Housing association pledges to improve

A FIRM in charge of nearly 6,000 homes in West Suffolk has been commended in its first government inspection - but has pledged it will do more to improve services.

A FIRM in charge of nearly 6,000 homes in West Suffolk has been commended in its first government inspection - but has pledged it will do more to improve services.

An Audit Commission report has rated the Havebury Housing Partnership, in Bury St Edmunds, one star from a possible three saying it provided a fair service that had 'promising prospects for improvement'.

However five areas were highlighted that needed further attention, including safety issues in gas servicing arrangements, the repair program and overall value for money.

The independent not-for-profit partnership was created to take on St Edmundsbury Borough Council's portfolio of homes three years ago, comprising of 5,700 properties in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill and 77 surrounding villages.


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Steve Cook, chief executive of the partnership, which has already earmarked £90million for further renovations to its housing stock, said he was pleased with the progress that had been made so far.

“We are going to strengthen our focus on the customer and our repair service,” he said. “We spend around £2 million a year on maintenance, on top of the £90 million investment program, compared to just £500,000 a year the council could afford while the homes were in its hands.

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“Tenants have praised the quality gains that have been made but had been concerned over the timeliness of repairs, and we have a long term plan to get the service turned around.”

Mr Cook said a new £100,000 hi-tech handheld computer system was being introduced for its technicians, that would let tenants book accurate appointments and improve efficiency on all levels.

He added: “The inspection has been a very positive experience, and it has confirmed what we are doing well and given focus for our future work.”

The majority of Havebury's buildings, valued at around £450 million, were built in the 1960s and 1970s but some date back as far as the Tudor period.

Many had badly outdated fittings, central heating systems and insulation, which Havebury have targeted in a three-year improvement plan, costing between 12 and 13 million pounds annually.

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