Council saves £1.7m on bills

Blackpool Town Hall
Blackpool Town Hall
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HOUSING chiefs have slashed costs by £1.7m since they took over the running of Blackpool’s council homes stock five years ago.

Over the same time, satisfaction with the service has increased by seven per cent, bosses claim. But tenants say more could be done to tackle anti-social behaviour on the resort’s estates.

Steve Matthews

Steve Matthews

The findings are part of a review of the performance of Blackpool Coastal Housing (BCH) commissioned by Blackpool Council.

The council set up BCH as an arms length management organisation (ALMO) in 2007 to manage its 5,500 properties.

Although the agreement is due to remain in place until 2021, the council has the option to pull out in March next year if it wishes to do so.

But council chiefs have agreed to retain the ALMO.

A report by the head of strategic housing Steve Matthews says: “Blackpool Coastal Housing has continued to provide tenants with local, customer-focused and cost effective housing management services.

“This has been evident through increased levels of tenant satisfaction, improvement in services and year on year efficiency savings.”

Other options open to the council were to return the housing stock to direct council management, or to transfer it to a housing association which could bring in revenue of up to £5m but would leave the town hall with no say in the management of the homes.

Mr Matthew’s report concludes: “A review of management options suggests there are no significant advantages to changing the current arrangements.”

However the review did uncover areas of concern including a slow re-letting rate, with it taking nearly 29 days to find new tenants when properties were vacated.

This was blamed on the high percentage of small flats and bedsits, and the transient population.

Housing policies are now addressing this issue by introducing more family homes.

The report shows just over three quarters of tenants are happy with the way anti-social behaviour issues are handled.

Gwen King, chairman of the Queens Park Residents Association, said BCH had improved its service since being formed.

She said: “They have cut down on costs and how long it takes to carry out repairs.

“Efficiencies include negotiating better terms with contractors and they are always looking for better value.

“There are still issues with anti-social behaviour but the director of housing is very confident they can solve these issues.”

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