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Hometalk Winter 2012

The magazine for Cannock Chase Council tenants Caxton Court resident Freda Atkinson handed over a special New Year gift on behalf of all the Council’s sheltered schemes to Sgt Sandy Robertson of the RAF’s Tactical Supply Wing. Turn to Page 3 for the full story!

a £50 gift voucher

-see P8


On the

������� 2011 HEALTH CHECK 2012 Your guide to the performance of

move! ~ ~ ~ ~

The Housing Department’s Estate Management Team has had a bit of a reshuffle with some members of the team covering different areas. The changes took effect at the beginning of November and here is the new line up: Tom Mountford has not changed area and still covers Neighbourhood Area 1 which includes Cannock, West Chadsmoor and Central Chadsmoor. Carolyn Storer and Moira Hastelow now cover Neighbourhood Area 2 which includes Hednesford and East Chadsmoor. Edenlei Hipkiss now covers Neighbourhood Area 3 which includes Rugeley and the Rural Areas. Nothing has changed in the services provided and as always you can contact a member of the Estate Management Team on 01543 462621 with any queries, concerns, for advice or assistance on housing matters.

Everyone a winner: Gas Servicing Draw: September: Mrs J Humphries, Rugeley; Mr A Evans, Chadsmoor. October: Mrs E Horne, Chadsmoor; Mr N Booth, Norton Canes. November: Mrs C Jones, Hednesford; Mr D Arnold, Chadsmoor. Estate Walk Draw: Mrs I Robertson, Rumer Hill. Repairs Satisfaction Draw: September: Mrs M Kachur, Rugeley. October: Ms C Davis, Cannock. November: Mr G Williams, Hednesford. Wordsearch Winner: Mrs J Stanley, Cannock.

the Council’s Housing Service




% of repairs appointments made & kept

% of repairs done as emergency jobs





March 2011





September 2011

March 2011


In the next edition we will be featuring here YOUR views on the Housing Service, on Hometalk magazine and any other matter of interest to tenants. Have your say by: text 07814 758558 ;

call: 01543 464757; or e-mail: serviceimprovements@




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NB: Longer bars = Better performance

Please see page 3 about how much missed appointments cost the Council - and its effect on tenants.



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Only ,1,572 jobs were done as an emergency from April – Sept this year - a big improvement!

= Target missed


A LLOCATIONS % of customers satisfied with the Council's allocations service ���


currently have


2,451 people


registered with

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Did you know: we

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NB: Shorter bars = Better performance

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= Target met

September 2011



March 2011 Target September 2011

NB: Longer bars = Better performance

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Rent money owed to the Council

Longer bars = Better performance

Don’t forget - the Council has a 24-hour Nuisance Hotline to report incidents of Antisocial behaviour. The number is:

01543 462621

March 2011




September 2011


R ENTS Are you struggling to pay your rent? See page 6 for

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NB: Shorter bars = Better performance

help and advice.

COMPLIMENTS, COMMENTS & (FORMAL) COMPLAINTS Contacts by tenants April to September 2011 ����������� ������ ���������� ��������


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Justified complaints Unjustified complaints


Total complaints


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 Contacts with the Housing Department are logged according to type. This information is now being provided to tenants.

Hed nesfor d is b ack in business !


Pictured with Customer Services Assistant Ann Pugh at the Hednesford office are Cllrs John Burnett, Frank Allen and Gordon Ball.

A range of services for tenants is once again available at the Council’s area office in Hednesford. Located in the town’s library in Market Street, it’s open for all general enquiries from 9am - 5pm every day (Closed for lunch 1 - 2pm). If you need to report a repair, there is a direct-line phone at the Reception Desk. Staff there will also be able to handle enquiries about Housing, Council Tax and

benefits. With a pre-booked appointment you can have an interview to make a claim for benefit or to discuss a change in your circumstances. A Guide to Housing Benefits is available at Reception. Although cash payments at area offices were phased out some time ago, payments by cheque can still be left at the Hednesford office.

Backing for our boys out there… Elderly residents of the Council’s sheltered schemes are backing our troops out there in Afghanistan. To show their support, all five sheltered schemes collected five boxes of toiletries and other goodies which were flown out to the Royal Air Force personnel from MoD Stafford, in time for Christmas & New Year. And to show their thanks for the gesture, airmen and airwomen from the base spent the afternoon at Caxton Court in Cannock and presented a special TSW/RAF plaque.

