainers’ solicitor, Andrew Duncan of Allsquarelaw.
As a footnote, we have been asked how and why a law firm in Bourne End ends up working for the Stainers. The answer is the parent company, QDime Group of Companies, bought Fell Reynolds some time in 2017, and Fell Reynolds were the managers of the Grand for many years, until removed by the Tribunal in 2014. Well, that’s one way of acquiring a regular client who loves litigating. Or maybe they had hopes of recapturing the management of the Grand.
The Shepwayvox Team – Dissent is NOT a Crime