Page 1

News and Views Summer 2013:Layout 1 12/06/2013 16:33 Page 1

Housing

Summer 2013

News and Views

'Do-it-ourselves’ improvements set to continue Councillors have now agreed exciting plans to continue home improvements both inside and outside properties. Since moving to self-financing, the housing service has had more money to invest in your homes – resulting in a huge increase in the number of improvements carried out over 2012/13 compared to the previous year:  Over 450 new kitchens installed (around 200 the year before)  Over 420 new bathrooms installed (around 200 the year before)  Over 600 homes rewired (250 the year before)  Nearly 2000 new front doors fitted (just over 500 the year before)

Susan Newman from Long Marston (pictured right), who had a new kitchen fitted in May, said: “It doesn’t look like the same room, it’s a total transformation. Apollo were fab, they kept me informed and did a really good job” We’ll make sure this big increase in refurbishments now continues. There will also be more money to improve communal areas on housing estates and the external appearance of blocks of flats. Many are looking tired, so an extra £750,000 each year for three years (from 2013/14 to 2016/17) will be spent upgrading their appearance. We'll be asking you what improvements you would like to see.

Councillor Margaret Griffiths, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “Being able to ‘do-it-ourselves’ and carry out all these improvements to homes is just what our housing service set out to achieve when we decided to move to self-financing. “We've been listening to tenants and leaseholders to understand what your priorities are – and thinking about the wider community. Transforming the appearance of estates makes the area more attractive for everyone.”

Leaseholders get involved We’d like to say a big thank you to all our leaseholders who sent us opinions on producing a new Leaseholders’ Handbook. Nearly one in five of you responded and many said you’d like to get involved and have a say in how things are run. 40 leaseholders are now helping us to review the handbook. We’re making great progress towards creating a useful manual which gives you exactly the information you need. See page 2 for more details. Freda Sattler, a leaseholder involved in the review, said: “Everyone has put in time and thought very successfully. It just shows what can be achieved if people pull together.”

You can call leasehold officers Alison Chatterjee and Julie Moseley on 01442 228000 or email them at servicecharges@dacorum.gov.uk


News and Views Summer 2013:Layout 1 12/06/2013 16:33 Page 2

02 | News and views News and Views

Summer 2013

Contents News

pages 2-3

Tenant and Leaseholder Day

page 4

Help and advice

www.dacorum.gov.uk

Updating the Leaseholders’ Handbook

page 5

We’re updating the Leaseholders’ Handbook and feedback from a recent leaseholder survey (see page 1) showed that:

Tenant and Leaseholder Committee (TLC)

page 6

 nearly nine out of ten want to keep the handbook in its current A5 size;

Involving you

page 7

Your tenancy

page 8

Supported housing

page 9

Repairs and maintenance

pages 10-11

News in brief

page 12

Do you have an idea for a story? Call Luisa Clarke on 014421 228000.

Receiving loud and clear? Are we getting our messages across effectively? Could you help us to improve by joining our new editorial group?

???

We know from the Survey of Tenants and Residents (STAR) that many of you prefer to receive information in writing. We try to make our newsletters, leaflets and web pages as clear and relevant as possible – but we know there is always room for improvement. We are setting up a new editorial group for tenants and leaseholders which will give you the opportunity to have your say on how we might improve our publications, including News and Views. We appreciate many of you can’t attend regular meetings so the group will mainly feedback online, or on paper if you don’t have internet access. To find out more, please call 01442 228000 and ask for tenant involvement or email suzy.donaldson@dacorum. gov.uk

 nine out of ten would prefer a removable contact sheet listing the different teams you speak to;  four out of five want to remove the section on supported housing;  you want us to include a new section for leaseholders who rent their flats out to private tenants. Brenda Ashby, a leaseholder involved in the handbook review, said “Having been a Dacorum Borough Council leaseholder for several years, I thought it was about

time I got involved. I’ve found the meetings interesting and the discussions very thorough in seeking to provide a comprehensive handbook of information and advice for leaseholders.” Many leaseholders have now also volunteered to get involved with the Tenant and Leaseholder Committee (TLC) and with the Tenant and Leaseholder Scrutiny Group. There’s also been interest in re-forming the Leaseholder Group, and we’ll be getting in touch with people who expressed interest in that soon.

