Meeting documents

Tenant & Leaseholder Panel
Tuesday, 13th October, 2015

Tenants and Leaseholders Panel Minutes

Tuesday 13th October 2015
The Council Chamber, The Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX|

Attendance Details


Michael Hewlett (Chair), Marilyn Smithies (Vice-Chair), Syed Ahmed, Aishnine Benjamin, Yaw Boateng, James Cassidy, Peter Cooper, Bernard Daws, Tarik Jamil, Jim Mansell, Edita Meier, David Palmer, Guy Pile-Grey, John Piper, Stephen Pollard, Sharon Swaby, Laurence Taylor, Kim Wakely, Colin Wood

Councillors Lynne Hale, Maddie Henson, Oliver Lewis, Joy Prince and Manju Shahul-Hameed
Councillor Alison Butler, Deputy Leader (Statutory) - Cabinet Member for Homes & Regeneration
Rob Brown (Strategic Programme Manager, Commissioning), Barry Lambton (Green Spaces Manager), Tim Nash (Resident Involvement Co-ordinator), Judy Pevan (Service Manager Stock Investment), Paul Ratcliffe (Community and Street Safety Manager), Bob Richardson (Head of Planning Maintenance and Improvements), Chris Stock (Resident Involvement and Scrutiny Manager), Elaine Wadsworth (Head of Housing Strategy & Commissioning).
Plus Sheila Mitchell (Upper Norwood) and Oriel Weekes (Thornton Heath).
Councillors Dudley Mead and Michael Neal
Apologies for absence:
Sian Foley (Head of Service Development) - on leave, Sylvia Fletcher, James Fraser, Peter Mason, Maureen Symes and Cllr Oliver Lewis (for lateness).

Item Item/Resolution

There were no disclosures of pecuniary interest at this meeting.


The Chair, Michael Hewlett, welcomed all to the meeting. 


Revised minutes were circulated at the meeting with the correct full attendance details.

The minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 7 July 2015 were then agreed as a true record of the proceedings.


Paul Ratcliffe (Head of Community & Street Safety) gave a brief summary of the progress of the project:

  • Service live 1 September
  • New distinctive uniforms arrived and being distributed
  • Formal rollout within next 2-3 weeks
  • Areas divided up - North East, North West, South West plus Town Centre
  • 15 members of staff transferred to new service


Members of the panel were disappointed that Andy Opie had not been able to attend.

The following issues were raised:

  • Slow roll out.  When warden service ended, youth problems and ASB continued.  Need smoother transition.
  • Promised 'as good as, if not better' service but it is worse
  • No prior consultation about the change in service - just presented with 'fait accompli'
  • 6 weeks since roll out - used to having wardens attending 2-3 times a week but hardly seen any safety officers - only two tenants confirmed safety officers had knocked on the door - one when they were in and another when they left a message
  • Lack of visibility in the north of the borough
  • Since children back to school there have been major problems. 
  • Last 4 weeks two officers seen - asked for someone to get in contact but no one has. 
  • Had to phone police on 101 due to youth problems - not criminal issues. 
  • If cannot see staff, what happens when major incident happens?
  • Poor excuse to say no uniforms.
  • Why could they not have worn old purple uniforms until new ones arrived? 
  • Can take 25 mins to get through on switchboard.  Cannot get through in emergency. 
  • No plan can work from start to finish without a glitch. Is there a plan B?   


Paul Ratcliffe:  We are rolling out service as asked to do.  We created a leaflet to go out to all tenants, explaining how to report incidents, who the teams are and how to contact them - through My Account, online, using smart phones, through contact centre.

The Service will not be the same.  We are providing a service across the borough, not just on housing land.  We have set up performance indicators to monitor progress and we will come back with statistics at future meetings.  Co-ordinating issues which neighbourhood wardens dealt with - now in a different team.  3 teams now instead of neighbourhood wardens.  Safety officers are dealing with enforcement.  We had to train staff.  Uniform changes are corporate.  You may see different officers for different issues as there are no dedicated ward officers.

  • Can we see samples of the uniform so we know what the staff look like?


Paul Ratcliffe:  We will bring officers to the next meeting. 

  • Aishnine Benjamin:  Could we consult on performance indicators?


Paul Ratcliffe:  Yes that's possible.  We want to get something up and running quickly, to see where we are at the beginning and again in 6 months.


