In 1994 the Tenants on the Leathermarket Neighbourhood Forum (a group set up to relate to the neighbourhood council housing office) thought that the service they received from the council -particularly repairs and cleaning – could be done much better.
The Neighbourhood forum thought that things needed to be done more locally where local residents could make their own decisions. The neighbouring Tabard Estate had started looking about becoming locally managed in 1991 and had split from the rest of the Leathermarket Area.
So in 1994, a steering group of 10 people from the Neighbourhood Forum started the process for looking at residents taking over the running of the Leathermarket homes by setting up a TMO (a Tenant-Managed Organisation, under the Goverment's 'Right to Manage' legislation). An indicative ballot of Leathermarket area residents was held - the vast majority of residents were in favour of setting up a TMO.
This was followed by an 18-month process of agreeing a management agreement – the legal agreement with Southwark Council that would allow residents to independently-manage their services. Early 1996 was the formal ballot of tenants on the formation of the Leathermarket Joint Management Board. The vast majority of Leathermarket residents voted and there was a huge majority of residents in favour of becoming a TMO.
On 1 April 1996 Leathermarket JMB was born. The first big change is to employ JMB's own cleaners. JMB also started to employ 'handy-people' to do minor repairs. Over the years the JMB's repair team has grown in skill and ability – growing from being able to carry out 20% of jobs on the estates to now being able to carry out almost all the types of repairs needed.
In 2001 the first JMB continuation ballot was held (every five years, residents have to vote to say whether they want the JMB to continue to manage the estates, rather than going back to having Southwark Council directly manage the estates).
Also in the early 2000s a separate organisation, Leathermarket RSO (Resident Services Organisation) was set to provide local employment as part of a Government pilot.
The RSO took over the gardening services for the JMB and provided the weekend cleaning service. In September 2006 the JMB's second continuation ballot was held with more than four out of five residents voting for the JMB to keep providing housing services for the Leathermarket area.