Welcome aboard free canal cruise

We promise you won’t get a sinking feeling if you join us on a canal cruise get-together. Many of you have stepped forward to get involved in helping us improve our housing service. Now there’s a chance for us all to share ideas and meet other involved tenants and leaseholders from local social housing landlords. It’s all hands on deck for two evening cruises on the Grand Union Canal. We especially want to look at a new improved tenants’ handbook. We’ve invited some of you who are

already involved, plus a few from Watford Community Housing Trust, Hightown Praetorian and Churches Housing Association, Thrive Homes and St Albans City and District Council, to join us on board the Sheldrake III (pictured). The cruises are taking place on 3 and 11 July from 6pm till 9pm and include a buffet meal. There may be spaces left, so if you would like to get involved with us and meet other interested local residents please call Sue Prowse on 01442 228000.


News and Views Summer 2013:Layout 1 12/06/2013 16:33 Page 3

01442 228000 tenantinvolvement@dacorum.gov.uk

News and views | 03

‘Summer of swapping’ gets you moving We’re running a special event on 17 July to help you understand how to go about swapping your home.

roadshow near Bank Court on Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, from 9am to 5pm. You won't miss our pop-up shop.

You can find more details on our website at www.dacorum.gov.uk/ swapping

Swapping your home with another tenant (either of Dacorum Borough Council, another council or of any housing association) is often the easiest way of moving. You can move to a larger or smaller home or to different parts of the country.

At the roadshow we will:

If you want us to advertise your home at the event, please email us your address along with photos of your home to housing@dacorum.gov.uk or by post to: Summer of Swapping, Dacorum Borough Council Housing Service, Civic Centre, Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, HP1 1HH.

Come along to our ‘Summer of swapping’

 advertise homes available to swap;  give you advice on how to swap your home;  show you just how easy the process is;  also advise you about other housing issues, including buying your home.

Turning the clock back We were given a glimpse of Hemel Hempstead in 1951 when our Civic Centre receptionist Jenny Gurney found her grandmother’s old Tenants’ Handbook. She was surprised to see just how much has changed – and how much has stayed the same. The Hemel Hempstead Municipal Tenants’ Handbook offers advice on first aid, cleaning and gardening. Here’s an excerpt from an article called ‘England’s Green and Pleasant Land’: “It is essential that all tenants of Corporation houses should keep their garden tidy and properly cultivated, and to remember that a good housing estate is judged by the appearance of the gardens as well as the architecture of the buildings.” Tenants were also advised to polish front doors regularly, to hang white net curtains in windows and to use washing water to clean drains. Maintaining the appearance of the new housing estates was clearly a concern. But so, too, was building a new community. At the time the handbook was published, many people were moving to Hemel Hempstead from London as a result of the post-war housing shortage. “Some of my neighbours had moved away from their families to come here,” Jenny remembers. “They told me that without

being friends with each other and having a community centre to go to, they would have been devastated.” In the age of direct debits and Payzones, we no longer send a rent collector round to knock on your door once a week. But we still encourage our tenants to get involved in their local community, whether that’s by joining a committee or attending an event. “It’s nostalgic to look back at this handbook, and see how much the Council tried to care for its residents,” Jenny says. Though many things may have changed, that isn’t one of them.

Need large print or audio? Don’t forget that you can read News and Views in large print and listen to it on CD. Tenants in our supported housing schemes will now find large print colour copies in the communal lounges. We have had really positive feedback, with Miss Lyons from Leverstock Green commenting: “I really appreciate it. Being partially sighted, I couldn’t read it before.” If you want to sign up for large print or CD copies of News and Views, call tenant involvement on 01442 228000 or email tenantinvolvement@dacorum.gov.uk


