Housing Stop Press April 2009pub by asafwewe


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									                                                                              May 2009

                                        Housing Stop Press
   If you would like a copy of this leaflet in another format e.g. in large print, on
     audiotape, in another language or through discussion, please contact the
                                         Housing Division.
                                   Progress to Deliver Decent Homes

                              Since April 2008, the Council has been working with Lovell
                              Partnership to improve Tenants’ homes and ensure they meet
                              the Government’s decent homes standard. We are making
                                 excellent progress with high levels of satisfaction reported to
                                 the Housing Division. Work started in earnest in July 2008
                                 and since then we have carried out 165 kitchen & bathroom
                                 improvements, 120 window replacements and installed 263
                                 new doors. In addition, in March we completed a major
                                 programme to provide gas mains to our estates which
                                 didn’t have mains gas previously. This means that we have
                                 been able to renew 109 boilers to help Tenants have more
                                 access to a more economic and easier to use heating
       Meet new staff in the
  Neighbourhood Warden Service
In January, Councillors agreed to extend the
highly successful Neighbourhood Services Team
and to increase the team numbers to ensure it can
be more proactive in ensuring our estates are in
excellent order. The Neighbourhood Warden
Service has been very well received. The
Wardens have worked tirelessly over the last
twelve months to raise the profile of their work to
make positive links in the community and to visibly
make a difference to the areas in which they work.
They have strong links to the Council’s Tenant
Led Community Panels and they are joined by Tenants, Police Officers and local Ward
Members on their publicised neighbourhood walks. They also work hand-in-hand with the
Council’s Streetscape Team and with Community Development.

The expansion of the team will enable the service to develop and build on its success and
continue to deliver high standards to meet Tenants’ expectations. A fourth warden will allow
the team to concentrate on hot spots when required, extend the neighbourhood walks to
smaller villages that would benefit from a visible Council presence, extend links into the
community – including promoting Tenant activity on their estates, intergenerational work and
community safety initiatives, extend the clean up work they do in sheltered scheme areas to
estates more widely and promote more use of the community rooms in sheltered schemes
to overcome social isolation in the older community.

                             In our newsletters we have
                             been reporting a new way
we are introducing for housing applicants to tell us
what properties they want to be considered for. At the
end of May this year the new system will be in place.
It’s called ‘UChoose’ because it’s about you
telling us your choice of properties rather than waiting
for contact from us. You find out which properties are
vacant by checking the weekly adverts on our website,
in the Council’s One Stop Shop and through weekly
bulletins. The new system won’t increase the
number of vacancies we have to let and we will still use our allocations policy to identify
who is offered a property but it will give customers more information and more choice.
More information will be available on UChoose in newsletters to applicants, at drop-in-
sessions in our One Stop Shop and on our website. To find out more contact the
Housing Services team on 01827 719314, e mail housingservices@northwarks.gov.uk or
see our Frequently Asked Questions on the website at www.northwarks.gov.uk/uchoose.

                                Get Involved
                     What Standards do you Expect?

                                     The Tenant Services
Authority will take over from the Audit Commission in March
2010 as the body which will ensure the Council’s housing
services are delivered to a high standard. As you are aware
the Council already has standards for its housing services
that were agreed with Tenants and are published in your
Tenants handbook. The new Tenant Services Authority wants
to establish national standards from which it can hold
landlords of social housing to account but it also wants to
ensure that good local standards are in place too.

The Tenant Services Authority wants to listen to Tenants to find out about what standards
they want. Its calling this a ‘National Conversation’ As part of this National Conversation,
North Warwickshire Borough Council Housing has talked to the Borough Wide Tenants
Forum and other Tenants at local and Community Panel Meetings to understand what
issues matter most to Tenants and listen to your views. We have also been talking to
Tenants about what services they need and what standards they expect. We would like to
take this opportunity to thank all those that completed and returned the Tenant Services
Authority Questionnaire. To find out more you can contact your Tenant Participation Officer,
Leanne Allwood on 01827 719402 or visit www.nationalconversation.co.uk
Asbestos                       ‘Your Safety our Priority’
Over recent months you may have had a letter from us which identifies places in your
home which may have asbestos. Asbestos is a harmful material that can cause illnesses
and was used extensively in building homes during the last century. The Council has a
legal duty to protect our workforce from the effects of
asbestos and is also working to protect Tenants. We have
recently undertaken a survey of properties throughout our
stock. This gave us a sample of issues which could arise in
different homes. Although we may not have surveyed your
property directly we will have surveyed one very similar of
the same age and type. The main areas where asbestos
has been located has been externally on fascias and
soffits, although internally asbestos can be found on floor
tiles, bath panels, in meter cupboards and airing cupboard
doors. If you have any concerns about asbestos in your home and would like to speak to
someone please contact Dave Ellis on 01827 719323 or our Repairs Team on 01827

                             Housing Direct Works

  As part of our modernised
  Housing Direct Works Team we now
  carry out electrical repairs and checks
  using our in house staff. Throughout the
  year the team has worked hard to gain
  accreditation by the National Inspection
  Council Electrical Installation Contracting
  (NICEIC.) This is the body that ensures
  our electricians work to meet the latest
  standards and they also provide training
  and advise us so that we can keep our
  team up-to-date on the latest
  development in the electrical industry.
  (Opposite is a photograph of the team.)

                      Help us to Keep you Safe

    Please help us keep you safe and give us access to your home once a year to
    carry out a service to your gas appliances. Most Tenants do give us ready access
    to their home for this important work. Unfortunately, some do not. Having the
    gas service check is so important that if a Tenant does not let us into their home,
    we will take legal action to ensure we can carry out the service. However, we don’t
    want to do this. We can be flexible and book appointments around work or other
    commitments so there is no need for Tenants to prevent us gaining access. The
    work is now carried out by our own Housing Direct Workforce so it is a familiar,
    friendly face at the door. Help us keep you safe. Please let us in to do the service.
                                     Have Your Say!
                     We have noted an increase in people attending local
                     Tenants meetings but there is still room for more. If meetings
                     aren’t for you, join one of our service improvement working
                     groups. Our working groups cover the areas of allocations,
                     rent arrears and income management and repairs and
                     improvements. This is a real opportunity for Tenant’s with
                     an interest in one of these areas to act as ‘Tenant
                     Champions’. This could be by joining in on a focus group,
                     helping to develop service improvement plans or simply by
taking the time to share your opinions and ideas with us. We are very
interested in talking to those Tenants who have yet to establish their voice,
especially those who cannot attend daytime meetings or younger Tenants. If
you would like more information on how you too can get involved, please
contact Leanne Allwood, Tenant Participation Officer, on 01827 719402 or
e-mail her at: tenantparticipation@northwarks.gov.uk

                Tenant Partnership Agreement

 Have a look at our revised Tenant
 Partnership Agreement 2009 – 2010. The
 aim of the Agreement is to give Tenants a
 greater say in the way Housing Services are
 delivered and develop new opportunities for
 involvement. The Agreement was revised
 earlier this year through a number of
 workshops where Tenants, Officers and
 Councillors worked together. We want to
 work with Tenants as part of our
 commitment to improve services and
 ensure that your estates are places where
 people choose to live. Both the Council and Tenants can achieve this by
 working in partnership and following a few simple steps:

  • Sharing values                                 • Listening to each other
  • Being honest and open                          • Working together
  • Consulting and giving feedback                 • Keeping commitments

 Full copies of the Tenant Partnership Agreement 2009 - 2010 are available by
 contacting the Tenant Participation Officer on: 01827 719402 or visit our
 website at: www.northwarks.gov.uk

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