Urgent Letter to FirstPort 22nd March 2020 re: Major Works – Coronavirus Crisis
22nd March 2020
Major Works – Coronavirus Crisis
Dear Robert, Cihan and Matthew,
During the last few weeks, the world, and the nature of our everyday existence and routines have changed beyond imagination.
At present, it is extremely difficult to predict when some semblance of normality will return, and we can slowly start to rebuild our personal and business lives.
Many people are already experiencing financial hardship having lost their livelihoods recently, and of course the very real fear is that we may witness a huge surge in unemployment running into millions if this pandemic continues over a prolonged period of time.
In relation to the impending Major Works, we now face challenges that we could not have predicted on a range of levels.
We have all agreed that Major Works needs to happen this year, in the Spring/Summer, as it was delayed from last year, and the buildings, certainly externally, need to be attended to and renovated.
Our concern is that the financial impact of the Coronavirus will certainly impact the majority of residents and owners of Repton Park, many of whom will need to use their hard-earned savings for living expenses and will already be budgeting accordingly.
If, (and I will come back to this point) the Major Works does occur this year, how do FirstPort plan to recover the costs/charges from owners, when it is already clear that they may no longer have the cash reserves to utilise?
Have you already discussed this matter within FirstPort?
Are you considering deferring payments to 2021 to enable residents to cope, and even then, giving people an option to pay the charges over a period of time to negate the impact via monthly/quarterly payments?
If you intend to recover the charges in a large lump payment, I think that it is fair to predict that this will be enormously problematic, as although a minority of people may be able to pay in full, many, many more people will not be able to pay if the current pandemic continues for a long time.
If the Major Works are deferred until 2021, can the terms/costs be agreed with the nominated contractors now, and locked in for next year?
To my earlier point, there is also now a clear issue about accessibility to decorate the buildings externally and internally, due to people having to isolate/lockdown, and further the workers and craftsmen themselves may not be allowed to work or prefer not to expose themselves to potential contamination.
You can certainly push the non-critical and internals back at the very least, which will spread the costs over a longer period of time as an option.
FirstPort can also immediately identify and extract the critical items from the current prepared schedule of works, and there is no reason why the tendering contractors cannot still price the works, assuming the situation permits.
You can progress with the tenders and obtain prices, so even when you contract any items that are then decided not to progress this year, they can simply be omitted from the contract.
These are extraordinary times.
We have always recognised and accepted the need to progress Major Works this year, but nobody could have predicted current events.
I can tell you that the vast majority of residents/owners will strongly wish to defer the Major Works until 2021 under the prevailing circumstances.
In view of the global pandemic, we believe that FirstPort should be suspending all Major Works and reviewing the situation in 3 months at the very least, guided by Government advice.
There is no urgent need for Major Works to be carried out straight away, they cannot be viewed as “essential”.
We all need to be mindful that the next 3 to 6 months is going to be demanding on each of us in a wide range of ways.
Since the Second World War, the UK has never experienced anything as concerning or threatening to our personal and national welfare and health, and the pressure and burden of a huge financial commitment will be detrimental to our residents/owners good mental well-being and financial security.
Therefore, we are keen to have a conference call with FirstPort to discuss this matter, as the residents will be coming under enormous financial hardship and will struggle to pay for these works this year, plus the further issue of contractors’ ability to do the work, health and safety regarding potential virus contamination, and the timing and cost of the schedule of works.
Can you prepare a schedule of minimum work for our discussion with you please.
Please respond and set out your initial response, and as stated on behalf of the residents, we would like to set up an urgent conference call with you.
For and on behalf of the Repton Park Residents Association