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Housing Services

Summer 2010

‘Plant a pot’ A ‘plant a pot’ event took place at Ankermoor Sheltered Scheme during May this year. Residents turned out to join forces with the tenant participation and caretaking teams in a tidy up of the communal area.

In this issue:Page2

Finding a Home

Page4

Rent Arrears Campaign

Everyone got stuck in with planting pots, tidying up the borders and generally giving the area a real facelift for the summer. The event was an idea originally submitted by the Seniors United Group who thought that it would be a good idea to try and engage with those people that we don’t always hear from as well as continuing to build on the hard work that residents put in at the different schemes around the borough.

All the participants (above) and Cllr Mary Oates with the plant a pot competition winner Mrs Rose Hemmings (right)

I have never done gardening before and I have really enjoyed it. It has encouraged us all to go in the garden and do something we can all appreciate. Maura Gordon

It was a very nice day and it made a change from sitting in the flat all by myself. Page 5 Reg Coombes

Tenants Contents Insurance

Tenants visit Morrison’s Page 6

How to avoid food poisoning

www.tamworth.gov.uk

During April, Morrison’s offered an open invitation for members of the Seniors United and Tenant Consultative Group to visit the call centre.

This was a very interesting visit. I was particularly impressed by the system used in the call centre. Having all the technicalities explained so well by the friendly staff was a real delight. Isa Blunt

The idea of the visit was to enable tenants to gain a better understanding of how repair calls are processed. At a Seniors United meeting earlier in the year, a couple of members had commented that they were unsure of how the appointment system worked and were also We had a question uncertain of timescales attached to particular repairs. Both and answer session with tenant representatives and the tenant participation team Morrison’s staff where we visited the call centre for a whole morning and used the learnt how the workforce are opportunity to sit with call centre staff, ask questions allocated their jobs via hand held about the appointment process and gain an insight into PDA devices. This device how repair calls are handled. The visit was extremely enables the depot to keep successful, thoroughly worthwhile and enjoyed by all.

Customer Dashboard Visit online for the latest performance indicators in housing www.tamworth.gov.uk/housing

track of jobs. Iris Clements


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PEOPLE looking for a home in Tamworth now have more choice over where they live, thanks to the introduction of Tamworth Borough Council’s new `Finding a Home Choice Based Housing Allocation Scheme` which was launched on Tuesday 11th May 2010. The new scheme is designed to allow customers to make a decision about where they want to live and ensures a fairer way of letting Tamworth Borough Council’s empty properties. Tamworth Borough Council is now

advertising all empty properties on a weekly basis and all applicants on the housing register can now express an interest in up to 3 empty properties per week which are suitable for their housing needs. The applicant with the highest priority under the scheme will be offered the property. A special Open Day was held on Friday 7th May 2010 at the Assembly Rooms, where over 200 of our customers dropped in to find out how the new Finding a Home Scheme works, see demonstrations of the new web-based service and talk to members of the Housing team.

Allocations Team

Housing Advice Team

To help you understand how the New Finding a Home Scheme Works, here are 4 simple Steps to Remember Complete a Housing Application form Once registered you will be allocated a unique housing application number - keep this number safe as you will need it to ‘express an interest’ on available properties

Search for properties Vacant properties are advertised weekly: Website: www.findingahometamworth.co.uk every Tuesday from midnight for one week. Newspaper: every Thursday in Tamworth Herald Posters: New properties every Wednesday at Tamworth Borough Council Offices

Express an Interest On the Finding a Home website express your interest in up to 3 properties per week (if you are eligible for that type of property)

Find out if you have been successful If you have been successful we will contact you to view the property. We will not contact you if you have been unsuccessful so you must continue to express your interest in other suitable properties. Results are available to view on the Finding a Home website

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To see a video of the new Finding a Home Scheme or to leave a comment, visit http://tamworthcouncil.wordpress.com/ and click on the ‘Finding a Home’ tab at the top of the page. People can also use our computers free of charge at Tamworth Borough Council Office, Marmion House, Lichfield Street, Tamworth to express their interest for empty properties. For more information on Finding a Home or to find out your Housing Application number, please contact the Borough Council’s Housing Advice Department on 01827 709459 or e-mail: housingadvice@tamworth.gov.uk. Alternatively visit www.findingahometamworth.co.uk Let us know what you think about the new housing allocation system by completing the Customer Satisfaction survey on the Finding a Home website.

Atte

ntion!!! Remem ber - Do n’t app propert ly for ies that suitable are not for your househ needs i old .e. eithe r too bi too sma g or ll, other wise yo express ur ion of in t e r e s ts will b discoun e ted eac h time.

