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housing news for Winchester City Council tenants and leaseholders

Government to Change Funding of Council Housing? City Councillors will be meeting at the end of June to consider plans announced by the Government for a reform of council house finances. Councils have until July to respond to proposals replacing the existing housing revenue account (HRA) subsidy system – in which Winchester pays £9 million a year – with a scheme that would leave Winchester with a debt of £156 million. The new Government says it is committed to reforming the current HRA subsidy system and will consider all responses before supporting the proposals. Under the proposed new scheme, councils could retain all rent income in return for taking on a share of the national housing debt. The City Council would be expected to take on more debt per property than most, because rents are high and assumed costs are low compared to other areas.

It would mean more money for managing housing in Winchester – just about enough to maintain the Decent Homes standard in future years – but many Winchester tenants would still have to accept kitchens and bathrooms over 30 years old. The deal on offer does not match the value for money that could be achieved through a transfer to a housing association or tenant management organisation, which could provide far more resources to fund tenants’ services. However, Winchester’s tenants are strongly opposed to any option that separates the housing service from the Council and so the Government offer will be considered very seriously by councillors. For more informaton please contact free phone 0800 716 987 or email your views to housing@winchester.gov.uk The Council will continue to argue for a better deal for Winchester and will provide more information on this in future editions of on the house.

Tenant News, produced by Tenants efor d iTenants t i o n 1can be found at the back of this edition

Congratulations to Bernie and Helen Sheppard, from Alresford, who won our on the house survey competition. Their name was picked out of the hat to win £50 in Love2Shop vouchers. The couple are keen gardeners and former winners of the Best Front Garden. Full results of our on the house survey on page 2.

inside this edition: G G G G G G

Making a difference New housing standards You said. We did Stanmore spring clean Get gardening Property Repairs 2010/11

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17

June 2010


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thebigword telephone interpreting service

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Dear Readers

The Council uses a 24-hour Telephone Interpreting Service, which also provides written or recorded translations including audio tapes and CDs.

It is really pleasing to see the impact an active Residents Association can have! North Stanmore Residents Association is making such a fantastic difference to people’s lives in the local area!

If you, a relative or a neighbour would like to talk to the Council through an interpreter, please contact your Area Housing Manager on 01962 840 222.

The big Spring Clean earlier this year brought so many people together to get things done – congratulations to you all!

Glynis Cole

get it taped If you would like any of the information in on the house made available in large print or audio format, please call Glynis Cole on

Freephone 0800 716 987.

TEXTPHONE This facility is available for readers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Please telephone 01962 878 982. If you have any particular needs which affect how you are able to use or be involved in our services or how you would like to receive information - for example translation, interpreters, Braille, audio tape, large print, sign language - please contact the Customer Service Centre either by telephone: 01962 840 222 or by email: customerservice@ winchester.gov.uk Winchester City Council, City Offices, Colebrook Street, Winchester, SO23 9LJ. telephone 01962 840 222 fax 01962 841 365 email housing@winchester.gov.uk website www.winchester.gov.uk Telephone calls may be recorded.

Once again I’m looking forward to visiting your beautiful gardens for our annual competition. Cllr Rob Humby has kindly agreed to be the judge again this year – look out for the entry form on page 8.

Easy to read and interesting The results of our latest on the house survey were really positive! Nearly 90% of tenants who replied read the newsletter in detail and well over 80% of you find it interesting and relevant. We were also delighted that everyone who replied said the newsletter was easy to read and 6 tenants are interested in helping us put future newsletters together. Key suggestions include: G

Competitions

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Local news about local areas

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Information on Area Housing Manager including photographs.

colleagues from other parts of the country say on the house is a great example of communicating with tenants. “These results show that you enjoy the newsletter and like to know about the Housing services we provide for you!”

 Like the style Ë

You have made some excellent suggestions for future editions, which we will act on!

Like the size

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Richard Botham, Head of Landlord Services, said: “My housing

Easy to read

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Printed on 75% recycled paper.