Barry Lambton (Green Spaces Manager) attended to explain the issues regarding this new approach:

  • Change has been a difficult one
  • Now coming back to business as usual, i.e. prior to introduction of the village approach
  • Introduced to enable services to be provided in 8 areas across the borough, rather than borough-wide, as previously
  • Problems - particularly with bulk collections - gone through a number of remodelling exercises with Veolia, to change ramp sizes and staffing in different areas
  • Still experiencing some missed collections


The following issues were raised:

  • Main problem continues to be food waste bins - particularly for flats. 
  • Friday collection missed - inspector was emailed but it was missed again the next Friday. 
  • Who owns the food waste bins? Who responsible for cleaning? Who responsible for replacing?


Barry Lambton:  The team that do the bulk recycling have had problems with Friday collections.  If missed, it should go through to the service desk to reschedule for collection on Saturday but this has not always been happening.  We are working with the housing team and will take this back to look into it.

The food bins are owned by council.  Cleansing is responsibility of Housing Services - due to start next week.  It is done twice a year.  Broken bins are replaced by Housing Services.  First set of cleaning was around May 2015.  Next time, stickers will be put on bins with the date when cleaned.


  • Food waste bins - cleaning only twice a year is not enough - needs to be 4 times a year.
  • Not had any food bins cleaned this year. Disgusting in hot summer.
  • Contractors collected food bin waste but spilled it all over the gardens and did not clean it up.


Barry Lambton:  We will take this on board.  We can organise cleansing more frequently but would have to be a paid-for service.  Cleaning bins would be an additional service for the contractor to carry out.

Veolia should have cleaned up the mess if they were responsible. If you let us know, we will send them back to do it. All Veolia staff going through training - about putting bins back, clearing up mess and debris around the bins.

Stephen Tate:  We will look into the question of food bin cleaning and come back to you.


  • Service was fit for purpose before the change and now is not.  Used to have emptying of waste bins on Tuesdays at a reasonable hour.  Now sometimes on Monday around 6am before the caretaker is on duty.   
  • Rubbish was dumped on Sunday and has not been cleared.  It is worse than before.
  • Sunnybank - load of rubbish been there for weeks.


Barry Lambton:  We have to start somewhere and end somewhere, so start fairly early. 

Fly tipping is an issue in the whole of the borough.  Contractor sometimes has difficulty getting in to collect waste because of fly tipping.  It is difficult to keep on top of it.  Fly tipping should be reported - you can do so through My Account or the contact system.


  • St Mark's Road - we only have a set of big black bins.  No food waste bins.  It's been the same for several years.


Barry Lambton:  We are focusing on recycling, particularly on estates.  We want to encourage recycling.  Please talk to the Housing Team and let them know you are interested.


  •  How is the new system being communicated to others not informed by this forum? 


Barry Lambton: My App, My Account and other communications are being used.  We are being contacted by a vast number of people.


Cllr Joy Prince: This is a huge change.   More analysis is needed.  People go through My App, telephone and email - then turn to their councillors in desperation.  In Waddon, we are finding that rather than missed bins rarely, it tends to be more concentrated.  If the incidences are mapped you may find they are concentrated in specific roads.  The underlying reason needs to be sorted.


Barry Lambton:  We do analyse the data and it does seem to be same properties repeatedly.  We log it and drivers have to clear it.  We meet regularly with the contractors.


Cllr Oliver Lewis: It is important to remember that the changes have been forced on Croydon from central government.  Invariably there will be a number of teething problem whilst things are improving.  Are the penalties for the contractor if fail to meet performance being enforced?


Barry Lambton:  There are penalties.  For missed bins - the penalty is based on the number.  At the end of the year, the penalty is calculated.


Bob Richardson (Head of Planned Maintenance & Improvement) gave an update on progress:

  • General building - number of TLP members involved in contract.  Virtually at the end of that road:
    • Tomorrow - consultation letters going out to leaseholders, naming contractor in first place
    • Sending letters to all bidders to let them know which ones successful or not
    • 10-day period - standstill period - wait to see if any challenge, request for further information etc by any of bidders
    • Will let residents involved (5) know outcome tomorrow
    • Thank you to those for evaluation
  • Lifts:
    • Published pre-qualification survey on 16 September
    • Issued preliminary stage of leaseholder consultation - to let it be known we are planning to go into a new contract
    • Bidders' day briefing 15 October - potential bidders come to open day here to ask officers questions - also invited residents' reps
    • Working with focus group of residents to capture what people would like to see in improvements in the service
    • Contract to cover council housing lifts and all other lifts in council portfolio (libraries, town hall etc)
    • Residents to attend training session on how to participate in evaluation - help to shortlist bidders and evaluate quality at invitation to tender stage
  • Electrical and windows:
    • One contractor or more than one?  Concluded discussions and going to have one contractor for electrical and another one for window contract
    • Both pieces of work slightly delayed - demands of general building bays and lift contracts pushed back time
    • Important to get it right as these are long contracts
    • Looking to select 5 residents to help evaluation
    • Want to include other things important to Croydon - longevity, quality, social value
  • Mechanical - heating:
    • Decided to stay with current contractor - another 5 years to run
    • High level of satisfaction
    • Remarkably cheap