News and Views Summer 2013:Layout 1 12/06/2013 16:33 Page 4

04 | Tenant and Leaseholder Day 2013

www.dacorum.gov.uk

It’s your day, your say Don’t forget to mark the 28 September 2013 in your diary. This year’s Tenant and Leaseholder Day promises to be yet another great event packed full of information as well as the chance to enjoy some family fun. It’s your day and your say: an opportunity to influence how our housing service is run. Come along to the South Hill Centre (Cemetery Hill, Hemel Hempstead) from

10am to 2pm to chat to housing or other council departments about any issues affecting you. You’ll also have a chance to find out more about repairs, moving home and training opportunities. There’s still time to tell us what else you’d like to see on the day. Let us know by calling tenant involvement on 01442 228000 or emailing tenantinvolvement @dacorum.gov.uk

Do you know a housing hero? At last year’s conference, housing staff nominated Colin King from Willow Edge supported scheme for an award to recognise his dedication to his fellow residents. This year we are asking you to nominate someone you feel deserves a Housing Heroes Award. Colin (pictured) was thrilled with his award: “It’s great being able to help those who need help. They are a lovely bunch of people and I enjoy helping out where I can.” Do you know a tenant or a leaseholder who has made a positive difference to your community or to you individually? If so, tell us about them! You can enter them for the following categories:  Tenant of the Year Award: for someone who has made an outstanding contribution to their local community and improved the lives of others.  Good Neighbour Award: for someone who has gone out of their way to get to know the people living around them and offer help and support.  Young Person of the Year: open to anyone under the age of 25 who gives their time to make a positive difference in their community. The closing date for nominations is Friday 26 July 2013. You can only nominate a Dacorum Borough Council tenant or leaseholder. We will publish the shortlist of nominees in the next issue of News and Views and

will invite them to the awards ceremony at the Tenant and Leaseholder Day. All you have to do is complete the nomination form below and return it to: Housing Heroes, FREEPOST, Dacorum Borough Council, Civic Centre, Hemel Hempstead, Herts HP1 1BR. Or you can download a form online at www.dacorum.gov.uk/yourday

%

Housing Heroes Award nomination form Name of the person you are nominating: _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Award category you are entering them for (tick one):

 Tenant of the Year Award  Good Neighbour Award  Young Person of the Year Why are you nominating them? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Your name: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Your address: _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Your phone number: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________


News and Views Summer 2013:Layout 1 12/06/2013 16:33 Page 5

01442 228000 tenantinvolvement@dacorum.gov.uk

Has your home outgrown you?

Help and advice | 05

Help paying water bills Are you an Affinity Water customer? Are you struggling financially to pay your water bill or meet other essential debt repayments? The Affinity Water Trust may be able to help you:

If you’ve been affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ – or are thinking of downsizing anyway – remember we can help.

is nice that a new family can now bring their children up there.”

We’ll cut the hassle and the cost of moving to a smaller home, and give you cashback.

 Arrange and pay for your furniture to be packed and moved.

If you give up three or more bedrooms we give you £2,000; for two bedrooms it’s £1,000; and if you reduce to one bedroom, £500. Judy Keen has just moved to a smaller home in Tring: “I am so glad I moved into my sheltered bungalow. I now have people that will keep an eye on me but not intrude. I now have access to a reliable transport system and my much smaller garden is so much easer to maintain. “The council made all the arrangements for the removal of furniture and even sent someone to pack everything into boxes. The council also provided lovely new carpets and a financial reward. “I moved from a three bedroom house in a village which was lovely for my family, but as I am now a widow on my own, it

We can also:

 Take up and re-lay your carpets in your new home. (For tenants moving into supported housing carpets will already be fitted).  Arrange for your cooker to be disconnected and to be refitted at your new home (if this is not possible we will provide a new cooker for tenants moving into supported housing).  Arrange and pay for your washing machine to be moved.  Pay for your telephone number to be transferred. You can also keep a spare bedroom if you are moving to a smaller home. Many more people are now thinking of moving because of the changes to welfare benefits, so please bear with us. For more information call housing on 01442 228000.

