Harlow Labour question £1.8 million bill for outside contractors to repair council houses

News / Wed 17th Jan 2024 at 09:26am

THE LEADER of Harlow Labour has questioned the amount of money spent on outside contractors in order to get council houses in Harlow repaired.

Q: Councillor Chris Vince to Councillor David Carter (Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing):

A: How much money has been spent on external contractors to ‘clear the backlog’
of outstanding council house repairs acquired over the last 2 years?

Reply from Councillor David Carter (Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder
for Housing):

A: The total spend on external contractors to ‘clear the backlog’ of outstanding
council house repairs acquired over the last 2 years was £1,825,208.05 up to the end of Nov 2023.

Cllr Vince then followed this with a second question. See below.

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24 Comments for Harlow Labour question £1.8 million bill for outside contractors to repair council houses:

gary roberts
2024-01-17 10:18:56

A "post inspection" and a telephone call to the tenant. I expect this approach has many tenants' questioning whether this happened.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-01-17 12:28:30

The issue of repairs to houses has for many months been one that members of the Harlow Alliance Party have taken up with Councillors by asking questions at council meetings. The latest was as recently as 2 November 2023 when Cllr Carter was asked about the inspection of work carried out once it had been completed. He responded by saying that 10% of work carried out was inspected by inspectors employed by HTS (note, not the Council) and that follow up telephone calls were made. In the first instance this sounds like turkeys being looked after by foxes at Christmas and secondly I am sure that most tenants could not give an opinion as to how well work such as plumbing and electrics have been done. Post inspections and follow up calls need to be carried out by staff directly employed by the council as they did many years ago. Nicholas Taylor, former Housing Manager at Harlow Council.

2024-01-17 13:42:04

Oh please really. HTS do as little as possible. The most I've seen of most of them are gathered together in groups on the estate looking like they are doing nothing, but that is to fool us. Other than that they are pulled up somewhere in a corner again on the estates either asleep in their vans on their phones or having a snack....oh & this is not dt lunch time. Tell me why is it they give you an appointment & know what they are coming to do, they turn up again after sitting in vans for a bit!! Knock dt door have a quick look then have to go again back to depot & pick up nessasary parts to do the job!!? Or say we're be back tomorrow!! By which time is lunch between 12-2pm back for an hour then time to head off back to depot to clock off & go home by 4pm. Wow I would imagine you must have queues of people lined up for a job. They only work for about 2hours the whole day that's why there's a backlog of everything they do & why outside contractors are brought in. This has been going on since lockdown. The less they had to do for a wage the better they liked it, so now that's all they know other than s big pay rise for doing basically nothing.

2024-01-17 14:11:46

JR. You no nothing about HTS . I work for HTS on the heating dept. And I can tell you all the heating engineers do 10 to 12 jobs a day , because they must keep the boiler servicing up to date, and there is 9000 boilers , so no way could they sit about all day. And the gas boiler installers can install a complete system with 10 radiators in 2 days. People like you really annoy me , if you see people sitting around why don't you ask them ,there maybe a good reason.

2024-01-17 17:21:54

I thought this was going to be a Mrs Merton question, like "how much have the tories spent on sorting out the repair backlog left by the labour council that I was head of". But No, its a question about quality. So, is £1.8miilion good value, I have no idea, perhaps someone will tell us

2024-01-17 18:20:39

Had Labour kept up with repairs to properties during their time in control of the council. there wouldn't be such a backlog that needed urgent attention.

Alderman Durcan
2024-01-17 18:55:11

Love the Tory back tracking and blaming everyone else with no responsibility or accountability. This is why so many are switched off with politics. Tories own this situation and blaming the workers is pathetic and unfair.

