Picture shows one of the hedgerows being trimmed during an earlier visit to Timber Close.


Trophy Winner for Monday 12 May 2014 goes to the Sanctuary Housing’s ‘Estates Team’ who attend Timber Close weekly for 2 hours every Tuesday, according to Helen Harding, Sanctuary Housing Operations Manager – South West, Exeter.

Pictured is the ‘Estates Team’, that’s right all one of him, which Sanctuary charges in excess of £140.00 for attending for 2 hours every Tuesday, or in excess of £560.00 for attending 8 hours a month, or in excess of £6,720.00 for attending less than 100 hours a year.

Sanctuary’s “Grounds Maintenance Specification” is a document which sets out what tasks should be done every week, every fortnight and every month etc., and is Sanctuary’s part of the deal so to speak.

The 2013 – 2014 “Grounds Maintenance Specification” indicates 5 x weekly tasks, 1 x fortnightly task, 3 x monthly tasks, 1 x quarterly task, 2 x 6 monthly tasks and 3 x yearly tasks.

The ‘Sanctuary Housing Idiot Trophy’, S.H.I.T. for short, is awarded today only for ‘Hedges and Bushes’, a task which should be done every month. This because the gardner did the hedges and bushes last Tuesday 6 May 2014.

According to the Specification the “Performance Standard” for ‘Hedges and Bushes’ is as follows : “To be carried out in accordance with standard horticultural practice for bush/hedge type, to remove dead/diseased/excess plant matter and branches/foliage overhanging in a manner which interferes with the use of the footpath/highway/roads/paths/car parks etc. Remove all trimmings from site”, unquote.

So what did the residents get for their weekly Service Charge ?

Hedges and bushes were trimmed and the trimmings were then blown underneath the hedges and bushes with the aid of a petrol driven blower, hardly “standard hoticultural practice”. This then prevented the weekly tasks of removing all leaves from the grass, and all areas to be left clear of rubbish, litter, leaves, etc. and all trimmings to be removed from site.

Because some hedges have never been trimmed adequately enough to prevent them interfering with some Rotary Driers, the “Grounds Maintenance Specification” has remained a fraud in the way it has continually and wilfully failed to maintain and provide the Services the residents have been paying for every week since 2009.

With further regard to the Rotary Driers this has been further compounded with the introduction last year of “Bennetts Folly”, a white elephant of a construction which has meant 2 Rotary Driers are no longer fit for purpose despite the residents still having to pay for them every week.

This somewhat trimmed, blown away and two green fingered fraud is therefore awarded to Sanctuary’s ‘Estates Team’, Helen Harding, Richard Keeley, Simon Clark, the Board Directors and the CEO David Bennett for proving if you are big enough and corrupt enough you can get away with anything. (Moreso if Cornwall Council has anything to do with it).

Footnote : For those of you who think this is a trivial issue I would ask you to consider the following.

A Cornish gardening firm would charge in the region of £10.00 per hour per man saving in excess of £120.00 a week from just over 50 properties. Sanctuary owns some 95,000 properties with a proportion of those residents most likely paying excessive Service Charges for what they get. A high proportion of these residents will be in receipt of benefits with their Rents and excessive Service Charges being met by local Authorities. This amounts to Profiteering on a Grand Scale Nationally.


  1. sanctuary tenants pay £1,800 a year between 16 of us-for four tiny bits of grass and a hedge—they are never here-i saw them the other day pull up sit in the van for ten minutes and drive off–they lied as well-they cut a tree down-‘we replaced it with a nice small tree and another one’ i put those trees in and i know exactly where they came from–and they are still debating 12 years later who own the back fence-between rail track and them

    • Hello Kerry. What you, and any other tenants up and down the country, need to do is to request a copy of the current ‘Grounds Maintenance Specification’ for your estate etc. from Sanctuary Housing. This will tell you what you should be getting for the Grounds Maintenance part of the Service Charge. You can also ask for a break-down of the Service Charge if you do not already have it. Also request the amount of time weekly maintenance visits are allocated in order to work out the approximate costs of visits. The Council’s Planning Department might be able to help out with ownership of the back-fence. It needs sorting if the residents are paying towards the upkeep and maintenance of the fence. Geoff

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