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

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