Brent Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee met last night to discuss options for a new housing management system system in the borough which will go to Cabinet on Monday. LINK
The meeting was extremely well attended by Brent Housing Partnership tenants and lease holders. At least two of the options would mean the end of BHP which is an ALMO (arms length management organisation) and semi-independent from Brent Council.
Tenants were forthright in stating that any return to an in-house housing management service would have to be much better than that which existed in Brent before BHP was formed.
Strong contributions to the discussion were made by Cllrs Conneely and Nerva but there may have been others as I arrived late from the Planning Committee which met at the same time.
In the current Brent Cabinet structure an in-house service would be monitored and overseen by an operational director and the lead member for housing.
This was felt to be be unsatisfactory given that lack of accountabulity and monitoring contributed to BHP's current difficulties.
The first strong recommendation from Scrutiny therefore was that if housing management is brought in-house there has to be a formalised, housing specific, oversight/scrutiny/sub-committee made up of councillots and residents represenattives of all types of tenure (eg tenants, leaseholders) preferably elected and with clear links with other levels of residents association.
A further recommendation was that if the in-house option was chosen that there should be complete transparency regarding the HRA (Housing Revenue Account) and it should be ring-fenced.
Thirdly a much better and effective communications strategy needs to be put in place.
Lastly. if Cabinet opts for a joint venture any contract must come back to Scrutiny before being agreed.