Letter to Editor: Meetings to discuss repairs to council houses

Dear Sir,

On Thursday night, I attended Harlow Council’s Cabinet meeting to ask two questions. They were:

Why is this council so reluctant to call a Tenants’ meeting to discuss the increase, over many years, of the number of repairs made the responsibility of the council tenant?

The reply was not exceptional and in the 30 odd years of trying to improve the lot of council tenants in this town I came away with a response that I have heard so many times: Apparently the council do consult tenants’ on housing repairs. And the tenants’ are happy with having to do the repair they were consulted on. On that basis the council did not need to call a meeting with tenants’ to discuss the issue.

Are you as a council tenant happy with the current housing repairs system adopted by the council? Would you like a meeting to discuss this matter with the council?

The second question was: Has the council considered putting residents, leaseholders and tenants on the HTS board? If not, why not?

The Council had apparently considered this option but considered it was not relevant to their current management arrangement. The argument would be: if they did include residents, tenants and leaseholders on the HTS board would my first question need to be asked? I suspect not.

Yours

Gary Roberts

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4 Responses to "Letter to Editor: Meetings to discuss repairs to council houses"

  1. tenpin   March 4, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    Well Gary, this is just another example of the lack of communication between Harlow Council and residents and the ‘we know best attitude’ adopted by Councillors. Michael Harrowven (of HTS) recently gave an interview to yourharlow, following which I put a few questions to him via this website, but no response was forthcoming. I wonder if any Councillor will respond to the following:
    1 How do HTS make a profit? Is this just really an under spend, because work (such as that which is now the responsibility of the tenants) has not been done?
    2 HTS have 340 key performance indicators. Who set these and where is performance reported?
    3 There appears to have been no external painting and repairs to council houses for many years. Is this situation going to continue?
    4 HTS have a plan …..; who sets this?
    5 There is no inspection system or maintenance programme for trees around the town. Is it not about time that there was?

  2. durcant   March 5, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    Good afternoon.
    I hope you don’t mind this reply to Tenpin
    Why don’t you use Gary positive attitude by asking your question directly to either the cabinet or full council instead of sitting in front of your computer.
    If you ask your question you are offered a second chance with a second question on the same topic.
    It has to be a question not a statement.
    Both question and answer are then on public record and recorded by Your Harlow.
    Very few people use this unique opportunity.
    Check the council web site about the process and see how you get on.
    Many thanks

  3. tenpin   March 5, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Well Durcant, I can tell you why very few people use this unique opportunity:

    1 As a Harlow Council officer for decades I have sat in countless Council meetings so I am only to well aware of what is involved in getting questions asked. It is often almost impossible to hear or see who is talking in the filming of Council meetings. Try looking at how it is done at Epping Forest DC where they have equipment covering the whole of the chamber and council staff running the service. No disrespects to Michael at yourharlow but the council should not rely on his services to provide and show filming on his website.
    2 In the days of the Area Committees, hundreds of members of the public would turn up to meetings across the town. They had the chance to quiz Councillors, not just once and then a follow up question. Since the closure of these meetings the Council have basically shut down any meaningful contact with residents. Tenants and leaseholders are not being involved in any changes in policy or procedures (Gary’s point of issue) and what has happened with the Local Plan is frankly appalling.
    3 I have already raised 5 questions in in my original post, therefore it would take me 3 meetings to get answers to these, bearing in mind I could only ask two at a time.Seemed to me that putting them on yourharlow was going to be a lot quicker!
    4 The Council’s website is very badly set up and hard to navigate. Trying to find out about meetings is difficult enough, there are whole areas of council services which seem to be in a black hole.
    So many thanks Durcant for your advice, but now perhaps you would get one of Harlow’s Councillors to answer my questions?

  4. tenpin   March 10, 2019 at 10:56 am

    Well Durcant a few days have elapsed, but no Councillor has responded to my questions. They should be easy to answer but I suspect the answers would be an embarrassment to the Labour Group, such as why houses will continue not to be maintained externally and what and how HTS make a profit? HAP intend to make a Freedom of Information Request and will let readers know the outcome.

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