The ide a of the ALMO is that it is not bound by the red tape which affects councils and can move quickly to address issues. A recent council document has revealed the abject failure of this strategy. The Barnet Eye is calling for the Council to admit that the Barnet Homes ALMO experiment has failed, and to bring all council housing back in house. This will bring democratic control back into Council housing and end the policy of neglect for the people living in the worst estates on the Borough. The game has been given away in a DPR entitled - Regeneration estates essential lift works leaseholder charges -
Section 2.2 tells us that the worst estates were not included in the "wider Decent Homes programme". So let us assume that there is a parallel "Barnet Homes Crap Homes programme", for those estates most in need of regeneration. Here's what the report says.
Section 8.1 explains further :-
Most properties on the priority regeneration housing estates were not included in the wider Decent Homes programme which was successfully completed by Barnet Homes in 2010. This is because these homes are due to be demolished and replaced with new homes over the next 2 to 15 years. However, the Council has a duty to ensure that homes are maintained to a reasonable standard whilst they are still occupied and awaiting demolition.
And then it gives the residents of the "Crap Homes programme" the bad news in section 8.2.
The Council has developed plans to demolish the four largest council housing estates- West Hendon, Grahame Park. Stonegrove/Spur Road and Dollis Valley- and replace them with new homes as part of its regeneration plans.
In section 8.4 they let the horrendous state of these blocks completely out of the bag. Barnet Homes has been in existence since 2004 and yet it has taken 8 years to start to address "management systems which are unable to report emergency alarms". This to me is truly shocking.
There has been some slippage in the regeneration programme and it is expected that many of the properties will remain occupied for a number of years. The Council has a duty to keep these properties in a habitable condition for as long as they remain occupied.
Perhaps the most shocking statement in the whole report is in section 4.1, the revelation that the tenants of these blocks have a "Higher proportion of Households with disabilities". Is this how Barnet Council and Barnet Homes look after the most vulnerable people in their care? Put them in clapped out buildings, with lifts that are prone to breakdown, with no management systems in place to rescue them when they get stuck? The answer is clearly yes, because it says so in the Council's own report, in black and white.
The existing lift units have outlasted their useful life. The units have become unreliable and have a tendency to breakdown. This is because of material fatigue, increased mechanical failure of the moving parts and systems failure due to old legacy control and management systems which are unable to report emergency alarms.
Is there anyone in the Borough, who can disagree that this is a scandal? Is there anyone who can argue that we are failing our most vulnerable neighbours? I cannot hide my disgust at this whole issue and I call for the resignation of Tracey Leese and her management team and the immediate abolition of Barnet Homes. I suspect the only part of the "Arms Length" strategy that has worked for Barnet Council is to keep the most vulnerable people in the Borough at "Arms Length" from the Councillors who are meant to represent them.
Demographic analysis has shown that a higher proportion of households on the regeneration estates are from Black and Minority Ethnic household than for the council housing stock as a whole. In addition, more households are families with children and there are higher proportions of households with disabilities.
Here is the full, shocking report.
DPR-6 - Lift Maintenance