I opposed Barnet Homes creation for three very sound reasons.
2. It would make it more difficult for councillors to get problems fixed as they wouldn't control the organisation.
3. It would provide a framework for a then future Tory administration to mold further outsourcing of public services on, which I felt (and events have shown) simply doesn't deliver value for money or decent services.
Sadly, Barnet Group has been in the news and it's not been good. Please CLICK HERE TO READ THIS STORY ON THE BBC WEBSITE about the appalling state of Barnet Group owned housing in Rockfield House.
Barnet Council published the following response to the story.
Barnet Council response to BBC London News
Published:13th December 2022
Following last night’s BBC London News story on rented properties with damp and mould which featured a block in Barnet, Deputy Leader of Barnet Council and Chair of the Housing & Growth Committee, Cllr Ross Houston said:
“We have already been in contact with residents at Rockfield House affected by damp and mould and are doing all we can to help them and to resolve the problem.
“We have also been pro-actively surveying all Barnet’s council homes so we know which properties need action, and we will be bringing that action plan to the next meeting of the Housing & Growth Committee on 17 January, early next year.
“As a new administration elected in May, ensuring residents in Barnet have healthy, affordable homes that are energy efficient and well-insulated is a key priority for us, and we are taking our responsibility to deal with damp and mould very seriously.
“After 13 years of austerity resources are scarce but we are committed to resolve severe cases of damp and mould quickly, and to make sure mild cases are dealt with and do not become severe.
“Much of the council’s housing stock is old and regeneration plans have been delayed in the past, so part of the long-term solution is to build more affordable, large family homes which we will be doing as part of our 1,000 new council homes programme.
“All of this, together with plans to retrofit and insulate homes, will take more resources than we currently have so it is crucial that central government listens to local councils and provides the necessary resources to do what needs to be done and what they are asking of us.”
With regards to this statement, I have a couple of issues. The first is with regards to "Much of the council’s housing stock is old and regeneration plans have been delayed in the past". This is a very poor response. My house was built in 1908 and has no damp. This is because it is properly maintained. Barnet Homes are obsessed with 'regeneration' but should do the basics first, which is proper maintenance of existing housing stocks. They also said "After 13 years of austerity resources are scarce but we are committed to resolve severe cases of damp and mould quickly" . Black mould is a health risk and it should not take a BBC report to spur them into action. The "new administration" has been in place of six months. At what point are they not a "new adminstration"?
To my horror, another resident at a different location contacted me yesterday, via an intermediary. They forwarded the following email that they had sent the council (I am respecting their privacy but I can pass on deatils for legitimate media enquiries or to any councillors who may see fit to assist)