To find what size of property you can express an interest in, please visit our website www.findingahometamworth.co.uk or contact the Councils Housing Advice Department on 01827 709459.

www.findingahometamworth.co.uk

Your views matter! A Young Tenant Survey has been put together for the benefit of young tenants aged between18 to 35 living in Tamworth Borough Council properties. The aim is to gain an understanding of the issues and needs of a target group that are often seen as ‘hard to reach’. The survey will hopefully provide us with an understanding as to why young tenants are reluctant or unable for whatever reason to get involved with Tamworth Borough Council housing service for the benefit of themselves, their homes and community. A draft survey was initially produced and then taken for consultation with the TamYouth Group. The aim of this was to have young peoples input into the actual survey. The colours and images used, wording and content of the actual questions within the survey was discussed. The young people also suggested that an incentive should be included.

The consultation took place at Tamworth Youth Centre and was a very successful exercise. The input from the young people was very positive and beneficial to the production of the survey. If you are a young tenant between the age of 18 and 35 then look out for a survey coming your way. We would like to find out about the issues that are important to you. For any further information please contact the tenant participation team on free phone 0800 183 0454 or email us at tenantparticipation@tamworth.gov.uk

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Help is at hand with Council’s Rent Arrears Campaign During February this year, Tamworth Borough Council launched an early Easter campaign offering help and advice to people facing difficulties paying their rent. The campaign’s aim was to make tenants and business owners aware of the options available to them in order to help take away the anxiety of debt, reduce the number of court actions and evictions. Tamworth Borough Council’s Income Team kicked off the campaign by going out into the community to spread the word. The team manned a market stall on Tuesday 23 and Saturday 27 February to talk to people and promote direct debit and the “Rent First” campaign. Cards were handed out to tenants in arrears advising them how to make payments, where to get advice and information and details of the Council office’s opening times over the Easter period. Running a stall created a tremendous amount of interest amongst market traders, locals and visitors to the area. A total of 367 enquiries were received and the general feedback was extremely positive. A further direct debit payment promotion also took place outside shops within the Tamworth area and two “Rent First” campaign events were held where representatives from Age

Tenant Faith Shell with staff on the stall held in the town centre

Concern, Citizens Advice Bureau, Credit Union, Home Start, Housing Benefit, Bromford Support, Estates Team and Income Team were on hand to talk to anyone requiring assistance and advice. If you need any help, advice or support then you can contact our financial Inclusion Officer: John Coombes, by email: john-coombes@tamworth.gov.uk or by telephone on 01857 709709.

How satisfied are you? In driving forward our approach to excellence, the Housing Service is continuing to assess the work that it does and seek continuous feedback from customers so that we can measure what we are doing and how well we are doing it. Every two years, each home receives a Status Satisfaction survey. This questionnaire asks what tenants think about the services offered by Tamworth Borough Council. The results are taken seriously with a focus on identifying and tackling dissatisfaction. However, we want to challenge ourselves to evidence that we are delivering what our tenants want and to do this we have introduced an annual programme of customer satisfaction into the views of our tenants. We will carry out regular customer surveys and other specific surveys to help us get your views on a whole range of services to include repairs and maintenance, anti-social behaviour and our rent and arrears service. Included in each survey there is an ‘About You’ form that we are asking every tenant and joint tenant, if applicable, to complete. We want to make sure that everyone who uses our services is treated equally and the results will allow us to tailor our services to meet customer needs. Any information you give will be treated in the strictest confidence. If you would like to take part in any of our surveys or perhaps join one of our occasional focus groups then we would love to hear from you. For further information please contact the tenant participation team on: freephone: 0800 183 0454 or email tenantparticipation@tamworth.gov.uk

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Tenants Contents Insurance Tamworth Borough Council has recognised some of the problems that tenants face in obtaining ‘Household Contents Insurance’ and has therefore arranged a contents insurance scheme which has been produced around your needs. The Tenants Contents Insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. You can give yourself peace of mind offered by this scheme knowing that you will have a contents insurance policy which includes the following benefits: No excess payable on any claim No Need for a bank account

● The insurance is available to all tenants subject to scheme

Wates complete their 750th Kitchen During March this year, Wates completed their 750th kitchen at the Stoneydelph home of Mr and Mrs Mills and their son Matthew. Mr Mills commented that whilst work had taken place around the refurbishment, particular consideration had been given by staff to their son’s illness, which had resulted in Matthew having no immune system. Workers were very considerate, had kept mess to a minimum and had worked very closely with the family to make works run as smoothly as possible. Glen Currie, Tenant Liaison Officer for Wates, presented Matthew with a football shirt and tickets for the UEFA cup match whilst Mr and Mrs Mills enjoyed their new refurbished kitchen.

acceptance criteria

● Fast and efficient claims service

Mr and Mrs Mills with their son Matthew in their new kitchen

● New for old cover (except clothing & household linen where an allowance for wear & tear is deducted)

● Cover for fire, lightning, explosions, storm, and flood. ● Cover for the escape of water/oil from any fixed water or heating installation or domestic appliance

● Cover for theft or attempted theft ● Cover for accidental damage to televisions, video players & recorders, hi-fi systems, satellite decoders, DVD players & computer equipment & accidental breakage of mirrors, ceramic hobs in cookers & fixed glass in furniture

● Cover for personal money in the home

How your rent charge is calculated

● Cover for theft & loss of keys ● Cover for damage to interior decorations.

