Councillors Want Action Against Housing Association

PUBLISHED: 09:04 05 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:46 04 May 2010

Designed by Helen Drake

Designed by Helen Drake

FURIOUS councillors from across the political spectrum united to condemn housing association Sanctuary Hereward s standard of service as the council considers legal proceedings against them. At a full council meeting on Tuesday, leader Fred Brown said

FURIOUS councillors from across the political spectrum united to condemn housing association Sanctuary Hereward's standard of service as the council considers legal proceedings against them.

At a full council meeting on Tuesday, leader Fred Brown said: "I feel that we are not being listened to as a council, we are not getting the level of service we deserve."

"The fact is we are talking about a lot of the people we represent, and the lengths they are having to go to get even the smallest thing done. As a council we are being dismissed out-of-hand," he added.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Ely, Sheila Friend-Smith said she had no hesitation in backing Conservative Cllr Brown. "I was one of the people who were supportive of Hereward taking control of the housing stock, but it's been so disappointing since the merger with Sanctuary and I have no hesitation saying this in public, Fred, but I will back you all the way," she told the meeting.

Cllr Brown's constituent in Littleport, Diane Giles, was swiftly moved after the Ely Standard reported the appalling conditions she had been living in at condemned Sanctuary Hereward flats in Wisbech Road - but the housing association's repairs contractor RG Francis took more than a month to find a replacement part for the boiler of her new home in Longfields.

"I was out of the frying pan and into the fire," she told the Ely Standard. "There is still damp in the bedroom and I have given up using those electric heaters they gave me -I can't afford to run them."

"There have been times when I thought I would be better off packing my bags and moving back to Wisbech Road."

"There was never a problem when it was Hereward," claims Mrs Giles. "You shouldn't have to call the papers to get your gas switched on."

Regional director of Sanctuary Hereward, Lisa Bek said the standard of service offered since RG Francis was appointed in 2008 had not met standards, and insisted changes would be made. She offered to meet with councillors to discuss their concerns in full, but was surprised at their comments.

"When Sanctuary Hereward was set up in 2007 to manage Sanctuary Group's stock in the East, including Hereward's stock in East Cambridgeshire, ECDC declined a place on the Board, however, they did have two representatives on our East Regional Committee," she told the Ely Standard.

According to Sanctuary Hereward, ECDC declined involvement in the Regional Resident's Forum, formed after the dissolution of the housing association's board in December 2008.

ECDC held an internal meeting on Monday to discuss formal arbitration proceedings, but costs may yet prevent them from bringing in an external arbitrator.

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