The Independent London Newspaper



LETTERS: CityWest Homes’s motto is ‘investing in people’ – well in Soho they are not

Published: 6 January, 2017

• CHIEF executive Jonathan Cowie’s apologia for the closure of CityWest Home’s Soho Estate Office (New service for residents, Letters, December 16) is, at best, disingenuous.

His claim that only three people a week visited the office is a statistic and, as we know, there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics”. Empirically there was always someone waiting to be attended to when I passed the office.

This, however, is not the point. Mr Cowie tries to portray the estate office as merely a drop-in centre. This was not the case. It was an administrative hub full of busy CWH employees getting on with their various daily tasks. 

The fact that residents could drop in to report issues or to get information was a small, though essential, part of the office’s value to the community. They were on hand to help, explain, and investigate in person. 

In the three weeks since the office has been closed I have twice been summoned to one of CWH’s “enhanced” surgeries (once to receive a cheque, once to return keys). Both these surgeries were held between 9.30am and 11.30am. I’m sure these times are far more “efficient” for CWH staff, but not for myself and other residents who work for their living.

With the current redev­el­opment/ gentrification of Soho, never has a local estate office been more necessary. In my building, Kemp House, alone over recent months, the devel­opers have flooded the foyer three times, flooded the basement sheds and in so doing have destroyed residents’ property. 

The back door has been engulfed in fire and the tower has been shaken, rocked, and enveloped in thick dust by the demolition team.

The abandoned look of the site and lack of secur­ity has attracted drug users. This has led to needles, vomit, and human excreta constantly fouling both front and back doors and creating a sense of fear as residents return home, especially at night.

Since the office closed, Kemp House has operated with only one lift and on some days no lifts at all. This in a 16-storey build­ing home to, among others, the elderly, disabled and young families with prams. 

The Kemp House heating/hot water system has broken down over a dozen times; four times over one recent weekend alone. We have been forced to report these outages to some remote, anonymous, call centre, by phone, text and email. This has resulted in it taking three weeks for anyone from CWH to visit the building in person and for some positive action to be taken. Is this the “quicker, more efficient service” promised?

Please, Mr Cowie, don’t claim that the office has been closed “to provide a more proactive service to meet customers where it suits them”. 

It has been closed to save money and to sell off, or lease out, an expensive piece of central London real estate.

CityWest Home’s motto is “Investing in People”. 

Not in Soho it isn’t.

Kemp House resident


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