We’ll pay for Bright Ideas! ���


f you’ve got a Bright Idea, to benefit the Housing Service, contact the Service Improvement Team. Call: 01543 464757 Call / text 07 814 758558.

One of the Caxton Court residents, 85 year old Freda Atkinson formally handed over the gifts to Sgt Sandy Robertson from the Tactical Supply Wing. She said: “It is so important to support our boys - and girls - who are serving in Afghanistan. Two of my sons served in the Army and my grandson will be going out to Afghanistan soon. “They do such a fantastic job and we’ve all been very proud to help them. It was fantastic to see them here.” Sgt Robertson said: “Personnel from Stafford’s Tactical Supply Wing are in Afghanistan and the toiletries will be most welcome. It is hard getting toiletries out there, they can be really expensive, so we’re very grateful for this big donation. “We’re all absolutely delighted that the residents have taken the time to recognise what we do and it was great to come to Caxton Court and thank them personally.”

Minor works

enants and residents have come up with some great ideas for improvements to their neighbourhoods under the Minor Works scheme.


They include: ✔ Replacement of worn and broken signage in Hannaford Way & Wessex Drive ✔ New community notice board for residents in Johnson Road ✔ New security gates and signage for Holyoake Place, Rugeley The Housing Department’s Estate Management Team welcomes suggestions for projects and improvements that provide long term benefits for our communities. Things you could consider are: ● Improving Security by adding gating, lighting, locks and alley closures ● Environmental projects including work on trees, graffiti removal, fencing and land clearance For more information about the Minor Works scheme, or to submit a suggestion, call Lisa Harvey on 01543 464380 or email: The closing date for all minor works suggestions is 2nd February 2012.

Missed appointments cost M ney - Your m ney! Tenants failing to keep appointments made for them by Housing and Repairs staff are costing Cannock Chase tenants dearly. Around one in every 20 fixed-time visits ends up a fruitless errand because no-one is in! It adds up to an estimated £16,000 a year wasted. That money comes from your Housing Budget which could be spent on things like repairs to tenants’ homes. “The number of missed appointments is now averaging 67 a month,” said Catherine Owen, Housing Maintenance Manager. “We

introduced appointments to improve the service offered to tenants when requesting a repair or inspection to their home. We have introduced a text messaging reminder service, sent out one working day before, to help people remember their appointment. “We know there are times when appointments can’t be kept. But please - let us know beforehand, even if it is on the same day! It only takes a phone call. We can then re-arrange the appointment for a more suitable date, avoid a wasted journey and try to offer the appointment to someone else,” said Catherine.

It’s NEVER ok… to abuse your partner


new campaign aimed at curbing domestic violence is being backed by Cannock Chase Council.

“It’s never OK” is a drive to address alcohol-related violence, with the aim of preventing such incidents and encouraging victims to report abuse. The Council has teamed up with Staffordshire

Police and Staffordshire Women’s Aid to spearhead the campaign, which will challenge the behaviour of the perpetrators. Living with domestic abuse can make victims feel isolated, but they are NOT out on their own. Staffordshire Women’s Aid supports women and children living with, escaping, or recovering from domestic violence and/or abuse.

If you are a female victim of domestic violence call Staffordshire Women’s Aid on 0870 2700 123. Domestic violence is not only perpetrated by men on women. If you are a male victim of domestic violence call Arch on 01782 683 702. If YOU are concerned about YOUR behaviour towards your partner, call Respect on 0808 802 4040.

New kitche


A step by step guide to a majo

1. GOOD NEWS FROM THE COUNCIL! Tenant Lisa Garry from Cannock got a letter from the Council saying her home had been identified for a replacement kitchen. The Council’s contractors, Lovells, then wrote to her to set a date for a design survey and, if needed, a check for asbestos around the whole house.



8. TEAMWOR All these peop were involved in replacing Lisa’s kitchen. They include members of Lovells’ team and the Council’s Housing Property Services Team

4. ALMOST RE Lovells make c before that the timescales and 2. IT’S NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS! Design is to the Council’s criteria, around existing ‘white goods’ (fridge, cooker etc) and drainage positions. The design will accommodate tenants’ preferences wherever possible. Some things like non-structural pantries may have to be removed and electric and gas meters relocated to make the design work.