Struggling to pay your rent? More help is at hand, thanks to two members of staff in our income team. Money Support Advisors Mandy Peters (left) and Paula Bowman (right) will help you manage the impact of the welfare reforms and if you’re a new tenant, support you during the first year of your tenancy. They will be offering training and advice and are especially keen to work with anyone who is having difficulties meeting their rent payments. To talk to Mandy or Paula call 01442 228000 and ask for them by name, or call your own housing income officer.

 clear domestic water and sewerage debt; and, in exceptional circumstances:  clear other priority debts, including energy, council tax and rent debts;  buy essential household items. The Trust, which is funded by Affinity Water, aims to help people take control of their finances by reducing the burden of their debts and helping them meet their future bills. To apply for a grant, please contact the Trust directly:  online: www.affinitywatertrust.org.uk  by post: Freepost RSHH-JKZAHAUY, Affinity Water Trust, PO Box 42, Peterborough, PE3 8XH  by email: awt@charisgrants.com  by phone: 01733 421060


News and Views Summer 2013:Layout 1 12/06/2013 16:33 Page 6

06 | Tenant and Leaseholder Committee

TLC update Dear Residents Following the Council’s ‘You are the key’ campaign we have had many tenants and leaseholders getting in touch expressing an interest in getting involved in any way that suits them and we would like more people to come forward. Just get in touch at tenantinvolvement@ dacorum.gov.uk or call 01442 228000 and ask for tenant involvement. Have a chat with the team and find out more. They are a really great team and will help you as much as they can. At the very first housing meeting I went to in 2002, I just sat there and listened and it took me another two meetings before I said my first word. I was so nervous, but now I voice my opinions on all subjects at meetings and can hold my

by Rose Kosmalski, Chair

own if I have to challenge any decisions made by the Council which we don’t agree with. As you know I am now the Chair of the TLC which gives me the opportunity to put items on meeting agendas which have all tenants and leaseholders’ interests as priority and which need remedial action to be taken by the Council. We are there to challenge the decisions that the Council and officers make, and how our rent money is spent. I have come a long way since that first meeting in 2002 and I am very proud and thank all the people who have helped and supported me along the way. Being involved is a very rewarding role and one day it could be you. You are the key, just give the team a call and your involvement could make a great

Meet the TLC: Debbie Barnes My name is Debbie and I want to explain my main reason for becoming involved with the TLC as well as the Housing Maintenance and Environment Committee (HMEC). When I moved into the Dacorum area, I was treated extremely well, especially

www.dacorum.gov.uk

when it came to getting housed. My disability was taken into consideration as well as my need to get out of where I was due to my own personal reasons. Both my housing and rent officers made it clear what I needed to do with regards to rules, utilities and what was expected of me. I now live in a lovely ground floor flat that has a little garden space for me to grow some herbs. It’s a nice place to relax and get some fresh air. When I received News and Views last spring, there was an article about the new up and coming Tenant and Leaseholder Conference that was being held at the Civic Centre. I went along and found it very interesting, particularly the forums by the Council that were about current issues happening for tenants. I was emailed in January of this year about attending a meeting of people who wanted to become involved, so after attending that meeting and filling out the necessary paperwork I then went to my first TLC and first HMEC meeting as an observer. I haven’t looked back and was co-opted onto both committees.

difference in improving the way the Council delivers its services to tenants and leaseholders. Best wishes

Rose

On behalf of the TLC

Contacting the TLC Please remember the TLC represents you, the tenants and resident leaseholders from all over Dacorum. To get in touch, email us tlc@dacorum.gov.uk We promise to respond to all emails. You can also write to us, in confidence, c/o Tenant and Leaseholder Committee, Hemel Hempstead Civic Centre, Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, HP1 1HH. Recently the Council held a ‘Meet the Team’ event (see page 7) where council tenants were invited to meet Tenant Involvement Officers and current committee members like me. The idea of the event was so that tenants could meet their officers and find out what was involved in being a member. It was great to tell others how I became involved and what it has meant to me. Since then, I have looked forward to having a voice at these meetings, and learning what they both entail. I just hope that it allows me to give back some of the help that I received when I first moved here.


