VIEWS: 4 PAGES: 12 POSTED ON: 10/25/2012
Housing Winter 2011 News and Views STAR to shine light on improvements This January all tenants and complete the form either on paper to leaseholders are getting the chance post or online. The more people who to tell us how satisfied they are share their views with us, the better and maintenance, landscaping and with the council’s housing service – informed any improvements to the cleaning communal areas. and how we could improve it housing service will be. To ensure that we are delivering our further. The survey has been designed by the service fairly, the survey also includes In the new year you will be sent a HouseMark organisation which helps voluntary questions asking for Survey of Tenants and Residents – or social housing providers like the council information about everyone living in STAR. STAR is the most extensive survey make the best use of their resources to each household. Personal information of tenants’ opinions we have ever provide high quality services. will not be passed to anyone outside the undertaken. It will show us how our housing service. We have also worked closely with a housing service is performing compared group of tenants to find out which areas STAR will be dropping on your doorstep with other social landlords and enable us of our service you would especially like in January, along with a letter telling you to make real improvements by to examine. As well as general questions more about it. For more information highlighting our weaker areas and about how satisfied you are with your phone 01442 228000 and ask for enabling us to address them. home and neighbourhood, they also ‘Tenant Involvement’ or email It will take you just a few minutes to asked us to include questions on repairs firstname.lastname@example.org Tenants’ conference report We held our first ever Tenants’ Conference at Longdean School in Bennetts End, Hemel Hempstead in October – and our housing team (pictured right) enjoyed being able to meet those of you who were able to come. If you did not manage to attend, you can still see what went on in a special ‘Getting to know you’ feature on pages 6 and 7. And watch out for details of the next event for tenants we’ll be hosting in the summer. 02 | News and views www.dacorum.gov.uk Stop when you shop 12-16 December We will be out and about across the borough from 12 to 16 December to get your feedback on a number of housing issues, including our Christmas rent campaign and potential changes to your tenancy agreement. Please stop and share your ideas and opinions: • Monday 12 December, 10am to 2pm: Tesco car park, Tring • Tuesday 13 December, 10am to 2pm: Grovehill shops, Henry Wells Square • Thursday 15 December, 10am to 2pm: Berkhamsted town centre, near the Civic Centre • Friday 16 December, 10am to 2pm: Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, near the Volunteer Bureau (Roundhouse) If you can’t make it to any of the sessions please call 01442 228000 and ask for ‘Tenant Involvement’ or email email@example.com Safety first on landings Weather warning text service Extremes of weather, like snow and ice, can cause disruption to your waste collections. Now you can get up-to-date information about your bin collections sent straight Hertfordshire Fire and don’t clutter!’ information to your mobile phone. Rescue Service have leaflet and an article also advised us to take a zero appeared in local To sign up to the alerts send a text tolerance approach to Keep clear newspaper The Gazette. message to 60777 saying "DBC waste" items being stored in the Don’t clutter! Anyone who has not yet then your house number (or house communal areas of flats. seen it can download it name) and postcode. For example, "DBC from our website www.dacorum. waste 80 HP4 2DR". This means that all items from plants, gov.uk/walkabouts door mats and shoes to litter, pushchairs Your initial text will be charged at your and bulky items must not be left outside Staff from the housing team recently standard network rate (it may be your property. These could cause visited two areas of the borough and charged outside your inclusive text someone to trip or block the escape removed items in line with the policy. package). You will not be charged to route during a fire. Residents who wish to recover these receive the alerts. belongings need to pay £15. Our Clear Landings Policy has been For more information on refuse and publicised widely: by now most flats Please consider your own safety and the recycling, visit have received a letter and ‘Keep clear, safety of others. www.dacorum.gov.uk/recycling 01442 228000 firstname.lastname@example.org News and views | 03 Are you moving with Dacorum? We have received around 1750 new and re-registrations for housing using our new online housing register service since it launched on 1 