3. TAKE YOUR PICK. There is a range of colours and fittings for tenants to choose from. There’s usually some combination to suit everyone’s tastes and the units and fittings can then be ordered.


ens for old!

or home improvement

RK. ple d




More than 300 Cannock Chase tenants can expect to have a new kitchen fitted this year. The Council has set aside £1 . 4 million in the annual budget, which runs from April 2011 to April 2012, to pay for the work.

EADY TO GO! contact to agree a start date and one week ere is a visit to the tenant’s home to discuss d preparation, including emptying the kitchen.


7. ALL DONE! Lisa was extremely happy with her new kitchen and added some tiling of her own. Around half undergo an inspection after the job is done to ensure quality is maintained and the Council’s criteria is met. (If you are happy with your existing kitchen - don’t worry, you don’t have to have a new kitchen.



We ‘ re upwardly mobile

Residents at the Grace Moore Court sheltered scheme in Chadsmoor are going up in the world - in a brand new lift installed by the Council.

wonderful facilities,” said Cllr Adamson. “The lift itself had lasted 27 years, so had proved great value for money, but unfortunately it needed updating to make it easier for residents to get around within the building.”

The lift, which replaces the one fitted when the residence first opened 27 years ago, is the latest in a line of improvements at Grace Moore Court that include new hair dressing and chiropody studios and refurbishments of the kitchens and communal bathrooms. Appropriately enough, Council leader Councillor George Adamson was invited to formally push the “going up” button in the lift - 27 years after he laid the foundation stone there when he was Chair of Housing! He was joined by Grace Moore Court’s longest serving resident John Williams, who has lived at the scheme for 18 years, and the newest Sheila Jones who moved in four weeks ago. “Grace Moore Court is one of our most popular Pictured with Cllr Adamson at the supported housing schemes official opening of the new lift are and already has some John Williams and Sheila Jones

Cannock Chase’s Not a lot of people know that the Council has to check for bats in tenants’ homes before carrying out any major works, especially in lofts.


annock Chase Council is setting the pace when it comes to dealing with benefit claims. By slashing the average processing time for Housing and Council Tax claims, Cannock Chase has become the fastest council in Staffordshire and jumped into the top ten authorities nationwide. It means that tenants and residents get the benefits they need in super-quick time - and average of just ten days for new claimants and eight days for people reporting a change in their circumstances. New claims on average take the Council just 10 days to process, whilst changes to circumstances are dealt with in 8 days thanks to a rethinking of how the service operates. Under the new system, clients come for an interview with an adviser

Chase set the pace who helps them to complete their paperwork, thus cutting back office work. It was the brainchild of members of staff themselves, cutting processing times from 27 days in 2009/10 to eight days now and making Cannock Chase the SEVENTH quickest authority in England and Wales. Cllr Frank Allen, Housing Portfolio Leader, said: “By changing the way claims are processed, Council officers have been able to cut waiting times drastically and provide a much better service to the public.”

New rules down the drain Since Hometalk’s report in our last edition on Severn Trent’s new responsibilities for sewers and drains, the situation for Council tenants has changed yet again! The Council’s Housing Repairs department was going to continue clearing ALL blocked drains to help prevent any confusion that the changes of ownership may have caused.