Cllr James Leppard
2024-01-17 19:29:50

Alderman Durcan, the backlog in house repairs was not due to a single factor, but a good percentage can be laid at the door of the previous administration: 1. HTS was never properly monitored and it's senior management was never held accountable. As independent consultants reports evidenced, the company's performance was sub-standard and the Labour administration never held HTS management to account for performance. 2. Yes, internal housing repair works could not be undertaken during lockdown, but external works and environmental works could have been conducted as they were by many other Councils. It was a decision by the Labour administration to put everybody on furlough at taxpayers expense. 3. The previous Labour administration made no effort to see what other councils were doing with regards to housing works and environmental maintenance. This Administration has made housing repairs a priority, as is clearly evidenced. It has completely changed the Senior Management and Board of HTS appointing genuine professionals and not recycled Keir personnel. The results are clear to see and will be confirmed in HTS financial statements at year end 31 March 2024.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-01-17 19:48:20

James, did your Party whilst in opposition scrutinise what was going on within HTS? Did Conservative Councillors at any time have concerns about the performance of HTS whilst in opposition? I am not sure they ever had their eye on the ball let alone take their eye off it. Did they voice opposition to place all staff on furlough? A very sorry state of affairs which every tenant will be hoping is not repeated.

2024-01-17 20:41:13

Eddie if you read my comment again you see I said MOST of them, MOST doesn't mean ALL & if you want to pick hairs then go ahead. I'm ready for what ever you like to sling back at me because I've obviously hit a note that has got the hairs on your neck standing up. You too annoy me because you obviously only want to take in the words that have jumped out at you if it's not true then you would not be so quick to come back at my comment. I have not said your particular job or any other come to that. I do not make a habit of saying things that have not got some truth behind them. But of course you are going to back your co workers, I expect I would do the same . You are only one employee of HTS so keep your part of the good work up & maybe the others can follow suit but that does not necessarily mean just you or your team. I have had many occasions where HTS has not done a job properly & now apart from a boiler check I will not have them do anything unless it really needs to be done. When Kier were working all jobs I had done were good & they worked. I bet there's hundreds of me out there moaning regarding HTS & probably saying pretty much the same. But again you need to calm down as I did not say ALL or WHO.

Karen hater
2024-01-17 23:09:38

Eddie, 2 days to to install a boiler with 10 radiators how many breaks are the installers taking for it to take so long. Is every boiler install having 10 rads fitted? Also your 10-12 jobs a day are they the councils version of a boiler service because let's be honest they are not a boiler service they are a safety inspection which will take you maximum of 15 mins correct? Take a combustion reading and working pressure can't wait for your response to that.

2024-01-18 06:20:12

I have been in my home for 17 years and now the house is fallen apart to the extent that my daughter and son are suffering because of mould wet damp holes in the roof plus I can’t heat my home there is loads of issues with this house that has been reported in 2016 and yet nothing has been done

Crazyhorse 74
2024-01-18 12:31:54

Bring back kier at least they got things done.

Fact or Fiction
2024-01-18 13:42:58

Councillor James Leppard, we have crossed this bridge before… £4-5M taken back from HTS by the council in the first 6 years of it existence. 6 councillor non-executive directors on the HTS Group as overseers, who were paid for this responsibility. With only 2 HTS employees as directors on the group board. The 2022/23 report of the council shows (page 43), with the exception of 1 KPI (Voids), HTS achieving ‘Council’ set standards across its remit, despite the council effectively having their hand in the till! HTS invested in all new plant and machinery, fleet, hardware and software systems and it has a formidable record on its social impact contribution. An extensive apprenticeship programme investing in future skills with a rolling 10 apprentices. A disability confident employer. A founding member of the national LATCo network to share learning and knowledge. The independent reports assessed and proposed new methods and standards of performance, but this does not reflect a sub-standard performance when the previous standards were being met, monies were taken away from HTS by the council and standards are subsequently changed. Covid: No employee of HTS was put on Furlough. HTS followed the government rules, restrictions, guidance and HSE guidelines in order to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of its employees and the tenants and residents of Harlow. HTS changed their methods and processes to ensure the health and wellbeing of its employees, tenants and residents. Where and when possible, office/administrative staff worked from home. Managed external works recommenced approximately 6-8 weeks after lockdown was first announced e.g. cleaning of touch points in public buildings, litter, grass cutting, emergency/urgent repairs, statutory compliance etc. In view of the above quick summary, such comments as appointing professionals and not recycled Kier personnel, seem somewhat inappropriate and shallow and not a good advert on showing any dignity or respect to people, or as some might say for every finger you point, 3 point back.