News and Views Summer 2013:Layout 1 12/06/2013 16:33 Page 7

01442 228000 tenantinvolvement@dacorum.gov.uk

Involving you | 07

We found the keys We’ve had a great response to our ‘You are the key’ campaign to get as many of you as possible having your say about what goes on in housing. We invited people to a speed dating style session at the Old Town Hall to meet the tenant involvement team and tenants like Debbie Barnes (see page 6) and Barry Newton (pictured centre) who are already on board and having their say. There was lots of interest in the new Tenant Scrutiny Panel which we’re hoping to confirm by the beginning of

June and then begin training soon after. But there was also interest in joining the TLC and the Housing Maintenance and Environment Committee, as well as getting involved in the local community. The TLC’s Chair Rose Kosmalski invited a few people to attend their next meeting and see what it’s all about. Tenant Alan

Chalkey gives us his impressions below, while his daughter Rebecca tells us why we need more young people to get involved. If you’re interested, there are still plenty of opportunities. Call 01442 228000 and ask for tenant involvement or visit www.dacorum.gov.uk/key

Like father…

…like daughter!

by Alan Chalkley

by Rebecca Chalkley

My daughter has been getting involved with the Dacorum Youth Forum for a couple of months now and has been bubbling with enthusiasm; she seemed to be getting such a buzz out of it that when I heard about the “meet and greet” evening I thought I should have a look.

Hello! My name is Rebecca, I am 14 years old and I am a member of the Dacorum Youth Forum (DYF). Through the Council I have been able to participate in many events beneficial to me now and later in life. This includes visits to community lodgings with the Youth Action Entertainers.

The evening was much less formal than I had expected, the ladies of the involvement team were very friendly and evidently fully committed to the idea that tenant involvement is a good thing all round. There was a lot of information, with each team member explaining their role and answering questions (I confess half it went in one ear and out the other).

As active members of our community the DYF helps to improve quality of life for residents of Dacorum, not just our age, but of all ages.

For me the thing that really shone through was the enthusiasm both of the staff and the existing volunteers, a glowing desire to create a sense of community. Oh, the buffet was pretty good too!

Because currently we are not very well known for the events we run and the good things we do, I set up a display board in my school canteen depicting with images the ways people can contribute to their neighbourhood.

Since then I have attended, as an observer, a meeting of the TLC – a mix of Councillors, council officers and residents. I found, to my surprise, that the residents’ opinions were actively sought and seriously considered and that when questions were asked the answers were honest and informative – not like politicians at all.

The experience of being an active member in the community is wholly beneficial. Opportunities arise in the form of courses and day trips: opportunities that could potentially help us in adulthood when applying for careers or universities.

I have decided to apply to sit on the TLC, although I don’t know how much of a contribution I can make I’m convinced I’d rather be a part of it than stay on the outside complaining when DBC makes decisions with which I disagree.

If your children have something to say about your homes and communities, give Stephanie Bailey in the tenant involvement team a call on 01442 228000.


News and Views Summer 2013:Layout 1 12/06/2013 16:33 Page 8

08 | Your tenancy

www.dacorum.gov.uk

Tenancy agreement update In March we sent you a draft copy of the new Introductory/Secure Tenancy Agreement which was updated after changes to the law made since it was last revised in 2005. Thank you to everyone who took the time to give us feedback about the draft agreement; we received over 100 responses. You can see summary of some of the comments and questions that were raised below. Can my daughter live in my property after I die? If you moved into your home before 1 April 2012 your daughter has what is known as the statutory right of succession to your tenancy (provided she has been living with you for 12 months before your death). This means she could live in the property after you die – providing it is not too large to meet her needs (in which case she may be asked to move to a smaller property). If, however, you moved into your home after 1 April 2012, only your partner will keep the statutory right to live in the property after your death. If your daughter or another family member wished to live in the property, it would be at our discretion whether they were allowed to remain in the property. As a result of this feedback we have amended the tenancy agreement to make the rights of succession clearer. How does this new tenancy agreement affect tenants who have lived in their homes for a number of years? The new tenancy agreement applies to all tenants, regardless of when you moved into your home.