There is also the option to extend the standard cover at an extra premium to include the following:

● Full Accidental cover for household contents

There are reduced rates for tenants who are aged 60 and over and in receipt of state retirement benefit. Cover starts from £6,000 up to £40,000.

The “basic rent” for each council dwelling is calculated using the government’s national formula. This is based on a calculation using 30% of the estimated property value of your home and 70% of the average earnings for Staffordshire (adjusted by the number of bedrooms). In addition to the basic rent, some tenants have a weekly service charge if they receive a communal heating service or 24 hour access to the emergency call centre which is added to the basic rent. The combined charge of “basic rent” and service charge is known as the gross rent. Rent charges are reviewed every year and tenants are given at least four weeks notice of any rent increase.

For all other tenants the cover starts at £9,000 up to £40,000. Premiums are payable weekly, fortnightly, monthly or annually. For further information and an application form contact the income or estate team on Tamworth 01827 709 709.

Rent is charged weekly in accordance with your tenancy agreement. The rent debit is raised on a Monday of the forthcoming week and if rent remains unpaid by the Friday of that week it will become a rent arrear. Rent is collected over 50 weeks.

Alternatively you can pick up an application form from: Tamworth Borough Council, Marmion House, Lichfield Street, Tamworth, Staffs, B79 7BZ.

If you would like any further information on how your rent is calculated please contact the Income team on 01827 709514. We want to know how you feel about the ‘rent and arrears services’ you receive at Tamworth Borough Council. When you receive your quarterly rent statement in July we will be grateful if you can spend the time to complete the survey included. There is an opportunity for all completed questionnaires to be entered into the free prize draw to win £20 of high street vouchers. Alternatively any winnings can be used to reduce any rent arrears you may owe. There are 2 vouchers to be drawn.

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Take Simple Steps to Avoid Food Poisoning To mark the start of Food Safety Week, Tamworth Borough Council is reminding people in Tamworth about the importance of good food hygiene in the home. This is particularly important during the summer months, when levels of food poisoning soar. There are around 120,000 extra cases of illness recorded across the UK when the weather is warmest. Every Year around 90 people in Tamworth get ill from food poisoning. We expect to see the number of cases increasing as the weather gets warmer and barbeques and eating outside become more frequent. To help people learn more about this, and the simple things they can do to keep themselves and their families safe, we will be having a food safety display in Ankerside Shopping Centre and the Borough Council reception area where information will be provided. In addition we are proposing to hold food safety talks in primary schools and local mother and toddler groups where information will be given out to take home. People should not worry unnecessarily about food poisoning; there are some simple common sense steps people can take to avoid getting ill. Just storing, handling, and cooking food properly will minimise the risk. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) advises that following simple principles will help people to keep food safe. Proper cooking will kill food bugs. It’s especially important to make sure poultry, pork, burgers and sausages are cooked all the way through. If there’s any pink meat or the juices have any pink

or red in them, germs could be lurking! Check your food is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Avoiding cross-contamination is also extremely important, that is preventing bacteria from spreading between foods and from contaminated surfaces or utensils. Make sure you store raw meat covered at the bottom of the fridge, below and away from ready-to-eat food. Never use the same chopping board for raw meat and ready-toeat foods without washing the board and knife thoroughly first. The FSA also highlights that clean hands in the kitchen are vital in the fight against food poisoning; while food must also be kept at the right temperature. Food that needs to be chilled should be kept in the fridge, and check that it’s running at the right temperature – between 0˚C and 5˚C. Storage above this range can allow bacteria to grow or harmful toxins to form. Also, on a picnic, don’t take food out of the fridge until the last minute and use a cool bag to keep it chilled until ready to eat. For more advice on food safety go to eatwell.gov.uk/keepingfoodsafe

Summer Events in Tamworth Outdoor Events 29 Aug Summer Festival - Castle Grounds 11 & 12 Sept Heritage Open Day - various town centre locations 18 Sept Stars and Stripes - Castle Grounds

Tamworth Assembly Rooms 9-11 Sept Tamworth Beer Festival 14 Sept An Evening of Clairvoyance with TV psychic Tony Stockwell 19 Sept Moonlight Serenade Orchestra UK

B o x O f f ic e: 018 27 7 09 618

Tamworth Castle “Living History” Events Every Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in August. 3,4 &5 August Meet the Civil War Soldiers 10, 11 & 12 August Meet the Victorian Housekeeper and her Servants 17, 18 &19 August Meet the Regency Household (1807) 24, 25 & 26 August Meet Mrs Cooke and her Governess 18 & 25 Sept Even More Haunted Murder Mystery 23 & 30 Oct Ghost Tours 25 - 29 Oct Children’s Halloween Haunted Castle

For more events and information telephone the box office or check the website: www.whatsontamworth.co.uk

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Estate Mangement Team

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Keep your back alley clear!!!!

