Landlord is accused over standards of maintenance
ROCHDALE Boroughwide Housing (RBH) has been accused of only carrying out maintenance work to a ‘minimum standard’ by councillors.
The landlord was criticised for its attitude towards the upkeep of estates it manages by Tory leader Ashley Dearnley and Labour’s regeneration chief, Councillor John Blundell.
Coun Blundell told a full meeting of Rochdale Council that issues concerning grass-cutting and weeding were often worse in areas maintained by RBH rather than those the council was responsible for.
The housing provider has defended its service though, saying it takes its grounds maintenance responsibilities ‘extremely seriously.’
Coun Blundell’s comments were echoed across the chamber by Conservative chief Coun Dearnley, who referred to a visit to Halliday Court in Littleborough, to represent dissatisfied tenants.
He said: “I support what councillor Blundell said, I met with RBH at a block of flats, where the surrounding land was in a terrible condition.
“The general view from RBH on everything we looked at was ‘we do everything to a minimum standard’ and I think that’s an appalling thing to say.
“These residents pay money for these services, why should they not have something better than a minimum standard?”
And Coun Dearnley said that RBH appeared to take pride in doing things to only the most basic of requirements.
He added: “It was almost said as a badge of honour ‘oh, that’s fine, it doesn’t matter that there are weeds there, let them grow more, let that pavement get slippier, it’s minimum standards we work to. Appalling.”
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting, Coun Dearnley said that areas including Buckley View and Louise Gardens in Smallbridge were examples where grass and moss grew between gaps in paving stones to the point it could become ‘like a jungle.’
Coun Blundell said: “Like Ashley Dearnley says, they do it to a minimum standard, they will tell you that to your face.
“But if you take that approach you will get the minimum.
“The point of it is they do just need to get in there and sort it out, whatever the funds are, whatever the situation is,they need to say ‘we are not having this, how do we sort it out.’”
Andrew Roche, who is on the representative body for College Bank said standards of grounds maintenance had ‘fallen’ over the last couple of years. He said: “I have heard a lot of people complaining about paying a charge every month, they don’t think they are getting value for money at all, they think it’s terrible.
But an RBH spokesman said the housing provider took its grounds maintenance responsibilities ‘extremely seriously.’
They added: “We are constantly striving to deliver the best possible service within the service charge budget available. Our tenants and leaseholders currently pay an average of £1.54 per week for this service.
“We have recently adopted new service standards for grounds maintenance, which we have developed with our tenant-led Communities Panel.
“We have also invested in new machinery, including a ‘weed ripper’ which is specifically for cleaning RBH-owned footpaths in our neighbourhoods. This is a key part of our winter maintenance programme.”
RBH says that tenant satisfaction rates have improved steadily since bringing the service in-house in 2015, but is always ‘happy to hear from elected members if they have any queries on behalf of their constituents.’
●●Criticims: Coun Ashley Dearnley