November. From now on all available properties will be advertised on the new website www.movingwithdacorum.org.uk If you have already made a housing application but not yet re-registered, it is Behind the scenes important to do so as soon as possible. Who are the people who make up If you have difficulties in registering Dacorum’s housing service? Here we online, please ask friends or family for meet Income Officer Paula Bowman help. You can also visit the council’s who ensures the council receives all Customer Service Centre at Hemel the rent owed. Hempstead or Berkhamsted Civic Centres “On the face of it my job might not look where help and a computer are popular, but I love working with our available. For further help and guidance, tenants. I’ve been here for two years please visit now and with rent recovery since April. www.movingwithdacorum.org.uk or call It’s so fulfilling to know I can help 01442 228000 and ask for ‘Housing’. people. “Most of the time when people miss payments because they’re having Have you seen our Annual Report? temporary difficulties – perhaps they’ve been ill and missed work or We hope that many of you have now had the chance to see our been made redundant. Annual Report to Tenants and Leaseholders 2010/11, which is available both as a DVD and in print. “I spend a lot of time discussing problems on the phone, but I also ask If you have not seen it yet, please remember that you can: people to come in for a face-to-face • Phone us and we can post either a printed report and/or a meeting or I go on home visits. Then I DVD to you usually set up individual payment plans so they can make smaller but • Collect a copy from our Customer Service Centres in Hemel regular repayments. Sometimes Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring voluntary organisations also help. • View both versions on our website www.dacorum.gov.uk/HousingAnnualReport “Our ‘Peace of mind at Christmas’ A number of tenants and leaseholders helped us produce the report, advising on the campaign [see page 5] is all about content and design, providing real life stories and featuring in photographs and film encouraging tenants not to miss footage. If you would like to get involved in next year’s report or give us some payments over the holiday and avoid feedback, we would love to hear from you. sliding into debt. To get in touch please call 01442 228000 and say ‘Tenant Involvement’ or email “Tenants really do have to pay their email@example.com rent. Since April we’ve been forced to evict 15 tenants because they didn’t Help to switch to digital pay their rent time after time which is not something we take lightly. I can’t In 2012 the traditional TV signal will be switched off in our stress how important it is to get in region and replaced with a digital TV signal. For more touch and let us help.” information visit the website www.helpscheme.co.uk or call To contact Paula or her team call 0800 40 85 900. 01442 228000 and ask for ‘rent’. 04 | Tenants and Leaseholders Committee www.dacorum.gov.uk A letter from Rose Kosmalski, Chair of your Tenant and Leaseholder Committee (TLC) Dear Tenants and Leaseholders Your Tenant and Leaseholder Committee is now nearly a year old – and a lot has been achieved during this time. In 2010 the Tenant Services Authority launched the new standard for social housing which included tenant participation. Dacorum Borough Council wanted a meaningful dialogue with their tenants so a new committee was set up to take this forward. The TLC held its first meeting at the council on 24 January 2011. To be a member of the TLC we all had to go through an interview which was carried out by other tenants and leaseholders. The TLC look at the processes and procedures of the housing service and scrutinise the performance of the service it delivers to tenants. So far we have worked together on the Annual Report and DVD (see page 3) and the Tenants’ handbook, which we hope you all liked. We have also held the Tenants’ conference on 29 October. A big thank you to all the tenants and staff involved in the organisation of the event, which was a resounding success as you can see from pages 6 and 7. Watch out for the date of the conference next year. Over the next few months we will be working together with the Counc il looking at finance and governance of Housing Landlord. The TLC will give you an update every quarter of what we have been looking at. Don’t forget the ‘Peace of mind at Christmas’ campaign Dacorum is running over Christmas (see page 5 opposite). If you do have any difficulties paying your rent or council tax over Christmas get in touch on 01442 228000 ask for ‘housing’ and speak to a helpful member of staff. Please don’t put your home at risk by avoiding dealing with rent arrears – help is at hand. The TLC represents you, the tenant and resident leaseholders