I signed a tenancy agreement when I moved into my property. Why do you need to change it? We have to ensure that the tenancy agreement is up to date and in line with current housing law. Any changes result in us having to issue you with a new tenancy agreement. I have read a lot about the need to keep communal areas clear. Is this included in the new tenancy agreement? Yes. In clause 61 we refer to the requirement to keep landings (communal areas) clear. We sent you a copy of the new tenancy agreement recently. This is for your information only and you don't need to take any action. If you have any queries about it, please call 01442 228000 and ask for housing or email housing@dacorum.gov.uk

New awning at Sursham Court Tenants at Sursham Court and George Street have been working with our involvement team to get a new awning for the communal patio area. The new awning was installed at the end of April and was partly funded through the local improvement grant. They’re all happy with the work that has taken place. Resident Caryl Brown told us: “I’m really pleased with how it looks. It gives us somewhere else to meet up especially in the good weather. We’d like to thank Sharon and Sarah for supporting us.” How would you improve your area if we gave you some money? Tenants and

leaseholders can apply for a local improvement grant of up to £1,000. There is no minimum amount.

For more information and details of how to apply please call 01442 228000 and ask for tenant involvement.


News and Views Summer 2013:Layout 1 12/06/2013 16:33 Page 9

01442 228000 tenantinvolvement@dacorum.gov.uk

Supported housing | 09

Sitting comfortably? Then let’s get active Tenants in some of our supported housing schemes are taking their seats for a new, chair-based exercise programme that aims to improve their everyday lifestyle and health. Qualified instructors from Sportspace's Sports Development team lead the residents in a series of seated exercise sessions which aim to improve mobility, strength, balance, flexibility and coordination. Andy Vincent, one of our housing managers, said: “We are keen to provide new and interesting activities to involve our supported tenants. These new exercise sessions are specially targeted at our older residents to help them stay mobile and active, so they can live independently for longer, and also provides a chance to socialise with their neighbours.”

Ann, Joan, Cath and Patricia at Betty Patterson House

Joan, 88, from Betty Patterson House, said: “I have a good laugh with the other tenants at the sessions, some of whom I wouldn’t normally get to see. I have limited sight which restricts some of the activities I can enjoy – these classes keep me active. The instructor is great fun and ever so friendly. I only wish they were held twice a week!”

The sessions are free for all of our supported housing tenants living in and around the following schemes:

Barbara (pictured right), aged 69, enjoys the sessions at the Leys Road scheme. She says: “They are good fun and not too strenuous. The feeling of well-being afterwards is great. I would encourage everyone to come along and have a go.”

If these initial sessions are a success, we’ll add more at other locations.

 Pond Close in Tring;  Sursham Court in Markyate;  Varney Road, Betty Patterson House, Gilbert Burnet House and Leys Road in Hemel Hempstead.

If you are interested in taking part, call your supported housing officer or call 01442 228000 and ask for supported housing.

A vision for supported housing People in our country are living longer and so often have increasing social care needs. As a council we need to be ready to meet these. So we’ve put together our vision for what the service needs to achieve and set ourselves some high standards. In a nutshell, the vision is our promise to provide good quality, affordable homes and support services which are tailored to individual people’s needs. We want to make sure older people can

keep their independence and sustain their tenancy. We’ve drafted the vision but would welcome your ideas on what it should say. The final version will determine how we manage the supported housing service in the future. It will also give new applicants a clear idea of what we’re about. For a full copy of the vision please visit our website at www.dacorum.gov.uk/ supportedhousing

For more information or to share your ideas, call 01442 228000 and ask for Dharini Chandarana or email dharini.chandarana@dacorum.gov.uk