Gary Scott
2024-01-18 14:00:37

We have had work done in our tower that didn't need doing and things that do need doing left, the standard of work by hts is sub standard and most not all there workmen couldn't work in construction as there not good enough to hold a job down, when you call they are rude, they make so many excuses as to why things can't get done, and I've never been called to see if we are happy with what has been done, if you question them , then you are the problem, there is never any recourse for there failings just more reward , to many managers doing nothing, but sitting in there nice warm offices, like I always say stop voting for those who keep putting us through this, get them all out and start a fresh, enough is enough, we are the ones who pay in the end

2024-01-18 19:33:51

Jr . Just to let you know all the workers on Hts were Kier workers before they were tuped over hts. DOH!!

2024-01-18 19:37:09

Also JR. HTS workers are having to recall on outside contractors work.

2024-01-18 19:47:57

Karen .we also have to deal with breakdowns , services are not all we do Also we do take combustion readings on condensing boiler as you say , but you need to do a full service when it comes to Fires and Back boiler units , and there is still many of them on the town

2024-01-18 20:42:56

Oh your back Eddie. For your information YES I did & do know that some of Kia workers were tuped over that's the good ones, the others that have joined after obviously not good but I expect the Kia workers that were tuped over have either left or retired or basically still the ones that put in the effort. Be careful how you read that Eddie!! As you come across like you know it all. HTS is an in-house arrangement with Harlow council even though listed as a group of their own. Call them what you like but I bet you if a survey was to be done the majority of tenents of Harlow council will all come to the same decision "HTS" are useless the office staff are rude, jobs are not fulfilled or done at all ,signed off or done 100% correctly. There's few & far between who haven't become complacent & probably still have pride in what they do. BUT you will never change the tenants view on HTS until we see some results. Starting with the landscape of Harlow estates. Do they not employ any gardeners anymore apart from the ones that attend the way in & the way out. Oh forgot one man does all jobs qualified or not but what they are qualified for is doing NOTHING if they can get away with it. If HTS were doing their jobs then there would be no reason for contractors to bail them out. Maybe the bosses should start employing more as there are more chiefs than Indians there are so many more public coming to live here from over populated boroughs which is now making Harlow over populated & it all needs addressing.

2024-01-18 22:16:10

JR . You seem an intelligent person . Please get the name right if you are going to complain . Kia is a car model . Kier was a company contracted to HDC. I could possibly explain why you may have seen hts employees standing around , but I cannot do it on this post. Sorry

Kim Oconnor
2024-01-19 10:00:31

James Leppard, please stop passing the buck.. stop blaming other's for your council s mistakes please.. I had to put a new toilet system in my COUNCIL house this year, because all your lot done was replaced ball cock. I have a bay window that has been slowly rooting for years,, with very wet windows, and the rain just sits on roof..To be told its not rooting, and was sent 4 letters on how to clean it.. im 65 years old if I don't know how to clean a window I never will, how much did that cost in useless letters.. I have ill fitting doors, they came , and did nothing... James you can fall the people most of the time, but not all the time. JUST STOP BLAMING OTHERS AND DO YOUR JOB PROPERLY. WE pay you to sit there.

Fact or Fiction
2024-01-19 15:25:04

Eddie, don’t rise to the bait! Eddie, don't rise to the bait! JR is one of the usual suspects who struggles to offer anything constructive, only barbed comments or fiction. So to be factual JR: A independent survey was conducted for Harlow Council in 2023; All trades at HTS are fully qualified to complete their roles. HTS are required to cut the grass, trim hedges, provide arborist work/tree surgeon work, for which they are all trained and/or have the appropriate qualifications. They also plant wild flower beds and help maintain the many parks and green spaces in the town for which Harlow has been awarded ‘Green Flags’ Over 300 people TUPE’d over to HTS in 2017, yes a few have retired and some have left, both having been replaced over time. There will always be workers and shirkers in any organisation. Perhaps a more conciliatory approach from you might bring more positive responses from the services available to you. Alternatively, the councillor elections are due soon, perhaps you might put your name forward for a ward where you can constructively contribute to Harlow and its communities.

Crazyhorse 74
2024-01-19 16:40:29

I dont think you can blame the workers its the management

2024-01-19 17:21:32

Fact or fiction . Thank you for your support . I enjoyed debateing with JR , that was until he or she started being rude with the , oh Eddie your back and stated I was a know all. I only know what I know , and my posts were short and to the point , where as JRs were long and boring , so it takes one to know one. I won't be replying to JR again . But thanks again fact or fiction👍

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