Say council has failed to improve after being blasted by regulator
Maintenance standards continued to be questioned. Picture: Ealing Council
March 23, 2023
The Liberal Democrat opposition on Ealing Council has claimed that the borough has failed to make meaningful improvements in housing repairs since a damning report from the regulator.
Last May, the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) reported back after the council made a self-referral following a number of issues arising over the repair of social housing. Ealing Council fell behind in completing and verifying a large number of safety checks with many thousands of follow-up checks on various technical aspects of buildings well behind schedule. The RSH issued a Regulatory Notice against Ealing Council on 11 May and councillors were made aware of this at a Cabinet meeting a week later.
The watchdog described some of the breaches as shocking and concluded that the borough “could not provide assurance that they had consistently complied with statutory health and safety requirements across a number of areas.”
The council avoided enforcement action from the regulator by entering into a Voluntary Undertaking in which it detailed how it intends to achieve full compliance and the discharge of the Notice.
Ten months after the publication of the report, the Lib Dems say that many of the issues highlighted by the regulator remain. The party recently put forward a budget amendment with the aim of reducing waste and to allocate more money to those in need. In the Budget debate, the opposition group leader Gary Malcolm highlighted the topic of housing repairs which he said Ealing was ‘terrible’ at.
Cllr Malcolm said, “Ealing Council needs to urgently improve their data systems, policies and processes to ensure that all required safety checks including gas, electricity and water are recorded and monitored.
“That was a damning report and despite some of the work now being completed large numbers of tenants are suffering when repairs are not fixed quickly enough. Liberal Democrats want residents to be safe. This Labour administration is not providing housing that is guaranteed to be safe.”
He highlighted a number of cases which he says shows that more improvement is needed in housing repair in the borough. In one instance, an 82-year-old lady council tenant had her ceiling fall down due to a leak upstairs. The council’s repair team refused to give it priority so many months later she cannot stay in her front room as she fears it will collapse. There are no details of when the roof will be repaired and, to make matters worse, the council installed a new kitchen in her flat that was not needed and, according to Cllr Malcolm, was a botched job.
He also reports a leaseholder in a council block telling him of poor work being done by council contractors came to fit fire safety doors badly. He claims there was no advanced notification of the works and fitters had little or no ID meaning that residents did not feel safe.
Cllr Malcolm quotes another resident as saying, “Water is pouring through my ceiling, there is a risk of an accident, half of the ceiling has almost fallen on my head.”
He says, “This is not good enough when many report repair issues to Ealing Council and they have been either too slow or appear to have ignored residents’ pleas. Liberal Democrats are standing up for residents on this important issue.
“Ealing Council may have sacked some of the repair contractors, but many tenants and leaseholders are left at risk. The Regulators comments were very clear. Labour-run Ealing Council needs to be clearer about what it has done and not done and what it will do to ensure the safety of tenants and leaseholders in Council properties.
“This tired, Labour administration has been here for 13 years. Its current Leader was responsible for housing matters for two years.”
He asked that anyone who is having difficulties with the council on a housing repair to contact him at email@example.com.
We contacted Ealing Council for a comment on Cllr Malcolm’s claims but are yet to receive a response.
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