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The World's End Estate

Council acts to keep the gravy train going


The Council has decided to keep the gravy train going by extending existing contracts and awarding existing contractors new contracts. Contrary to the many promises it repeatedly made to residents at meetings at the Town Hall and elsewhere.

As has been noted on this website before, the biggest obstacle to the meaningful improvement of the services the residents of World’s End and other Council properties receive and pay for are the contractors providing them:

Of all of the challenges facing the Council this may be the most serious – these contractors provide the bulk of the services received by residents, and many have become accustomed to providing those services on their terms and to the detriment of residents, the TMO having failed to ever manage or monitor them properly. The Council must act to ensure that all contractors deliver what they have signed up to do and, should they fail or refuse to do so, end their failing contracts at the earliest opportunity.

We therefore took heart when the Council repeatedly promised that the performance of all existing contractors would be reviewed and those found wanting would be replaced at the earliest possible opportunity.

Unfortunately this promise is proving to be a lie.

The Council has, in the last couple of months, extended contracts with existing, poorly performing contractors, without consultation. It has also awarded new, long term contracts to existing, often poorly performing, contractors.

That is very clearly not what was promised.

And, as a result, things have not changed let alone improved. They are all much the same as under the TMO. As we said last year:

... the contractor who cleans the estate is the same as under the TMO, as is the contractor who maintains and repairs the estate’s communal lighting, as is the contractor who maintains and repairs the estate’s lifts, as is the contractor who maintains and repairs the estate’s communal hot water and heating system, as is the contractor who maintains the estate’s gardens and open spaces, and so on. None of these contractors have changed. And sadly, and as many predicted, neither has their performance.

The Council will no doubt try to claim otherwise but the reality on the ground is quite clear - many residents simply cannot tell the difference between life under the TMO and life under the Council when discussing the estate’s cleanliness, its lighting, its lifts, the heating and hot water, and the condition of the estate’s communal areas and facilities.

It is extremely disappointing that those paragraphs are as relevant and as accurate today as when they were first written.

And it is very hard to see how the Council expects services to improve when their actions appear to be to try to maintain the status-quo at all costs. Improvements arise from changes. If you change nothing you will improve nothing. The Council is changing nothing.

Footnote: the apparent mystery of leaseholder satisfaction

At a recent public meeting (held on-line because of the pandemic) the latest customer satisfaction figures were discussed. The figures for leaseholder satisfaction were apparently ''disappointing''. The staff from the Council's Housing Management department in (virtual) attendance are supposed to have found this puzzling.

We would suggest that this is neither a great mystery nor any kind of puzzle.

Leaseholders pay for services - cleaning, repairs, gardening, etc. If the services they pay for are not, in fact, improving in any noticeable way why should their satisfaction levels improve? And why are the services they pay for not improving in any noticeable way? Well one rather obvious reason is described above - the Council going out of its way to change nothing.

In the real world customer satisfaction levels are known to be strongly associated to the quality of the services you provide. And that measurable improvements in the quality of the services you provide will generally lead to measurable improvements in your customer satisfaction levels. The Council appear to be rather unique in expecting customer satisfaction levels to improve without having done anything meaningful or substantial to improve the quality of the services it provides, either directly or via its contractors.

Apparently it was even suggested at this meeting that leaseholders had simply failed to appreciate how satisfied they should be with the Council's services and that the Council might therefore need to explain this to them through improved communications. We hope that was misreported or some kind of joke because it is, quite frankly, indicative of some seriously bizarre thought processes.

Whatever the case it appears that some rather extreme magical thinking has taken hold at the Council's Housing Management department. This is unlikely to give anyone any confidence in said department's ability to improve anything.

And given how difficult the Council's Housing Management department are apparently finding it to grasp such simple customer service concepts perhaps they will simply revert to the TMO's long-standing habit of fiddling the customer satisfaction figures instead? They've certainly adopted plenty of other old TMO habits over the last two years.

Related Articles:

The Management of our Homes - One Year On

Housing Management transfers to the Council

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