News and Views Summer 2013:Layout 1 12/06/2013 16:33 Page 10

10 | Repairs and maintenance

“Give credit to someone who cares” STAR

survey update In the last issue of News and Views, we told you we are improving the standard of cleaning in the communal areas of our blocks of flats. Those improvements are ongoing: we’re taking on more staff, and we’re working on improving cleaners’ access to water supplies where necessary. Our cleaning rota is now available on our website (if you’ve got internet access, you can find it by searching for ‘housing cleaning’). We’ve asked all residents of flats with communal areas to get in touch if they spot any problems. We’d also like to hear from residents who are happy, of course. Barry Merridan, from Hatfield Crescent, wrote in to say: “We all moan and complain when things go wrong, but we never praise when things go right. I would just like to say that the lady who cleans our blocks of flats is truly amazing. Nothing is too much trouble for her, and the cleaning is second to none. Please don’t ever change her. Please give credit to someone who cares.” After we got Barry’s email, we talked to the lady in question, Sharon Courtney, and asked her to tell us more about herself for this issue’s Behind the Scenes column. Read more about her opposite (page 11).

www.dacorum.gov.uk

Full marks for gas safety checks We’ve just achieved a milestone in our efforts to keep your homes safe. In May we managed to get 100% of all tenants who had booked an appointment through their gas servicing and safety checks. Our usual performance has previously run at ‘only’ 99.9%. This is largely thanks to Mick Dommett from Orion, our gas contractors, and Pat Coles in in our property and place team who coordinate the inspections of 9,500 properties every year, which means making 190 appointments every week. But we also have to rely on you being in when Orion, our gas contractors, turn up. So it’s a team effort and we owe you a big thank you also. Faulty gas appliances can cause illness

and even be life-threatening, so it’s very important that your appliances are checked every year. If you give Orion access on the first appointment date they offer, then you’ll be entered into the monthly £100 prize draw and could be a winner like Mrs Piper from Adeyfield (pictured).

STAR feedback: you said, we did The 2012 STAR survey results confirmed that our Local Offers are right to include repairs as one of your priorities.

STAR

survey update

In particular, you said you’d like us to get more repairs right first time. So we’ve introduced ‘dynamic scheduling’, which means that we now try to get more information at the time we book your appointment in order to send an operative with the correct skills to complete the job at the first visit.

Our customer service staff will give you a job reference number to quote if you need to speak to us about any queries.

We’re continuing to work on areas of the housing service you weren’t as satisfied with as we’d like. We are reviewing our grounds maintenance service and asking tenants to decide how much of your rent money should be spent on the upkeep of communal gardens and amenity greens.

Take care of your smoke alarm Smoke alarms can save lives, so it’s important to make sure yours are working properly.

H hi an nt dy s# 4

 Test they are working by pressing the test/hush button on the front. The alarm should sound when the button is pressed. To stop it, press the button again.  Check that the green power light is on and that the red light flashes around once a minute.

 Smoke alarms work best when they’re kept clean and free from dust. Use your vacuum cleaner’s nozzle to clean the grill parts of the alarm, then use a damp cloth to wipe down the front.


News and Views Summer 2013:Layout 1 12/06/2013 16:33 Page 11

tenantinvolvement@dacorum.gov.uk

Repairs and maintenance | 11

Behind the scenes

New heat pumps create warmth out of thin air Tenants in Bede Court supported housing bungalows in Little Gaddesden are cutting energy costs thanks to the new air source heat pumps we recently installed. Because these homes aren’t on the gas network, they used to be heated with electric storage heaters. We’ve now replaced these with new pumps that extract heat from the air outside and convert it into energy to provide heating and hot water inside. That means they’re far more efficient than the old heaters, and will help tenants save money while staying warm.

Mrs Rickard, of Bede Court (pictured with home energy officer Ricky Lang), said: “I didn’t like the old heaters, as they were hard to control and poorly located. I did have reservations about the new heating system, but I couldn’t be happier with the end result. Every room is warm when I want it to be, and the hot water is a lot more powerful now. All of the workmen were really polite, and did a great job.” Mr Baker agreed: “The new system is easy to use and comes on instantly whenever I want it to. Waking up every morning to a warm home is brilliant.”

Hilltop Road gets a facelift We’ve recently carried out some improvements to the outside of our Hilltop Road homes. The old cladding was showing its age, so we replaced it with new UPVC cladding and installed a window with an air vent for white goods like tumble dryers. These changes don’t just look nicer – they should also help tenants save on their energy bills. Kevin Gladwell, a resident of Hilltop Road and one of our Street Block Voices, said: “It makes the homes warmer than before; it also makes the area a lot more pleasant to the eye, [although] there are more improvements to do in Ashlyns.”

