Town hall plan to bring Islington repairs in-house ‘not what it seems’ says housing expert

Brian Potter

Brian Potter - Credit: Archant

A town hall plan to tear up a £150million contract to repair council homes and bring the work back in-house has been slammed by a housing expert for not being what it seems.

In June the Gazette broke the news Islington Council was set to use a break clause in their 10 year contract with Kier maintain the borough’s 30,000 council properties – even though it could cost up to £30million more.

Many people were happy with the decision to bring services back under direct council control – but letters sent out to residents reveal the process will take three years, during which time the council will sub-contract jobs out to a variety of sources.

Brian Potter, chairman of Islington Leaseholders Association, said: “We want everything in-house, but this looks as though the council will just have a skeleton staff for repairs and massive amounts of out-sourcing and sub-contracting.

“The three years will go out of the window, because the council will say they haven’t enough money and it will go on and on.

“They are paying lip service to bringing things back in-house but in fact it’s nothing of the sort.

“This will be more expensive for everyone and will come out of council tax. It looked good on the surface, but when you dig deeper you find all these problems.”

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Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said: “We’re bringing repairs back under direct council control, to make sure we can deliver an excellent service for tenants and leaseholders.

“We will inherit a great workforce, as we’re planning to expand the in-house workforce from day one. As with any big repair service will also use contractors to meet peaks of demand, and for specialist services such as asbestos removal.

“We will give smaller local firms the best possible opportunity to bid for these contracts, and we will review them regularly to see whether an increasing amount of the work can be done in-house.”

The contract with Kier ends on July 31 2014.