Letter to Editor: Should Harlow Tories be boasting about reducing backlog of housing repairs?

Politics / Mon 9th Oct 2023 at 09:59am

Dear Editor

I READ with frustration the press release from the Conservative administration of Harlow council where they celebrated reducing the backlog of housing repairs, when I know that the current figure of outstanding repairs is 40% higher than it was in March 2020 when I was housing portfolio holder.

According to the figures presented to the September Scrutiny Committee, in July 2023 there were 5001 outstanding repairs.

Now, there might be many reasons for this figure e.g.; Covid, Weather, Rampant Inflation. And whilst the Conservatives can claim they have got the number down from a high of 5554 outstanding repairs in March 23, it does seem somewhat premature for them to boast about it, given that they still haven’t got the figures down to the levels they were in 2020 under a Labour Administration

Yours sincerely

Cllr Mark Wilkinson

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23 Comments for Letter to Editor: Should Harlow Tories be boasting about reducing backlog of housing repairs?:

kelly fry
2023-10-09 11:04:43

Repairs are rushed, 9 months wait to get things done. Also no pride is shown in the repairs carried out. We may be lowly council tenants in their eyes but does that mean we have to put up with low standard repairs???

Dan Long
2023-10-09 14:02:35

Housing repairs were no better when The Labour party was the administration party of Harlow. So who are you or any of your collegues or members to rant about housing repairs, talk about being two faced a having sort term memories. The same goes for the goes for the issue with F,S,G School. You, the Labour party are quick to blame the Now Tory administration party of Harlow for it all when it was Labour who was the administration of Harlow when that school was agreed to be built. And NO I will not be voting for any of the two main parties in next year's local and genural elections.

James Leppard
2023-10-09 14:04:25

Cllr Wilkinson seems to overlook the fact that the figures for 2020 are irrelevant. His Labour administration were in office until May 2021. It is bit like submitting a full report on a football match, but only telling us the halftime score! Show us the true numbers, Cllr Wilkinson!

2023-10-09 15:58:09

Regardless of who wants to point fingers at whatever colour tie you wear, need it be reminded that despite all the wonderful picture of all the work being done and maintenance being done.... this is actually the legal responsibility of the landlord regardless of private or LGA. This is somewhat like me bragging that I have paid the credit card bill each month. The question remains though have the numbers genuinely come down or have they been moved to another list or category, or fallen off the list because of not being chased by tennant. What has been the sudden change which has not happened sooner or been identified which has resulted in such efficiency increase? Does this mean prior to this money was being knowingly wasted?

Bruce Downey
2023-10-09 16:05:57

The last man standing (image Potter St ).. all over 2024?.. probably.. 👋

2023-10-09 21:08:42

Can I ask, what is the scrutiny comittee, when was it founded and is there any cost to having one?

2023-10-09 21:28:47

My cast iron gutter (full of debris) is hanging off. My grand children and my disabled wife, can't go out into the garden. Despite inspection deeming it an emergency (ie, seriously dangerous) Still no action from Harlow council!!!! But miss a week with your rent and several intimidating and threatening letters ensure

2023-10-09 21:44:52

Oops ensue (typo)

David morton
2023-10-10 05:17:31

The wind broke one of my fence panels, the council said it can take up to 9 months, concrete posts in situ which means broken panel out slide new panel in, 60 second job!!!! You honestly couldn't make it up!

Cost cutter
2023-10-10 05:33:37

The less repairs done the more money saved therefore bigger bonuses for bosses, as it’s seen as profit

Cost cutting
2023-10-10 05:35:15

in the past that was the standard,now someone else has to pick up the pieces

Gary Scott
2023-10-10 07:20:45

There is a pattern here, oh elections are coming for the plebs let's do things quickly, it's always the same,wake up people, vote anyone but the same dross

J. M. Gamble
2023-10-10 09:18:14

We have a demoralised workforce with all the ill thought-out changes. Staple Tye depot will close in December meaning all the paper pickers will be required to relocate to Temple fields. This means no toilets or canteen in the Staple Tye area, so staff will have to be transported several times a day for toiletry requirements. Lots of down time so work will suffer. Thus also applies to other staff having to drive farther for basic needs. This Council couldn't run their nose if they had a cold.

Kim Oconnor
2023-10-10 09:43:23

I say instead of words, show us the proff that repairs are being done. Going by myself, I was down for a new toilet system, but just put in new ballcock. David Carter wrote me a letter, but it was only filled with dates I phoned, no follow-up letter to sort it out... rushed work, done on cheap.