Who are the people who make up Dacorum’s housing service? In this issue we meet cleaner Sharon Courtney. “Since joining the Council in 2003 I’ve worked as a cleaner and as a Supported Housing Officer at Saturn Way. “Before that I worked in various roles including providing support to children with learning difficulties and as a doctor’s receptionist. “Since 2010 I have been working as a cleaner in the Grovehill area. In my day-to-day work I am responsible for cleaning blocks of flats including stairwells, communal areas and paths. On my rounds I really feel I have got to know the local residents. “My job suits me perfectly as I love being in the outdoors, particularly when it is sunny! I enjoy working as part of a supportive team – there is always someone willing to help if needed. My favourite part of my job is meeting people. I really enjoy answering people’s queries and trying to provide the best possible customer service to our tenants and leaseholders.” You highlighted cleaning as a priority in last year’s STAR survey. You can read our booklet about cleaning standards online at www.dacorum.gov.uk/leaflets Please help us by reporting fly-tipping or any cleaning issues. Call 01442 228000 and ask for cleaning department or email housingcleaning@dacorum.gov.uk


News and Views Summer 2013:Layout 1 12/06/2013 16:33 Page 12

12 | News in brief

www.dacorum.gov.uk

Have you seen our new-look website?

Many of your general questions about council services can be answered by looking at our website: bin collection times, registering to vote, applying for planning permission, reporting fly tipping or graffiti – not to mention housing services. We’ve now improved how it looks and made it easier to get around and find the information you’re searching for. Please take a look at www.dacorum.gov.uk

Zero tolerance on staff abuse Our staff have been the victims of several abusive and aggressive incidents recently, over the phone as well as face to face.

tolerated. We will take action against anyone behaving in this way. It breaches the tenancy agreement and could lead to them losing their tenancy.

They have a right to work in a safe place and violence or threats will not be

Please help us to do our jobs and give you the best possible service we can.

Tell us what you think We’d like to know what you think about News and Views. We have sent you a survey with this copy of News and Views which we’d appreciate you completing and returning by following the instructions on the back of the survey. No postage is required. Everyone who replies will be entered into a prize draw to win a £25 gift voucher. We’ll use your feedback to improve future issues.

Do you have a spare room? Did you know that as long as you ask us, you can take in a lodger if you have lived in your council house for over one year? Taking in a lodger can help contribute to your living costs, but may also change some of your benefit claims.

For more information on taking in a lodger, how to find a lodger and making a safe and secure agreement, come to our Lodger Information event on Thursday 4 July at 7pm at the Civic Centre, Hemel Hempstead, or call Gemma Goacher on 01442 228000.

%

Requesting a repair To report a fault during normal working hours between 8am and 6.30pm Monday to Friday, contact Dacorum Borough Council:  By phone: use the freephone number 0800 0186050 or call 01442 228000 and ask for repairs  Online: www.dacorum.gov.uk/repairs  In person: visit your nearest Customer Service Centre To ask for an emergency repair between 6.30pm and 8am Monday to Friday, at the weekend or on a Bank Holiday, call the freephone number 0800 0186050. Do not report emergency repairs online. See your Tenants’ Handbook to find out more about what is considered to be an emergency repair.

Dog fouling problem We are getting an increasing number of complaints about dog fouling in communal areas. It is putting residents off using the drying areas and shared gardens and preventing us from cutting the grass. If you are a dog owner then please clean up after your pet. It’s just not fair to your neighbours.

Contact us... If you would like more information, want to give us some feedback or would like this issue in another format such as large print, CD or in another language, please call 01442 228000 and say the name of the person you want to speak to or simply ask for housing or tenant Involvement. You can also email us on tenantinvolvement @dacorum.gov.uk or visit ww.dacorum.gov.uk Textphone users please call 01442 228656. Find us on the Council's main Facebook and Twitter sites

Housing News and Views Summer 2013  

Housing News and Views is the quarterly newsletter for tenants and leaseholders of Dacorum Borough Council.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you