The following issues were raised:

  • How will non-HRA lifts be funded?


Bob Richardson:  The contract will cover all housing lifts, plus all other council owned lifts in public buildings - about 45.  By putting them together, we will get a better price.  Funding will be from separate pots: HRA money for housing lifts; General fund will pay for other lifts.  We do charge leaseholders a contribution for maintenance in blocks where there are lifts.


  • In Shrublands the contractors did a very poor job.  They were meant to paint rails, buildings, clean windows etc.  They were called back on several occasions.  They splashed paint over the railings so they were not properly covered.  Walls only had one coat but it should have been two.  They were supposed to wash the doors but did not.  Some windows were not done.  The Council should get a refund for such a poor job.  Who should be held to account?


Bob Richardson: The Council is responsible for the work done by contractors.  I will get someone to look into this.  We usually get good reports and high resident satisfaction.  If they come back more than once, then the Council should have been getting involved.  I will send an officer to meet with you and look at the work.


  • Tenants should not be speaking with contractors - complaints should come through the Council.
  • We need to monitor contracts.  Some are not being correctly monitored.
  • Phoned Council and a surveyor was supposed to come but never did.  The work is shoddy - water leaking through stairwells.


Bob Richardson:  We are concerned but do not have resources to deploy in all cases.  Regarding the water leak, I was under the impression that the issue had been resolved.


Cllr Oliver Lewis: My experience has been similar in some cases.  We must hold contractors to account for the work they do.  A number of residents have been let down by contractors and the Council's reputation is at stake.


Rob Brown (Head of....) explained how new processes will analyse issues and monitor performance better:

  • Council looking at all aspects of contract management
  • Who goes out and responds.....who takes day to day to identify trends in problems
  • Focusing on strategic contract management to start - trend analysis, high level contract management to ensure Council getting value
  • Sometimes resolve problem by increasing amount of contract management monitoring, not always the answer
  • Found - can resource better strategic management
  • Got to look at where we use judgment - make sure contractors penalised for poor performance but also look at root causes - work together to make contract better
  • Systems and processes change - why stick to rigid 10year contract when could change?
  • Lot of new information on how much spent on specific areas
  • Plan on how to look at high level aspect
  • Identified range of contracts where different levels of spend, success - learn across areas
  • Work with contractors - often contracts not mutually beneficial - make sure not punishing contractors
  • Build good processes
  • Social value very important - how does contractor give added value by employing local people etc
  • More transparent process to contract management - available to public to view
  • What will residents see?
    • Performance of contractor should be better - would expect to see difference in a year
    • Want contractors to be more innovative and creative
    • Expect more consistency
    • Expect better customer experience
  • Find efficiencies in processes
  • Will take back some of issues raised at this meeting to look at as case studies


The following issues were raised:

  • Reality check - nobody is making contractors accountable for not carrying out the contract. Where are accountability, value for money and penalties?
  • Quality control - random inspections needed.


Rob Brown: There is a range of contractors - some perceived to be better than others. Quite often, whilst we hold contractors to account on a day to day basis, it does not deal with the systemic cause. ~We are trying to address systemic issues. Why is there a perception that x contractor is not delivering on x service? Issues which keep occurring are not one-offs. We need to be more intelligent in responding to issues in the longer term.

Random inspections could be done but it is a very expensive technique. We need to have it but as part of a bigger process. Limited resources so need to be part of overall picture.

  • In terms of understanding where issues are, will you be doing customer mapping? Understanding different types of service user?


Rob Brown: We look at what is the internal process - how is the resident engaging with the process? Next stage of process will be going through a phased approach.  We will look at it from point of view of as many people as possible.

  • Is there one specially qualified contract team or are there different managers for each contractor?


Rob Brown: Attempting to get best of both worlds. Not changing day to day monitoring management. At top level, we will have experts capable of negotiating with top level - a commercial contract management hub.