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Making a Difference to family life

Stanmore Spring Clean The Stanmore area of Winchester has been given a thorough spring clean! Residents, children and local agencies joined forces for a week long campaign to clean up the streets and get rid of litter. Pathways were jet washed, paving was repaired, graffiti was removed and the roads were swept. The campaign was led by North Stanmore Residents Association and the Council’s Neighbourhood Wardens. They were joined by the Police, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, A2 Dominion Housing, SERCO and the Council’s Housing, Community Safety and Open Spaces teams. Neighbourhood Wardens recycled items where possible, to either the

Bar End recycling centre or Emmaus, a local charity that helps homeless people rebuild their lives. They removed bulky items for elderly and disabled people who needed extra support. Neighbourhood Warden Hannah King said: "We were completely overwhelmed by the uptake of the bulky goods service, but were so pleased we could help so many people out.” If your local area would benefit from a spring clean and you live within the Winchester City Council area please contact Hannah King, Neighbourhood Warden for Winchester City Council on 01962 840 222.

AREA HOUSING MANAGER UPDATE Kate Mooge retired in April after 21 years service with the Council. We all wish her a long and happy retirement. Chris Pope joined in June to manage Colden Common, Denmead, Bishops Waltham & the southern parishes. He is a qualified housing professional and has gained experience from working in both the local authority and housing association sectors. You can contact your Area Housing Manager on 01962 840 222.

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A local family has settled into a new home in Alresford thanks to the Council, housing officers and contractors. In late 2009 a high priority request was received to re-house Mr and Mrs Green and their family who were living in Harestock. The Greens needed a new home that was big enough for the family but suitable for the specific needs of a wheelchair user. The Strategic Housing team together with Landlord Services Voids and Disabled Adaptations teams began to review available properties. At that time most properties fell short of the space required, and lacked the potential to be adapted to meet the family’s specific needs. In January 2010 a suitable property became available in Alresford which had the potential to match the long term needs of the family unit and the National Goal of Independent Living. Just six weeks later the Council had put in place the necessary adaptations. Richard Botham, Head of Landlord Services, said: “I am so pleased that we were able to help this family in such a practical way. “Council staff working with our contractor Mostlane pulled out all the stops to ensure the house was turned round in a few weeks. “I hope Mr and Mrs Green and their family will be really happy in Alresford.”

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GARAGES TO LET

Happy with Hampshire Home Cho

Better, safer and affordable

People on the Hampshire Home Choice register (HHC) have had a chance to give their views on the new allocation system and scoop a prize in the process.

Why park your car on the road when you can park it in a dry, secure lockup? Garage charges starts from as little as £7.87 per week and are currently available in the following areas. Bishops Waltham Oak Road Denmead Bere Road Fieldway Stanmore Bailey Close Walpole Road Thurmond Crescent

Weeke Rowlings Road Trussell Crescent Westman Road Winnall Baigent Close Firmstone Road Shepherds Road Winnall Manor Road

April marked the first anniversary of Hampshire Home Choice, the scheme that aims to provide a fair and equitable housing service for all applicants. In March questionnaires were sent to everyone housed through the scheme, those searching for properties online and visitors to local housing offices. The results were: G

A whopping 90% (162) agree or strongly agree that HHC is easy to access and understand.

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Over two thirds (68%) agree or strongly agree that HHC kept them informed of their housing situation.

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84% (150) said that HHC does make it easier to select where they want to live.

If you are interested in renting a garage please contact Steve Machen on 01962 848 148 or by email smachen@winchester.gov.uk

TENANTS HANDBOOK FEEDBACK NTS

ok The new Handbo and updated Tenants Handbook was sent out last June and the majority of tenants welcomed the new design and format. TENA

TENA

NTS

89% liked the new design and format

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92% thought information and advice was good.

Other comments were:

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May 2009

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ter City

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ications

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ok Handbo

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More than 400 tenants responded to our survey about the handbook, which was an excellent response:

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Very happy with the book, content and format

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Delighted and overwhelmed with the wide range of information

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Better format because it is easier to store. An improvement on previous handbook

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Better than the “Yellow Pages”!

Tenants wanted more information about local amenities and more advice for those with children. Some preferred the former ‘ring binder’ system. Tenancy Services Manager Amber Crosskey explained: “We put considerable thought into this and it was felt that the new format would prove more costeffective in the long term.” The Council will use the feedback for other housing publications.

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Hampshire Home Choice! Everyone who completed a questionnaire was invited to enter a prize draw to win a shopping voucher and the winner, picked at random, was Mr Jon Griffiths from Knowle Village.

TENANTS

The Councils' Head of Strategic Housing, Andrew Palmer said: “Hampshire Home Choice is most grateful to all those who took part in this survey. TENANTS

“It is important that we use exercises like this one to review and monitor our processes ensuring transparency across the scheme and learn from this experience for the future.”

