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Bid to improve satisfaction with council house repairs

PUBLISHED: 12:35 11 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:08 11 October 2019

Flagship Housing could forma  new company with Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils to carry out repairs on properties. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Flagship Housing could forma new company with Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils to carry out repairs on properties. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

RACHEL EDGE

Talks are set to begin between two councils and a building firm to create a new business that will combat falling tenant satisfaction with repairs.

Babergh Conservative leader John Ward said it was a good step for the councils to take. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBabergh Conservative leader John Ward said it was a good step for the councils to take. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils currently deliver repairs and improvements to more than 700 properties in-house.

But both councils' cabinets have agreed to pursue work on a joint venture with property maintenance firm Flagship, which aims to improve the repair and maintenance of its properties.

According to council data published ahead of the meetings, tenant satisfaction with the way the authorities carried out repairs had fallen by 18% in the last decade at Babergh and 5% at Mid Suffolk.

It is hoped a joint venture would utilise Flagship's expertise and resources, and could deliver money-saving economies of scale.

Mid Suffolk District Council Green party leader Rachel Eburne said it was important to protect staff. Picture: GREEN PARTYMid Suffolk District Council Green party leader Rachel Eburne said it was important to protect staff. Picture: GREEN PARTY

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Babergh's Conservative council leader John Ward said: "This looks like a really good way forward for us - Flagship are an excellent organisation for us to go into partnership with.

"It's not a question of off-loading [the problem] it's recognising it's only one part of what a council does and we don't have the same critical mass as Flagship in terms of people to commit to housing."

Conservative cabinet member for communities and housing at Mid Suffolk, Julie Flatman, said: "We have set the expectation that the building service is high performing, delivering a high quality service which provides value for money.

"However, our current service does not always meet these expectations. There may never be a good time to review the service but it is important that we plan ahead.

"We must consider whether the service we offer is financially sound and offers the best service provision to our residents."

The cabinets have agreed for work on a business case to be pursued with the firm, which is expected to return to both cabinets in spring next year for approval.

However, some concerns were raised over the cost of developing the plan and what demands Flagship might make. Liberal Democrat cabinet member for assets and investment at Babergh, David Busby said it was "sad that the only way we can help our customers is by handing the problem to someone else" while Mid Suffolk Green group leader Rachel Eburne said: "We have got a lot of staff working here and I have got a big concern that their roles are protected and work well with them throughout this process."

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