Lambeth’s new housing boss wants residents to be at the centre of how the council shapes management contracts.
Cabinet member for housing Cllr Paul Gadsby’s comments came at the latest meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee which was considering a ‘call in’ on the design of housing services in Lambeth after 2020 by all six opposition coumncillors – five Greens and Conservative Cllr Tim Briggs. The call in was accepted on just two points by the council’s monitoring officer.
Cllr Gadsby admitted: “I’m not saying we get things right all the time. “We need to strengthen the contracts – I’ll say that openly”
One of the first things he planned to do was to get more people living on council estates on both resident engagement panels and on contract procurement panels.
New contracts will include ‘no fault’ termination clauses. There would be a new monitoring board with residents to look specifically at contracts. They were also looking to set up a small direct labour organisation (DLO).
Following comments from other committee members voicing concern on break clauses in contracts Cllr Stephen Donnelly (Lab Thornton) said the issue seemed to be really key. “Is a ‘no fault’ break clause on the table?” he asked. It appears to be the one that bothered residents the most, he added.
Cllr Gadsby: “That is on the table. “That is what we want to implement. “We need to make sure we don’t just monitor contracts but also close off any bad behavior by incentivising firms. “If we’re not happy with their work we can activate that and they lose the business. “And our custom. “And their reputation.”
Cllr Maria Kay (Lab, Brixton Hill ) said: “I used to live on the Myatts Fields estate. “At times the work was quite shoddy. “I’d like some reassurance about long-term contracts.”
Cllr Gadsby: “We want to encourage the resident engagement panel (REP) so we have more residents and tenants on there. “We also want to make sure we have BME representation on the procurement panel.”
Earlier Cllr Gadsby had responded to various issues raised by residents representatives who had addressed the committee telling them: “I appreciate the comments made. “It’s encouraging you think there are improvements on what we’ve got at the moment
“A lot has been influenced by you guys. “I know you don’t quite agree with the overall paper but it’s something you’ve had an importance influence on.”
A series of workshops was being lined up where people could drop in and help develop those proposals, he added.
Neil Euesden, assistant director, housing repairs and maintenance, said they were proposing to have just north area and south area housing repairs which would be discussed in the next two months. “Some of this still needs to be looked at properly.” To read the whole report please go to: moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk
Council unveil proposals to shake up housing repairs and maintenance services from 2020
2 August 2019
Lambeth council are planning to overhaul its housing repair, cleaning and major works contracts in consultation with residents which they say will “radically re-shape” its services to improve quality, value and performance.
The proposals would apply to 16 contracts which all end in 2020 and which cover a range of services to council tenants, leaseholders and other residents.
They include major works, which has seen around £500m spent on improving almost 23,000 homes improved since 2011 (with another 5,000 planned in the next year), day-to-day repairs which carries out around 70,000 repairs a year, estate cleaning, lift maintenance and door entry systems. This work has dramatically benefited residents who’ve received new bathrooms and kitchens, work to their buildings and other improvements.
These works are all currently carried out by external firms, but the council is proposing changes that will see a radical shift in who delivers these services and how they will operate.
Proposals published by the council include plans to:
- Create a small, specialist in-house maintenance team to focus on communal repairs following a report from a resident task and finish group which recommended a greater priority is given to communal repairs in council blocks and properties. This insourced service will be the first of its kind created by the council in decades and will focus on employing local residents as part of its recruitment drive.
- The council’s in-house Lambeth Landscapes team will take over maintaining our estate green spaces.
- Major changes to how future contracts are monitored and managed, including a contract monitoring panel that sits in public playing a role in holding contractors to account to ensure that residents receive the highest levels of service.
- Through the council’s newly adopted Responsible Procurement Policy, the council will ensure there are locally-sourced apprenticeships, carbon savings as part of Lambeth’s plans to become carbon neutral by 2030 and ensuring all contractors pay the London Living Wage.
Cllr Paul Gadsby, Lambeth’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Our housing services have delivered a great deal in the past decade, including upgrading 23,000 council homes as part of the Lambeth Housing Standard and doing the day-to-day business of maintaining and repairing our council, freeholder, sheltered and other properties.
“With our current contracts coming to an end this is time to take stock, recognise what we have done well, but also learn from our residents’ feedback about where improvements need to be made.
“That is why these new proposals will result in an end to the status quo and bring in new arrangements. “We will be creating the first in-house maintenance and repairs team to focus on communal repairs following an outstanding report from a resident-led task and finish group that suggested a dedicated emphasis was needed on this area.
“Where contracts are put out to tender, we will be listening to feedback from residents and radically overhauling the way they operate to put residents at the centre of their work. “We will be creating a residents monitoring board to keep track on performance, increasing post work inspections and strengthening provisions that allow us to terminate contracts if they are not up to scratch.
“We’ll be working with residents on developing our proposals going forward, which will include expanding our procurement panel of residents, which has already made a valuable contribution to the work conducted so far. “There is potential for the council to provide more of the services ourselves and to make sure contracts tie into our values so that the whole community can benefit.” (Source: Lambeth council’s official Love Lambeth website)
EDITOR’S NOTE: The above item on Love Lambeth (slightly edited) then refers to the borough plan and adds: For more information please read the following report – moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk ……..which is the one ‘called in’ by all six opposition members on Lambeth council.