and even jail, can be severe. Cannock Chase Council pays a bat expert (the Batman!) to survey properties before work starts. If a bat roost is found, special It is now illegal to disturb bat measures have to be taken to roosts and the punishments, fines avoid disturbing them. This means making sure bats have clear access to the site at all times. ��� ��� � ������� ����� roosting ��� ��� � ������� ����� Sometimes special ������� ������ ���������� ������� ������ ���������� bricks are fitted with holes in to enable �� ��� ���� ����� �� ��� ���� ����� the bats to still access their roost. Unfortunately, this arrangement is not now available to the Council and Details of these tenants will have to follow these steps if a drain is blocked: ‘special measures’ �� �� are recorded BEFORE reporting a blocked drain, try to find out if it is just your property ����� ����� on the Council’s affected or both yours and your neighbours’. property database ������ If it only affects your private drain call 01543 462621 to report the ������ so the Council problem, as per our previous report. is aware for any If you AND your neighbours are affected by the blocked drain, you should future roofing � �� ��� ����call ��� Severn ������� ����� ���� on 0800 783 4444. Trent ������ Water���� directly � �� ��� ���� ��� ������� ����� ������ ���� ���� ������� ���� ���� ������� ������� ���� ���� ������� works. Tenants The diagram above shows in simple terms, the new responsibilities for � ��� ������� ����� ���� ��� ������� ���� ��� ������ � ��� ������� ����� ���� ��� ������� ���� ��� ������ are informed so ��� ������� drains.���� �� ��� ���� ���� ��� ������ � ����� � ����� ��� ������� ���� �� ��� ���� ���� ��� ������ they can help���� raise ������� �������� ���� ������� �������� Severn Trent Water is responsible for blockages/repairs in any private the alert if any �� ��� ���� or ��public ���� sewer ��� and landlords and home owners are responsible for their �� ��� ���� �� ���� ��� roofing repairs are private drains. Cannock Chase Council is the landlord for Council tenants ������these ����jobs. ������ ���� ���� ������ ������ ���� ������ requested. ���� ���� and������ will undertake

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a d n y L ’ n a m o W e s o e ‘Lo m o h e r a c s e h c n u la


V and film celebrity Lynda Bellingham cut the tape on a new £10 million extra care home for the elderly in Cannock.

Lynda, one of the stars of “Calendar Girls” and a panellist on tv’s “Loose Women”, was helping to celebrate the opening of Vine Court, an 83-apartment extra care scheme, the first of its kind in Staffordshire. Built on the site of a former pub, the scheme offers communal facilities, such as a restaurant, hair salon, lounge, sensory garden and hobby room. It also has specialist accommodation providing care for people with dementia. Vine Court is managed by Care Plus, which manages the scheme and provides care and support. Joining Lynda for the opening, in October, were Cllrs George Adamson and Frank Allen, Leader and Housing Portfolio Leader of Cannock Chase Council respectively, together with representatives from the County Council, South Staffordshire District Council, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and Housing Plus, of which Care Plus is a part. Interested parties can contact Vine Court direct on 01543 465700

Another one bites the dust In the wake of two police drugs raids in Heath Hayes, the Housing Department promptly served Possession Notice warnings on both tenants involved. The notices inform the tenants that the Council is taking legal proceedings to evict them. Both tenants did not wait for the law to take effect by handing in the keys and surrendering rights of their tenancy. Others suspected of breaching the Tenancy Agreement with illegal or anti-social activities should be warned as suspect tenancies are monitored using overt and covert surveillance measures. “Members of staff from the Housing Estate Management Team work closely with the police on these matters,” said Belinda Wildey, Estate Management Team Leader. “We are currently working with the police on intelligence concerning a number of our tenants throughout the Cannock Chase district.

Tenants accepting the offer of a Council home for the first time or transferring to another property have been reminded about having their rent accounts in order. New tenants MUST bring their first rent payment when they sign up for the property. It can be either the first weekly or monthly amount, payable by cheque, postal order or bank card, but NOT cash. The rent account of existing tenants transferring to another property must be cleared before it can take place. If paying by Direct Debit, an additional amount may be required before the tenancy agreement is signed. Contact your rent officer on 01543 462621 to check your situation. Remember - all rents are due on a Monday in advance, although you can pay monthly in advance by arrangement with the Rents Section.

When downsizing makes sense


hen the kids have flown the nest, or you are left on your own in a big house or old age makes it harder to maintain your home and garden, would you consider downsizing to a smaller Council property?

Cannock Chase Council is always seeking to make best use of its housing stock, by allocating homes according to people’s needs. But you can’t force people to leave properties they’ve probably lived in for many years just for reasons of expediency and the Housing Department would never dream of it. However, you could make downsizing an attractive proposition - thing is: what sort of incentives would encourage tenants to consider a move? The Council, currently reviewing its Transfer Incentive Scheme, wants tenants’ views on what incentives would encourage them to downsize. Tenants who send back the simple 1,2,3 questionnaire below go in to a draw for a £25 gift voucher. “The reason we want to encourage tenants who are under-occupying family sized accommodation or adapted properties to move to smaller accommodation is to release high demand accommodation for families in need on the waiting list,” said Nigel Haywood, Tenancy Services Manager. Some reasons to consider downsizing:  Many under occupiers struggle to maintain and clean a large property  Larger properties cost more to heat.  Many under occupiers end up effectively living in only 2 or 3 rooms of their property.  Under-occupiers can feel isolated  Tenants living alone in a large property, may have concerns about security.