  • Does Croydon employ any clerks of works?  Is it not the duty of a project manager to inspect buildings?


Bob Rochardson: We use contract administrators on housing works. Major maintenance works may have a surveyor.


Rob Brown: At the moment we have administrators who ensure contractor does what they are supposed to do. We will look at contract monitoring and will review - is the way we are doing it the best way?

  •  Will you look into what are the realities on the ground?


Rob Brown: We will take all issues on board. It is interesting to hear of residents' experiences but we have to look at cost. We will certainly consider them.

  •  Responsive repairs - quality meant to be 60% and price 40%.  We expect a reasonable quality and that is lacking. It needs monitoring.


Rob Brown: It varies but that is an average. We need to have high expectations. If you are seeing regular issues around quality, it is the job of someone at a higher level than day to day to speak to the contractor at a higher level and hold them to account.


Elaine Wadsworth (Head of Housing Strategy & Commissioning) explained about rent reductions:

  • Significant changes are happening to housing service
  • Legal requirement for all social landlords to reduce rents by 1%
  • Government's objectives - to reduce welfare benefit bill and promote home ownership
  • Big impact on Council - income reduced
  • Long term impact
  • Plan over 30 years
  • Current spending plans - will see deficit of £480m over 30 years - so have to plan to cover this
  • 2017-18 - need to reduce annual expenditure by £9.4m
  • Number of options:
    • Paying back the debt taken over from HRA - refinance
    • Estate regeneration programme - introduce from 2019 onwards
    • Cuts to community services
    • Give more responsibility to tenants to do their own repairs
    • Planned maintenance - change standard or change cycle (do less often)
    • Service charge needs to reflect the costs
  • Tenants earning over £40,000 will be charged market rent
  • How best involve tenants - what are most important services?


The following issues were raised:

  • Axis are not doing jobs properly - save them coming out several times.
  • Cut rent by 1% and give people opportunity to buy but how will you make the money back once people buy property?
  • Like idea of giving people more responsibility for own repairs - save council money.


Elaine Wadsworth:  We are legally required to reduce rent by 1%.  It is also a legal requirement that tenants have the right to buy their own homes.  Service charges - need to make sure they reflect the cost of services.


Cllr Alison Butler:  There is also the right to buy housing association properties. There are various changes in planning laws limiting councils' ability to force developers to supply affordable housing.


Chris Stock:  Some very difficult decisions have to be made by officers and councillors.  Residents should be involved in saying what their priorities are.  We can discuss it at Resident Involvement group.  Need to get wider involvement. 


Yaw Boateng (Scrutiny Panel) gave an update:

  • Next project will be looking at external communication
  • Reviewing:
    • Open House
    • Website
    • Other various means of communication to residents
  • Looking to panel members and other residents to help with mystery shopping, interviews and focus groups

The attached report was for information only.


London Tenants' Federation - Michael Hewlett

  • AGM 29 Sep - elected new board of directors (including Michael)
  • Concentrating on questioning residents on development at Old Oak Common
  • Getting funding to look at Newham and Hackney Councils
  • Worried about impact of governement changes to social housing
  • Working on manifesto to give to new Mayor of London regarding housing


ARCH - Michael Hewlett

  • Annual Conference 21 Sep at Fairfield Halls
  • Over 121 delegates and speakers attended, representing 30 boroughs
  • Mayor of Croydon, Cllr Patricia Hay-Justice welcomed everyone to the conference
  • 3 workshops
  • Each year conference presents awards:
    • Tenant of the Year - Richard McCrae (??)
    • Council doing most to encourange & support tenant empowerment - LB Croydon


CVSA - Guy Pile-Grey

  • Huge amount of work about social funding coming into Croydon
  • Focus on young people - back into training, education etc
  • Expect to hear something in new year


Croydon Congress - Marilyn Smithies

  • The scheduled meeting on 21 October of the Stronger Communities Partnership has been cancelled
  • Next meeting will be on 10 December
  • Next Croydon Congress meeting on 26 November - will focus on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

Several people and councillors stressed the importance of informing people in Croydon about CSE.  Marilyn Smithies will report back at the next meeting.


All Ages Inter-generational Update - Sian Foley was on leave.


Croydon have been short listed for an award at the Scrutiny Panel Awards ceremony on Thursday 22 October 2015.


Future meetings are all in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Croydon at 6.30pm:

  • Wednesday 3 February 2016
  • Tuesday 26 April 2016
The meeting ended at 9:05pm