Residents fighting against 'fleeceholding' fees on a new Market Harborough estate want the council to take it over

A campaigner leading a residents’ revolt against fleeceholding fees on a new Market Harborough estate is urging the council to take it over.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 11:35 am
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 11:37 am
Fighting back: Aiden Perks, Lara Raffaelli, Roy Saint and Malcolm Solly.

Furious Lara Raffaelli, 53, spoke out as she spearheads the fight for “justice” on the town’s sprawling Farndon Fields development.

She’s calling on Harborough District Council to go to their aid as she blasted management agency Chamonix Estates.

Lara, of Angell Drive, told the Harborough Mail: “We’d love the council to jump in and retrospectively adopt Farndon Fields.

“It’s hard to understand why they couldn’t take us on in the first place.

“But better late than never as we’re all locked into one relentless nightmare with Chamonix Estates.”

The fuming editor said she forks out £149-a-month Council Tax as well as being billed for almost £600-a-year in estate and maintenance charges.

“We all have to shell out enough cash to Chamonix Estates as it is.

“So I’m not sure why we have to pay Council Tax on top,” said South African-born Lara.

“I’d urge the council to act now and save us from this hell.

“It just doesn’t seem right that the local authority seems to adopt some new estates and not others.”

She said at least 16 other fuming residents on Farndon Fields are now backing her snowballing campaign.

“We want justice, honesty, integrity and transparency but some days I just lose hope.

“I’ve lived here almost four years and have been inundated with bills I didn’t expect,” insisted Lara, who bought her four-bedroom home from Barratt Homes for £250,000.

“We are being hit by fleeceholding charges at their worst.

“We all understand why we have to pay to maintain open spaces.

“But nothing ever seems to get done.

“No-one’s been out to fix a broken bollard, for instance, and we never see any workmen here.

“The bills that we get make no sense at all, there’s no logic to them nor clarity.

“And while I and some of my fellow victims get fleeced other residents here aren’t charged at all!”

She said the struggle was exacting a severe toll on her health.

“It’s been a very stressful, anxious time and this whole ordeal’s had a huge impact on my life,” said Lara.

Cathy Priestley, national co-ordinator for the Home Owners Rights Network (HORNET), told the Mail: “Fleeceholding has become a massive problem.

“This situation on Farndon Fields is the tip of the iceberg.

“People are suffering all over the country and it’s got to stop.”

She added: “We feel very sorry for Lara and her neighbours.

“People do feel as if they are being let down by councils and there’s an enormous human cost.

“Many people don’t know what they are getting into and there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors.”

Harborough MP Neil O’Brien said after meeting Lara: “There’s definitely a big problem there.

“Residents don’t know why they are facing charges when no work seems to get done.

“I’ve yet to get anything sensible out of Chamonix Estates but I’ll continue to fight to get the residents’ case heard.”

But Cllr Phil King, the council’s leader, said: “We simply cannot intervene here.

“We do not have the ability to compel developers to transfer the land to us since the law was changed some years ago.”

The Conservative councillor added: “I’ve got a lot of empathy with people on Farndon Fields because it must be gutting.

“But it’s not in our power to do anything about this.”

Adrian Povey, a director of Chamonix Estates, said people were told when they moved on to Farndon Fields what they were paying for.

Mr Povey also said he was setting up meetings with angry residents to hear their concerns.

A Barratt Homes Northampton spokeswoman said: “As was made clear to all purchasers, there are maintenance and management charges covering the upkeep of the public open space and communal areas around the development.

“However, if the residents are unhappy with the level of charges or the service provided by the management company they are able to vote to change the management company at any point through their residents’ committee.”