Ticking all the wrong boxes

Dinosaur – surely Dave Barnes (“Municipal dinosaur”, Viewpoints, Gazette, October 20) was referring to HFI? Oversized, over financed and over bearing!

In replying I would like to take this opportunity to clarify assertions regarding the tick-box culture, which so obviously exists as a necessary requirement of Homes for Islington’s (HFI) continued existence.

As current chairman of both the Federation of Islington Tenants’ Associations (FITA) and the Islington Leaseholders’ Association (ILA), former chairman of the Upper Street Area Housing Panel, and current vice-chairman of Lyon Street Area Housing Panel, I have been in a unique position to observe what HfI considers to be tenant involvement and consultation. Unfortunately, over the last four years all I have observed is simply post action information, thinly disguised as so called “tenant consultation”.

Currently, HfI is a one share, arm’s length company (ALMO), owned solely by us, the residents of the London Borough of Islington – so it should be listening to what we, their employers, require of them.

Notably, HFI’s last inspection by the audit commission only rated it as a two-star ALMO which, after a year of appeals, was finally raised to three stars – for which residents of course paid for – again!

However, once you understand that the star rating system is basically a box-ticking exercise in itself, it’s easy to see beyond the “smoke and mirrors”.

Unfortunately, from what I have personally observed, Homes for Islington appears to be spending a great deal of our money on simply promoting its own interests instead of improving the services for which we are charged so outrageously.

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If HfI spent less of residents’ money initiating worthless surveys and focus groups on all and sundry and instead spent the money on actually doing the work it was originally contracted to do properly, perhaps then, and only then, would they deserve some small degree of praise. – Dr B.S.Potter, chairman, FITA/ILA, vice-chairman, Lyon Street (AHP), via e-mail.