Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Town Hall
Contact: Alan Garside / Jodie Kloss
Apologies for absence
There were no apologies for absence.
Disclosure of interests
There were no disclosures of interest.
Notes from previous meeting
The notes and actions of the meeting held on 17 October 2018 to be submitted and signed.
The notes from the meeting held on 17 October 2018 were submitted and signed.
The Committee and Scrutiny Support Officer (AG) advised the task group that all of the actions from the meeting had been completed.
Inquiries of Watford Community Housing
Members to ask questions of Watford Community Housing.
The Chair thanked Ms Barnard and Mr Johnson for attending the meeting. He explained that members would ask questions in four topic areas in respect of service charges, maintenance, repairs and customer service - with a member leading on each item.
In response to the questions, Ms Barnard and Mr Johnson:
· Advised that there had been a significant move forward in how service charges were managed since the previous task group had been held in 2013. Watford Community Housing (WCH) had taken on board all of the comments made previously.
· Informed the task group that two letters were sent out annually to tenants advising on the service charges (these were provided by Mr Johnson to members). The first, sent in February, was an estimate of charges for the following year based on experience from the previous year. The second, sent in September, included details of the actual charges made for the previous year – with adjustments made in relation to any service paid for that was not provided; and with an appropriate credit provided.
· Clarified that charges were not made when it was known that something was not working. It was not common practice to charge for services that WCH knew would not be provided over the year. Where this did occur, it would be a mistake and WCH would apologise for this. Overall, WCH would prefer a fixed service charge approach but the present system was based on actual costs.
· Advised that service charges were not applicable to houses unless they had a service provided. Tenants were responsible for maintenance of their own grounds. Charges were not made for maintenance beyond a property’s curtilage – although this would apply in the case of leaseholders.
· Explained that it was difficult to pin point on how many occasions and in what type of circumstances tenants were paying for a service, shown in their service charge, that was not actually provided. However, most credits related to issues around the cleaning contract and there was work to do in this regard. There had been ten such credits during the present financial year.
· Advised that cleaning services were provided to a block at a fixed price. If a clean was missed, this may be identified by estate and neighbourhood officer checks or by residents reporting that they had not seen a cleaner. WCH would then have a conversation with the contractor and a credit note would be issued.
· Explained that WCH was in the middle of re-procuring the cleaning contract and there were questions around the services currently being provided. The procuring process involved site visits with residents and interviews with the potential providers. WCH had established that the specification needed more deep cleans and had examined the quality of the cleaning (including carrying out surveys on different estates). Trends had been identified and the cleaning was not as good as it should have been. It was hoped that improvements would be made under the new contract.
· Advised that selecting the new ... view the full minutes text for item 15.
Members to consider the final actions of the task group.
Members discussed conclusions and recommendations and the final actions to be conducted to conclude the task group.
Watford Community Housing Task Group
The meeting started at 6.30 p.m.
and concluded at 8.55 p.m.