from all over Dacorum. If you want to get in touch with us you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. We promis e to respond to emails that come in to us. You can also write to us, in confidence, c/o Hemel Hempstead Civic Centre, Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, HP1 1HH. The TLC and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Best wishes Rose On behalf of the TLC 01442 228000 email@example.com Help and advice | 05 Peace of mind at Christmas Income Team Leader Phil says: “I see people Dacorum and together we find a way to Katie Kiely and Phil every day who are help. You can either call the council on Brett, Project Worker struggling – but there’s 01442 228000 or call Turning Point on from housing support always an answer. I work 01438 724995. Please get in touch as agency Turning Point, joined closely with the housing staff at soon as you think there’s a problem.” forces early in December and were guests on a BBC Three Counties Radio listener phone-in about Partnership portal to learning housing, bills and benefits. Are you trying to get back into work, threatened with They were spreading the word that it is redundancy or simply important to keep money aside over looking to add to your skills? Christmas to pay your rent and council Dacorum Borough Council is a tax, even when money is tight. member of the local Learning Katie’s simple message is: “The best Partnership which links up present you can give yourself is peace of learning providers and mind – and we want to help keep you encourages lifelong learning out of debt. If all the bills seem to have for individuals and communities in Dacorum. The arrived at once, we’ll help you sort out Partnership aims to help what to pay first.” residents to move from Katie and her team (pictured above) are benefits into employment. always here to help if you’re having For free and confidential professional careers advice or information on current difficulties meeting payments and can training courses, local learning providers, local computer facilities and IT training, also advise you of other support visit the website www.dacorumlearningp.btck.co.uk agencies such as Turning Point. 06 | Involving you www.dacorum.gov.uk Getting to We held our first ever Tenants’ Conference at Longdea Saturday 29 October. Everyone was welcome and ove “excellent, well done” and “interesting, I really enjoye Carolyn Leech, Tenant Involvement Team Leader, whose team orga tenants, councillors and housing staff to meet face-to-face, get to k “It’s always hard starting something from scratch, but we worked w programme on offer. Next year I hope we’ll build on it further and TLC Chair Rose Kosmalski with Councillor Griffiths T he conference was opened by Rose Kosmalski, Chair of the Tenants and Leaseholders Committee (see Rose’s report page 4) and was followed by an introduction to Dacorum’s Housing Landlord Service by Elliott Brooks, Assistant Director of the service. Taking a detailed look Tenants could then take their pick from a series of workshops which helped them learn about different areas of the housing The Question Time panel service in more detail. The workshops included: • an introduction to self-financing and how we spend your money; Any questions? • a look at the environment and how we tackle problems with Next on the conference’s agenda was Question Time, where parking and anti-social behaviour; and tenants could pose questions to a panel made up of Portfolio • repairs and maintenance. Holder for Housing Councillor Margaret Griffiths, Elliott Brooks, Katie Kiely (Income Team Leader), Jack Burnham (Strategic One tenant commented on the repairs workshop: “All of the group Housing Team Leader), Mark Kibble (Maintenance Team Leader) contributed to the workshop with an open and honest view. The and Rose Kosmalski. answers were direct and honest.” Andy Vincent, Group Manager for Tenancy and Leaseholder Services chaired the panel and directed questions from street lighting and parking to choice-based letting and under-occupation. Going the extra mile One of the highlights of the conference was the Resident Awards ceremony, where a number of tenants were recognised for their time and dedication in supporting the housing landlord service. Councillor Margaret Griffiths said: “To provide an excellent housing service we need a two-way relationship with our tenants – and this year the way people got involved and gave us a real insight into what goes on in their homes and communities has been amazing.” Marian Taylor, Stuart Parker, Barb Stevens and Dave Stevens Workshops examined different areas of housing in detail (pictured left to right) were given an award for their contribution 01442 228000 firstname.lastname@example.org Involving you | 07 know you an School in Bennetts End, Hemel Hempstead on er 40 tenants attended. Feedback