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You said... We did... () We take your views very seriously and although it is not always practical or cost efficient to action all the suggestions we receive from you, they are all considered on their own merit. We also consider your comments through questionnaires, forums, and Tenant & Resident group meetings. Here are a couple of your suggestions and the action we have taken.

You said

We did

Sheltered Housing Tenants during a regular Information Sharing Session asked officers for more recreational activities to be held at their Schemes.

We introduced Later Life Fitness and Movement Classes tailored to the individual. Get Fit 1-2-1 was introduced across some of our sheltered schemes giving tenants an opportunity to get together and keep fit at the same time.

A householder in Stanmore complained that drivers were using the Minden Way garages as a short cut to Chatham Road. She was concerned for the safety of pedestrians and other road users.

Officers began looking for a solution last September. Barriers were not suitable because of the need for access by emergency vehicles. After consultation with local residents it was agreed to install lockable posts. These are now on order together with road signs.

New Standards for Housing Tenants are set to benefit from a major change in the way councils and housing associations are regulated. For the first time, every social housing tenant in England will be given a common set of standards 1. Tenant involvement and empowerment – covering customer service, choice and complaints, involvement and empowerment, understanding and responding to diverse needs of tenants 2. Home – covering quality of accommodation and repairs and maintenance

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from their landlord whether it is a council, housing association or other provider.

responsibility for regulating social housing in England.

The standards came into force in April 2010 when the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) took over the Audit Commission’s

The TSA, with the help of tenants nationally, has put together standards, which include the following:

3. Tenancy – covering allocations, rents and tenure 4. Neighbourhood and community – covering neighbourhood management, local area co-operation and antisocial behaviour For more information about the TSA go to www.tenantservicesauthority.org

5. Value for money. The TSA expects landlords to work together with their tenants to shape local service delivery, local priorities, and to involve them in scrutinising performance.

Later in the year the Council will be contacting you to invite you to get involved in helping us meet these new standards.

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Property REPAIRS 2010/2011 External Repair and Paint

Term Contract Renewals The Council is in the process of drafting new contracts for day to day responsive repairs and void (empty) properties. This work is currently carried out by Serco, and JAD Builders Ltd and Munro, but the contracts expire at the end of March 2011. Council officers are liaising with TACT to draft new contracts, which are being put out to tender this year. Following a detailed assessment contracts will be appointed in December and will start in April 2011.

Major repairs and renewals programme 2010/11 Redecoration programme for older tenants – this programme remains suspended.

New kitchens and bathrooms These will be installed where necessary for re-letting purposes and a limited number where they are beyond economic repair. The Council is reviewing pre-1980 kitchens and pre-1970 bathrooms, and will replace a limited number later this year.

Adaptations for disabled tenants The Council is clearing the backlog from 2009/10 and should cope with demand in 2010/11.

Heating Upgrades will take place in certain areas as determined by the age, reliability and condition of the existing gas appliance. Certain appliances will be upgraded in the following areas. If your home is to be included you will be notified in writing. Battery Hill, Bishops Waltham

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Bere Road

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Devenish Road

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However, there have been some changes to the way this programme will be handled.

Electrical Testing This programme will start with remedial works being carried out that were identified during last year’s

Annual Servicing of Gas and So

Gas Heating Upgrades

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The External Repairs & Painting Programme operates on a fiveyear cycle, which means that around one fifth of the housing stock is included in the programme annually.

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Elizabeth Road

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Taplings Road

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Jesty Road

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Westman Road

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Moss Road

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Wykeham Field

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Rowlings Road

As your Landlord the Council is required by law to undertake an annual inspection of any gas fired or solid fuel heating appliance in your home. This also applies to gas supply pipes that may not be in current use. Over the past year the Council has continued to take the strongest steps to gain access to some homes where tenants have not co-operated. w w w. w i n c h e s t e r. g o v. u k


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Property REPAIRS 2010/2011 l Repair and Paint Following a detailed survey of those properties which make up this year’s programme, only those homes which have been identified as requiring essential repairs (see list opposite) will have work carried out. Therefore if a property which was last painted five years ago remains in reasonable condition, no further work will be carried out at this time. By carrying out essential repairs where necessary this will keep properties in a wind and weather-tight condition and ensure that they do not fall short of the Government’s Decent Homes Standard.

BIGHTON G

Wood Lark Cottages

BISHOPS WALTHAM G

Castle Road

G

Norton Close

COMPTON G

Martins Field

DENMEAD G

Ashling Park Road

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Bere Road

G

Brookside Close

G

James Howell Court

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White Wings House

KINGS WORTHY programme, before moving on to a new regime of testing based upon the previous test date. If your home is to be included, you will be notified in writing.