High rise flat safety

Tamw orth B oroug h Cou ncil

Fire s a for te fety n in hig ants rise f h lats

Follow have ing fire sa fe b Tamw een put in ty measure o p s that the C rth Borou lace by o g and R uncil and St h Council, b es this h cue Servic affordshir oth e Fire andy e h av advice safety e pro d what in mind. It leaflet wit uced h you to do will ad r your flat o in the even vise you o r you t o f a fire n r block Staffo in . rd Servic shire Fire e and R Safety also offer escue fr use th checks. An ee Home Fire ybod is serv y freep hone: ice should wishing to 0800 call 024199 9

Many of our estates have rear alley ways that enable residents to get access to the back of there properties and these are often gated, preventing the public from gaining access.

Following fire safety measures that have been put in place by Tamworth Borough Council, both the Council and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have produced a handy advice leaflet with your safety in mind. It will advise you on what to do in the event of a fire in your flat or your block. For m o websi re fire safe te ww ty w.sta informat ion ffordsh ire.go , visit our v.uk

The responsibility of ensuring the alleys are kept free from rubbish is that of the adjoining properties and can be enforced by Law. Please do not misuse your rear alley as a dumping ground or storage area as you may be charged for the removal of items that are causing a hazard or obstruction, under the Public Health Act 1936 Section 78.

Every resident of the Riverside flats will have received a copy of this leaflet which should be displayed in a prominent position in your home so you will know what action to take in the event of a fire.

If you witness your neighbours misusing your alleyways, please report it to Alan Freeman Enforcement Officer on 01827 709440 or the Estate Management Team on 01827 709491.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service also offer free Home Fire Safety checks. Anybody wishing to use this service should call freephone: 0800 0241 999 For more fire safety information, visit the following website: www.staffordshire.gov.uk

MAY Stonydelph

Inspections

all rubbish highlighted was cleared on the inspection day and all other areas were clear and well maintained

Glascote

a lot of graffiti was highlighted

Coton Green

graffiti was the main issue highlighted

Belgrave/Old Kettlebrook

overgrown and unmaintained gardens were well above the level of this time last year

Bulky items: Amount of bulky items collected following May inspection – 100% same week. Graffiti:

All offensive graffiti was removed within 48 hours. All non offensive graffiti was removed by 25 June. We achieved 100% for both as promised in our service standards.

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Spot the difference to

win!

Tamworth Borough Council is offering you the chance to win £20 if your spot the difference competition entry is selected from our prize draw. There are just two competition rules: ● You have to be a tenant of Tamworth Borough Council. ● You have to circle 3 differences between these two photographs.

Once you think you’ve found all 3 differences, circle them clearly, fill in and cut out the entry form and then return it by 6 August 2010 to the following address: Diane Hughes, Tamworth Borough Council, Marmion House, Lichfield Street, Tamworth Staffordshire B79 7BZ. All correct entries will be entered into a prize draw and the winner notified soon after the deadline. The competition is open to Tamworth Borough Council tenants only. Good luck!

Spot the difference

winner!

Congratulations to Sue Harrison of Balfour who was the lucky winner of the Spot the Difference competition in the Spring 2010 issue of Open House. Enjoy your prize! Thanks to everybody who sent in competition entries!

Name: ____________________________________________________________________________ Address: __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ Telephone No: ____________________________________________________________________

If you would find it easier to talk to us in your own language please ask an englishspeaking friend or relative to contact 0800 183 0454. We can arrange for an interpreter to contact you to discuss any translation you need.

If you would like to get involved then contact

Tamworth Borough Council’s Tenant Participation team: Leanne Allwood Tenant Participation Manager 01827 709448

Diane Hughes Tenant Participation Assistant 01827 709374

Helen Rich Customer Service Assistant 01827 709260 email us: tenantparticipation@tamworth.gov.uk

If you would like this document in a different form, for example audio cassette, large print or Braille, please contact the Tenant Participation team on 0800 1830454 Tamworth Borough Council 8

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Marmion House, Lichfield Street, Tamworth, Staffordshire B79 7BZ. Enquiries: (01827) 709709 Designed and Produced by Tamworth Borough Council Main Fax: (01827) 709271


Summer 2010