A new housing company has taken over management of Northampton’s 12,000 council homes in a bid to rectify what some tenants described as ‘30 years of neglect’.
Northampton Partnership Homes officially took over the day-to-day running of the authority’s housing stock at an official Guildhall launch ceremony at noon, which saw ceremonial ‘keys’ handed over to its new chairman David Latham.
The company will operate as an arms length management organisation led by a 15-strong board comprised of tenants, council officials and independent members in a move to make the town’s social housing more accountable to its tenants.
Leader of Northampton Borough Council, David Mackintosh, (Con, Rectory Farm) said the new organisation aimed to address the authority’s “chequered past as a landlord.”
“Frankly there were far too many properties that were left unfit to live in.” He said.
“We needed a radical change to make a difference.”
And he added: “The creation of Northampton Partnership Homes is about giving the council tenants the security and service and standard of housing they would expect.”
The new operational model will see tenants given the opportunity to sit on six ‘improvement panels’, which focus on areas of the housing service such as repairs, neighbourhoods and the ongoing Decent Homes scheme works.
Tenants will have the chance to feed back any concerns they have about their homes at the panels, with the findings presented to the full board.
Retired public servant Keith Bennett, 65, and a resident of Abbey House in St James, is Northampton Partnership Homes’ new chairman of the tenant panels.
He said: “The feedback given at these meetings will not be about making change for changes sake – it will be about seeing what things can be done to improve the service.”
Interim director of property services for the Northampton Partnership Homes, Ken Hopkins, said the organisation will bring in a new ‘Northampton standard’ for repairs made under the previously criticised Decent Homes Scheme. Many people in Northampton had seen supposed improvements to run-down council homes, leave the property in a worse state than before.
The new standard will go ‘above and beyond’ the government-set Decent Homes standard, Mr Hopkins said, requiring contractors to carry out better improvements to showers, external lighting and the access to properties among other things.
Broadmead Avenue resident and council tenant Tony mallard, 82, said he is confident the new management will improve the life of those living in council homes.
“It will make things better for the tenants and the employees,” he said. “There has been so much neglect over the last 30 years.
“Some of the places we see, we couldn’t really call them a home.
“This is all about changing that.”