Published: 1 June, 2012
• COUNCILLOR James Murray may have added transport to his executive portfolio but there’s still lots for him to do at housing. Homes for Islington (HfI) may have been scrapped and its work brought in-house “amid complaints about lack of accountability and poor service” (Leaseholders’ massive victory over repair costs, April 13) but oversight of Partners, which manages most street properties, remains unsatisfactory.
Partners for Improvement in Islington Limited, to give it its full title, is co-partner with Islington Council in the two private finance initiative (PFI) housing management contracts created to implement central government’s Decent Homes scheme and manage the properties until the contracts – valued at almost £700million – expire in 2024-33, unless, of course, they’re terminated.
Residents of Partners-managed properties will surely be surprised to learn that a PFI contract monitoring team at the council – previously at HfI – exists to ensure that the Decent Homes and other “lifecycle” works have been carried out to contracted standards. Its presence on the ground during the PFI2 Decent Homes street refurb seems to have been an invisible one, with a tick-box check on completed works being carried out by Partners itself.
The least that’s required of a monitoring team is independent scrutiny. Guards guarding the guards is an unsatisfactory way of ensuring that the millions of council tax-payer money contractually guaranteed to Partners is being well spent.
Now that the Decent Homes works have been completed, accountability is non-existent. According to the council in-house housing management team, “day-to-day responsibility for ensuring works such as cyclical decorations are carried out satisfactorily and the properties maintained at the current standard will be with the main contractor, Partners.”
Cllr Murray would be wise to remedy this situation without delay.
Ellington Street, N7