ranged from ed it” to “well presented and informative”. anised the conference, said: “It was a great opportunity for know each other and share ideas. with tenants beforehand to ensure that we had a full and varied d the conference will become a popular annual fixture.” The 'ask the audience' conference evaluation All work and no play... Towards the end of the morning some light relief was provided by a raffle with prizes supplied by our contractors Mitie and Apollo as well as local businesses. And then it was time to end the conference with an interactive ‘ask the audience’ style evaluation and a few final words from Councillor Griffiths. Everyone was then free to mingle over lunch and look around the exhibitions on display. Carolyn summed up the day: “It was a hugely enjoyable day and to the new Tenants’ handbook, while others were also thanked for everyone left feeling that they’d learnt something, staff and their efforts advising on Annual Report 2010-11 and the tenants alike. We hope to make the conference even bigger next conference itself. year and get more young people and families involved. In the We are hoping to extend the awards next year to give all tenants meantime, we’re also planning an event for the summer. If you the opportunity to nominate your neighbours for going the extra would like to find out how you could be involved then please mile in your community. contact the Tenant Involvement team for more details.” Raffle prizes were donated by contractors and local businesses 08 | Your tenancy www.dacorum.gov.uk Give a little respect Dacorum Borough Council Chief Exectuive Danny Zammit has signed up to the Respect Anti- social Behaviour (ASB) Charter for Housing – demonstrating the commitment to tackle ASB across our organisation. Estate Improvement Officer Sharon Clayton (centre), Gadebridge Councillor Roger Taylor (right) and the Clean, Safe and Green team More walk, less talk ASB continues to be a key issue for landlords, tenants and communities. This voluntary If your estate suffers from graffiti, litter, untidy gardens or cars parked on grass standard is set by the Chartered verges, don’t just talk about it – take action! Institute of Housing, the Social That’s the message from our estate During estate walkabouts residents and Landlord Crime and Nuisance improvement staff, who recently carried council staff walk around the Group and HouseMark. By signing out a series of estate walkabouts across neighbourhood together looking for it, we are making a public the borough. Sharon Clayton says: “I just anything that makes the estate look commitment to provide a high want to say a big thank you to everyone unsightly. Your Estate Improvement quality service to prevent and who joined in the Gadebridge walkabout. Officer logs all the problems you identify effectively combat anti-social It was good to work as a team with our and the ways your walkabout team think behaviour (ASB). We are also council colleagues although we do need its best to tackle them. committing ourselves to be more residents to join in if we’re going There’s now a leaflet available telling accountable to our tenants for its to make a real difference. you more about estate walkabouts. Call delivery. Resident Moira Scott came along to the Sharon on 01442 228000 or read it on Having the Respect charter means Adeyfield walkabout: “I wanted to come our website www.dacorum.gov.uk/ we can work with our residents so walkabouts – where we’ll also advertise that ASB services match local along today to see what it is all about dates of future walkabouts and publish needs and priorities. and point out the things that I think we the walkabout action reports. need. We all want to live in a nice For more information visit environment, so it’s for everyone’s So please spread the word, team up with www.cih.org/respectcharter benefit to come along.” your neighbours and join in. Deadline for area improvements money The deadline for applications for a would help you and your neighbours fund improvements like these. You can grant from the housing service’s new to grow vegetables. bid for up to £1,000 of the Housing Environmental Improvement Budget service’s new Environmental is the end of January 2012. Or maybe you’d like a bench on the Improvement Budget; there is no communal green, or to plant some minimum bid. How would you improve your area if bulbs on the grass verges or amenity we gave you some money? Perhaps greens. For more information and details of you live in a flat and think some how to apply please call 01442 planters in the communal drying area Tenants can now apply for a grant to 228000 and ask for Selina Burris. 