Shirley Cranswick
2023-10-10 10:36:27

Mark Wilkinson seems to conveniently forget that the current party running the council inherited quite some years of labour mismanagement. I do agree that some things could be quicker but at the same time you also inherit the same workforce and while some are good and helpful in what they do, others do as little as possible to make it look good before the problem arises. I think it would be helpful if Harlow Repairs had the workforce hand a card to the tenant on completion of work done and they can inform the council via an online site about the satisfaction of work done and the workmen. This is done so much now in companies and that way they know who are the decent tradespeople and who are the hangers on. My nephew works for a company that does just this and he said that it has weeded out the dross and the ones doing as little as they need to.

James Leppard
2023-10-10 10:53:00

Aunty Boo, what Mark Wilkinson fails to mention is that the previous poor management and work practices of HTS were put in place by his administration. During Covid, unlike many other authorities, they gave the entire workforce what was effectively leave with full pay. Of course social distancing meant that many jobs had to be deferred, but also many routine repairs could have been managed respecting social distancing requirements. What about routine environmental work like grass cutting. This could have been easily managed with HTS employees working fully distanced from others. As a consequence, not only did this cost Harlow tax payers a huge amount, but the current administration inherited a huge backlog of both housing and environmental works.

Pissing in the wind
2023-10-10 11:50:04

JM Gamble their pissing in bushes now

2023-10-10 11:56:21

We need more truth and less spin

2023-10-10 12:02:50

Has anyone who ever run harlow council ever cared about staple tye area? And what about building more social housing for harlow ppl? God forbid make any of them adapted for ppl who become disabled before tje age of 65. Time ppl voted for any1 but the 2 main groups. Get rid of career politicians n have someone who genuinely gives a dam, fed up with the fakeness pushed on us by money grabbing idiots!!!

Nicholas Taylor
2023-10-10 12:56:57

J M Gamble makes one of the best points here. Back in the day the Development Corporation used to have works depots, stores and space to store vehicles overnight at Wych Elm, The Stow, Prentice Place, Staple Tye and Old Harlow. This meant that each neighbourhood had a team of staff who could start and finish work in homes close to each local depot. The Council took these on in April 1978 when they took over all the Corporation owned homes. However the Council started the centralisation of services in the early 2000's meaning that more and more staff were based in the new depot at Templefields. The building of homes at Staple Tye will mean the last of these local depots will close, with the loss of all the advantages of having local depots such staff toilets, a local place of work so early start and later finish, reduced travelling time etc.

View from Afar
2023-10-10 13:35:31

I’ve seen HTS employees doing work on a privately owned property opposite where I lived

Chris Buck-Marshall
2023-10-11 16:42:24

@James Leppard I will happily fill you in on several incidents hts are aware of yet fail to address. It's simply not a matter of backlogs or blaming the other side. They have some serious issues in the ability to effectively communicate, to the council, to their employees and to the residents and be able to trace jobs and successfully sign them off with verification. I can show you email chains where hts have misunderstood or dismissed repair enquiries or even confused them with other repairs but not questioned. Some were even reported with supporting photos, grid reference and asset ID yet were still not correctly addressed. It begs question how much more detail I could have given aside from standing with a hts employee physically pointing. I have had complaints partially upheld to stage 2 citing communication issues from hts but then investigated by Gavin Jackson operations manager for repairs and maintenance who called me to discuss once a complaint has been closed as hts still had not answered the questions. I was told he would call back the following day once he had reviewed the details as the questions I asked he could not answer. This was well over a month ago, maybe 2 now, I have followed up at least 3 times with the hts complaints to no avail, simply put Gavin is wilfully ignoring me, ask him, ask Vince in complaints I'm sure he is sick of my emails too. I have asked if hts employees have a duty of care to report incidents or issues they come across or simply do their job with blinkers on. I've not had a response when questioned having given examples. I can also show you proof that on 3 occasions HTS have destroyed parts of our private property and have had claims put in where the negligence of hts and it's workers has been settled at tax payers expense (insurance). What part of this is "working together for Harlow?" Hts are a free running no accountable organisation pi**ING in the face of residents. Happy to have an amicable discussion where somebody will take accountability. If you want to chat simply get in touch with hts who will have my details to hand, they also likely have a headshot of do not engage with this person in the office

James Leppard
2023-10-11 19:56:55

Chris Buck-Marshall, please contact me on my Council email. Thanks

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