G

Somerville Road

OTTERBOURNE G

Coles Mede

SOUTHWICK G

Castle Road

G

Norton Close

SPARSHOLT G

Sheddon Place

WINCHESTER TOWN

G

Stockwell Place

G

Abbey Passage

G

Woodman Close

G

Beggars Lane

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Blue Ball Corner

STANMORE G

Fox Lane

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Chester Court

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Keble Street

G

Granville Place

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Sheridan Close

G

Hyde Gate

G

St Mary Street

G

Hyde Lodge

G

Wolfe Close

G

Mildmay Court

G

Parmiter House

G

Riverside House

G

St Johns Street

UPHAM G

Elm Crescent

WEEKE G

Devenish Road

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Union Street

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Fromond Road

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Wales Street

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Greatfield Road

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Water Lane

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Pemerton Road

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Wharf Hill

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Trussell Close

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Wolvesey Terrace

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Westman Road

WINNALL G

Furley Close

al Servicing of Gas and Solid Fuel Fired Appliance As a result of this firm approach, we are pleased to report we have gained access to 98.9% of properties resulting in an improvement on last year’s performance. However we must strive to gain access to 100% of properties and your co-operation as tenants is absolutely essential. The Council will continue to take whatever legal steps are necessary to gain access – e.g. by seeking possession of your home

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through the courts. Don’t lose your home – let us in! Kinetics, the Council’s contractors are able to offer appointments at your convenience to carry out this service. Their staff will also check and service your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors when carrying out the heating system maintenance, ensuring the safety of you and your home.

But remember:

FAILURE TO CARRY OUT THIS WORK COULD RESULT IN SERIOUS ILLNESS OR DEATH BY CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING. For further information about Property Repairs 2010/2011 call Gaynor Bromley or Barbara Howells on 01962 840 222.

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Get gardening! :::::: It’s time for proud gardeners – or their neighbours – to join our annual competition to find the best gardens, balconies and hanging baskets. Councillor Rob Humby, from Owslebury, a keen gardener and nurseryman, has kindly offered to return as the judge for this year’s contest. He said: “I had such a lovely time last year meeting people and seeing their hard work. When I was asked to return as judge I didn’t hesitate to say yes!” Entry is free to all Winchester City Council tenants and leaseholders.

Best Novelty Container – First Prize £25 Best Front Garden – First Prize £35 Vouchers; Runner Up £20 Best Hanging Basket – First Prize £25 Vouchers Best Sheltered Housing Scheme – First Prize £35 Vouchers; Runner Up £20

Your Name..............................................................

Name*.............................................................

Address ..................................................................

Address .................................................................

...............................................................................

...............................................................................

...............................................................................

...............................................................................

Daytime Tel. No .....................................................

Daytime Tel. No .....................................................

* if you are nominating another gardener please enter their details here: (Please make sure you have their permission). The deadline for entries is Friday 16 July 2010 and judging will take place in the last week of July. Glynis Cole, Tenant Involvement Manager, Winchester City Council, FREEPOST, NAT15377, Winchester SO23 9ZQ. No stamp required. Email entries to tenantinvolvement@winchester.gov.uk.

Television aerials As you may be aware, analogue television signals are being replaced by digital signals in all areas of the UK by December 2012. In order to stay ahead of this national deadline the Council is replacing communal TV aerials by January 2011. If you share an aerial with other residents, it will be upgraded to receive digital services. G

Existing Analogue Channels (until they are switched off)

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Digital Freeview Digital Freesat Sky Digital Sky + HDTV.

You will need to have a digital TV or receiver box. If you want to receive Sky or High Definition services you will need to subscribe to the relevant provider. Leaseholders living in Council-owned blocks will be asked for a contribution towards the cost of the work. We will provide one aerial point per dwelling. You are able to have extra aerial points in your home if you

pay for these. You can arrange this with the contractor selected to carry out the works. If you live in a block with a communal aerial and you currently receive your TV signals through your own satellite dish, the dish may no longer be required. In these cases, the Council will remove the dish at no expense to you. Further information on whether your existing television is capable of receiving digital signals is available from Digital UK on 08456 50 50 50, or at www.digitaluk.co.uk

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On the House - June 2010  

June edition of On the House - Housing news for Winchester City Council Tenants and Leaseholders.

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