Council tenants in York face additional charges

Some housing repairs to attract fees

The Council says that the reason that garage 11 on Bramham Road has been boarded up for over 6 months is because if contains potentially hazardous asbestos. They have now agreed to have the garage cleared.

The Council is revising its policies on charging for housing repairs. It could mean that tenants will have to pay “upfront” for repairs although emergency attention to blocked drains, broken windows and power failures will continue to be given priority. Tenants may be charged (£145) future if they are “locked out” and call for Council assistance. Replacing a gate will cost £161 while an internal door will be charged at £79.85.

Window repairs will cost between £33.00 and £190.00 depending on size.

A new bath will cost £311.35 and an electric fire £291.27

The new policy – which can be read by clicking here  – is likely to cause some controversy. Post and wire is confirmed as the standard boundary fence. This type of fencing is unsightly and often ineffective.

The Council is, however, committing to removing asbestos when found in council homes.

Garden sheds will not be repaired by the Council.

The proposals have not been subject to consultation with tenants associations.

There is a growing list of grievances that many tenants have with the Councils housing department.

In recent months we have seen the “good tenant” scheme dropped while poor management of the Council’s garage stock is an ongoing issue. A new Housing Estate Improvement Programme process, introduced 2 years ago, has been widely criticised with delays in both agreeing and the implemention of improvements.

NB. The Council makes a profit on its housing revenue account of over £4 million each year.

Future of York Council housing to be decided on Thursday

“This is likely to require the demolition of the poorest housing stock to replace with new homes”.
click to download

click to download

The report states that 60% of Council homes were built between 1930 and 1968. Older ones may be reaching the end of their lives. The report claims that the popularity and value of all properties have been assessed in a “Housing Asset Register” although no link to the document has been provided.

The report’s conclusions could have far reaching effects on many Council tenants living in York.

 It is a shame, therefore, that the report – and an accompanying review of the Housing Revenue Account – have been added to the agenda for the busiest meeting of the year, with tenants and their representatives having had little time to digest the report’s content (or even see it in most cases).

No consultation with stakeholders has taken place nor is any promised.

The Council confirms that – in advance of government legislation – it will sell any high value Council houses that become vacant, although It does not indicate the threshold for such sales.

It will also consider selling other sub-standard properties when they become vacant. Non-standard built houses like “Orlits” and those liable to flooding or dampness are specifically mentioned.   

Orlit houses may face demolition

Orlit houses may face demolition

One piece of good news is that the Council may in future use “right to buy” receipts to fund “a programme of purchase and repair of individual homes from the open market if no use has been identified (for the receipt) with 6 months to go”.

The Council is right to come up with plans for a regeneration of its housing estates. Too many of them have been subject to decline over several years with officials having ignored the need to provide basic improvements, like car parking spaces, for too long. 

There is little pride in some communal areas and some politicians see local open spaces and the stock of 968 garages only as potential building sites.

However, by giving all homes what it calls a sale “opportunity rating” the Council seems to be oblivious to the resulting blight that could affect whole neighbourhoods.

It would be easy to dismiss a report on the future of the 7731 Council houses in York as the work of a Borneo Witch Doctor. It certainly contains a lot of mumbo jumbo.

The proposals need a lot more thought and debate.

Well fancy that

Andrew Waller at the derelict garage site earlier in the week

Andrew Waller at the derelict garage site earlier in the week

Just 24 hours before York’s Labour cabinet were due to answer some embarrassing questions about a garage that had been allowed to fall into dereliction, workmen arrived yesterday to repair it.

The media reported on Monday that the garage on Windsor Garth had been boarded up since 2012.

Andrew Waller pointed out that there was a lack of off road parking available in the area and that the Council was losing a lot of income through failing to repair the garage.

The derelict site was also an eyesore.

Cllr Lynn Jeffries tabled a question on the long running saga which was due to be answered at tonight’s Council meeting.

Newly refurbished garage door on Wednesday

Newly refurbished garage door on Wednesday