5 a £2 gift her c u o v

The Council would like tenants to look at the list below and rank in order 1, 2, 3 etc. the top incentives which could possibly encourage you to move. Or may be there is something else the Council could do to assist downsizers. We welcome your ideas:

The Council’s crackdown on antisocial behaviour is continuing to hit the troublemakers hard.


 A lump sum cash payment of £1000.  Help and support in moving, including arranging removals, housing benefit claims, informing change of address, and change over of utilities.

 Help from a Handyperson service to do odd-jobs associated with moving eg putting up curtains, shelves, pictures etc.

 Tidying gardens of a new property and becoming eligible for the priority grass cutting scheme, if required.

 Arrange and pay for tenant’s contents insurance for 5 years.  Pay for the installation of a Community Alarm system and one year service costs.  A mixture of support and cash payment up to the total value of £1000. The cost of support would be deducted from the cash payment.

 Other incentive - please give details_________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ Cut out and return the slip and you will go in to the draw for a £25 gift voucher (Use it for BOTH the questionnaire AND the Wordsearch on the back page.

Tenants who suspect their electricity meter box may have a fault or is damaged in any way, are urged to report it to the Council as soon as possible - phone 01543 456861. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.

CHECK THOSE ALARMS! Tenants & all other clients using Cannock Chase Council’s alarm system are reminded to carry out their monthly check: ONCE A MONTH pull the cord to alert the call centre. This will test the alarm is working and reassure operators that you are all right.

CContact entre

Emergency Repairs…

All areas outside office hours: Tel: 01543 456816

Repairs Reporting…

All repairs: Tel: 01543 462621 or Online: - ‘Report it’

Housing Enquiries… General enquiries: Tel: 01543 462621

Nuisance Hotline… NUISANCE HOTLINE 01543 462621 now operator answered 24/7

Hometalk is available in LARGE Benefits Enquiries… PRINT and ON TAPE. Contact Housing and Council Tax Benefits enquiries: 01543 464292 the Service Improvement Team Rent Paymen ts… Pay by Phone: 0845 2340080 on 01543 462621. Online: - ‘Pay it’

A £50 gift voucher

exclusively for tenants! Find these items in the WORDSEARCH grid: Shoulder












Oesophagus Tiebreaker: Take a deep breath to find these!

_ _ _ _ _ Send entries to: Hometalk Wordsearch The Civic Centre Beecroft Road Cannock

(or hand it in at your local

G O R E D L U O H S L S H B E L B O W U T S T H R O A T F G R R O O W A H B M A A E N B M I I U A H E G G L G A N N M P H N U H N R C R B O A I E K E P O H A S R F L T S L G S P E T E S H L U N G S O Your name ................................................. Your address ............................................ ................................ Post Code ............... Tel. ............................ I am aged over 16

Council Office). NB Closing date is: Friday 9th March. First correct entry drawn (Employees of the Council and their families not eligible to enter) out wins the prize. Housing Services may wish to contact you concerning housing matters. If you do not wish to be contacted, tick this box Published by: CANNOCK CHASE COUNCIL HOUSING DIVISION

Council Online…

Cannock Chase Council website:

Opening Hours…

The Council’s Housing Office at the Bungalow in Beecroft Road, Cannock, is open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. The Local Council Office in Anson Street, Rugeley is open the same times EXCEPT Wednesdays, when it is 9am to 1pm. The One-stop Shop at the Library in Market Street, Hednesford is now open for general inquiries 9am - 5pm (closed 1pm - 2pm). Appointments can also be made.

Writing to us… Cannock Chase Council, Civic Centre, P O Box 28, Beecroft Road, Cannock Staffs. WS11 1BG.

Diary Dates…

Anti Social Behaviour Focus Group – 9 February Minor Works Focus Group – 23 February. Closing date for Minor Works Application is: 2 February 2012..

Editorial Consultants: MID STAFFS NEWS AGENCY 01785 823489

Printed by: GEORGE ST. PRESS LTD. STAFFORD. 01785 258226


Hometalk - Winter 2012  

Cannock Chase Council's magazine for Council Tenants

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