01442 228000 email@example.com Your tenancy | 09 Disabled adaptations installed faster and for free Tenants needing disabled aids or adaptations to their council homes will no longer need to pay – and will get the work done faster. We make around 100 adaptations to our This will cut down administration time properties each year which help disabled and enable tenants to benefit sooner tenants to live independently in their from the adaptations. homes, such as building ramps, installing If you think you might need aids or level access showers, widening doors adaptations to your home, please see and fixing grab rails. your GP. He or she will arrange for an Following a review of this service, occupational therapist to assess what is councillors have agreed that tenants’ will For more information on the service right for you. no longer need to make a financial itself, please contact call Sharon Abbott contribution, except where the work Call your GP or Health and Community on 01442 228000 or email costs over £10,000. Services on 0300 1234 042. firstname.lastname@example.org Swap homes to suit your size Is your home too big for you? Do you need more space? Or do you want to move area? Our mutual exchange programme matches tenants who wish to swap homes, and help avoid what might be a lengthy wait for a transfer. Local shopping centres got an Action Group revamp recently Simply fill in your details on our website Your Neighbourhood Action Group needs you! www.dacorum.houseexchange.org.uk and search for suitable properties to If you’re keen on improving your neighbourhood further and getting involved with exchange with. A three-way exchange is the community, you can become a member of your local Neighbourhood Action also possible. Further details and copies Steering Group. of the house exchange leaflet are If you live in the Highfield, Grovehill, Woodhall Farm, Piccotts End, Bennetts End, available by contacting calling Adeyfield, Hemel Hempstead Town Centre, Bourne End, Box Lane or Felden areas and 01442 228000 and asking for ‘Housing’ would like to find out more, please call Joe Guiton on 01442 228000 or email or emailing email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org 10 | Supported housing www.dacorum.gov.uk Dacorum celebrates Older People’s Week UK Older People’s Week took place at the beginning of October – and Dacorum’s Supported Housing schemes entered into the spirit of things. The aim of the week was to encourage class. There was lots of people to get and stay active in later life. laughter throughout! Our Supported Housing Officers Yoga is already held organised events and activities across once a week at Lagley the borough. House in Berkhamsted, Dharini Chandarana, Supported Housing aiming to relax the Team Leader, said: “The idea was to mind and body and encourage our residents to join in, have improve flexibility and energy levels. against one another. Many hadn’t played fun and get to know each other. In many Older People’s Week attracted two in years, so it was a good opportunity to cases we hope the activities will additions to the group. Sheila, one of the get back into the game. Emma continue – people maybe enjoyed their new members, said: “I absolutely loved Rothschild’s Court won on the day, but taste of yoga or perhaps revived the class. I could join in with everything the teams now hope to start a darts forgotten darts skills!” and learnt some new techniques for league so there will be opportunities for breathing”. a re-match. Resident Coral Basil said: Residents at Gilbert Burnett House in “Although I knew there were other Hemel Hempstead (pictured) and Dudley Lagley House was also the setting for a schemes out there I had never met House in Bovingdon took part in gentle fiercely contested darts tournament. anyone from them. It has opened up a but stimulating seated exercises. Each Tenants from four schemes – Christopher whole new world.” person was given a bottle of water to Court and Gilbert Burnett House from use as a weight before the qualified Hemel, Emma Rothschild’s Court in Tring Southernwood Close in Hemel physiotherapist started the hour-long and the host team – pitted their skills Hempstead organised a games afternoon which was so popular it has become a weekly event. Tenants played snooker, darts, board games and Wii – which was new to most and a big hit. Other new activities are in the pipeline for tenants. Joe, one of the tenants at Southernwood Close, is organising a gardening project. After clearing a patch of weeds, a rockery will be created with alpine plants donated by Hilliers Garden Centre, Hemel Hempstead. Brian and Robert, from Gilbert Burnett House, are designing a bird feeding area with money donated by Pride of Herts Lodge in Kings Langley. If you have any ideas for new activities please speak to your supported housing officer. Call 01442 228000 and ask for ‘Supported Housing’. 01442 228000 email@example.com Repairs | 11 Homes survey update Savills surveyors have almost completed their assessment of Dacorum’s council homes. The survey will help us plan for future repairs and maintenance. The Government also needs us to put an overall value on our properties before we can start the new self-financing arrangement. Many of you will have already received a visit. However, the survey will continue up to 23 December, including weekend visits. If a surveyor calls at your property, we would be grateful if you could let them look round your home. All surveyors will be wearing Savill’s identification badges and carrying a letter of authorisation on the council’s headed paper. Call 01442 228000 and ask for ‘Housing’ if you need to check. Apollo’s winter warmers Staff working for Apollo, our planned maintenance contractor, are being trained to advise residents on energy efficiency in the home. Heating your home typically accounts for around 60% of your total energy bill every year and during the winter months these costs rise. However, there are a number of things you can do to reduce this – reducing both your bills and your carbon footprint: Kids get colouring for Christmas • Draw curtains when it gets dark to prevent heat escaping and draughts. Maria McKenna, Resident Liaison Officer for our repairs contractor MITIE, is • Consider putting on an extra layer of organising a Christmas colouring clothing before turning up the heating competition for children in the borough. A at home. winner from each of three age categories • Don’t open windows if it gets too hot: (up to 6yrs, 7–10 years and 11–14 years) adjust the thermostat instead. will receive a Christmas goodie box. • Set the heating to switch off just The closing date is Monday 19 December before you go to bed and on again just and winners will be told by 23 December. before you wake up in the morning to Pick up an entry form from our Customer reduce the energy used overnight. Service Centre (CSU) at Hemel Hempstead • If your home has wooden floorboards, Civic Centre where there is also a box for fill these with sealant to prevent completed pictures. draughts. Maria has a weekly repairs hot desk at the For more ideas read Apollo’s ‘Top tips for Hemel Hempstead CSU every Thursday a greener home’ leaflet on our website (pictured) from 9.30am to 1pm where you www.dacorum.gov.uk/housing or email can drop in and talk to her about your Resident Liaison Officer Matt Pluck at repairs. firstname.lastname@example.org 12 | News in brief www.dacorum.gov.uk Keep safe this Christmas Please remember to use candles and decorative lights safely this Christmas. Keep candles away from light fittings or fires, never put them on Christmas trees and never leave them burning unattended. Check Christmas lights carefully before use: buy new ones with a BS Kite safety mark if the cabling is damaged or bulbs are loose. Turn the lights off when the room is empty and especially when you go to bed. Only use lights outside if they are specially made for external use. The Electrical Safety Council and Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have more safety tips. Visit their websites www.esc.org.uk and www.rospa.com Leaseholder Christmas handbook review The Leaseholders’ handbook is being opening hours reviewed and a new version will be published next year. Dacorum Borough Council offices, including We are keen to hear our customer service centres, will be suggestions from closed for bank holidays over Christmas leaseholders about and New Year on Monday 26 and improving the Tuesday 27 December 2011, and current handbook or Monday 2 January 2012. suggestions about the content you During these times you can still would like to see contact the housing repairs included. Please email your feedback to service on 0800 018 6050 and Julie Moseley on julie.moseley@ make payments using our 24 dacorum.gov.uk by the end April 2012. hour automated service on 08453 70 60 70. For other services’ opening times Winter Digest out now over the holidays, and for many Have you read of our services online, visit the latest ww.dacorum.gov.uk Dacorum Digest, our quarterly residents’ Contact us... magazine? It features news If you would like more information, want to give us some feedback from across the or would like this issue in another format such as large print, audio Council, tape or in another language, please ring 01442 228000 and say the including a round up of local events happening over name of the person you want to speak to or simply ask for ‘Housing’ Christmas. By now all homes in or ‘Tenant Involvement’. You can also email us on Dacorum should have received the email@example.com or visit www.dacorum.gov.uk Winter issue. You can also read it online Textphone users please call 01442 228656. at www.dacorum.gov.uk/digest or pick up a copy at your local library or from Find us on facebook and twitter. our civic centres.
"Poor Wall Swatch - Dacorum Borough Council"