Social housing provider Clarion has apologised and taken urgent action to address issues where tenants have been left for weeks without heating and hot water while one mum was forced out of her home because of mould.
Wisbech Councillor Virginia Bucknor fired off a series of angry emails after being contacted by tenants frustrated by the lack of action from Clarion, which has taken over Roddons and now manages Fenland District Council’s former housing stock.
Coun Bucknor said she could “weep” after being contacted only last night (Monday) by one tenant with two children, who is not only partially blind themselves but also one of the children is disabled too.
They have been without heating for three weeks and in an email to Coun Bucknor signed off saying: “Thanks for all your help I’m gonna go to bed now too cold to stay up, chat soon, thanks again.”
Coun Bucknor also wrote regarding a mum with two young children who was moved out of a damp and mouldy property only to discover the new house was not only mouldy too but had a broken boiler
As a result the family were given emergency accommodation at the Rose and Crown Hotel in Wisbech at the weekend and were told they may have to stay there for at least a couple nights so the heating could be fixed and the property inspected to deal with mould spores.
In a response Sue Stavers, Clarion’s head of housing, said a new gas contract had been awarded to Morgan Sindall at the beginning of last month.
“Since this time many customers have experienced a less than satisfactory service with some homes being left without heating or hot water for extended periods of time. This has resulted in an increasing number of complaints over the last six weeks concerning gas heating and hot water and higher than usual call volumes at Clarion’s Contact Centre, which has in turn had an impact on other residents trying to make contact with us,” said Mrs Stavers.
She said Clarion’s head of mechanical and electrical services has been working with Morgan Sindall’s managing director to address the performance issues and “reinforce what we expect from this contract to obtain absolute assurance that Morgan Sindall will take necessary actions to move performance in the right direction”.
Mrs Stavers said as a result of the intervention contact centre staffing numbers have doubled from six to 12 and will further increase when suitable staff can be employed.
She said: “This will make a huge difference to their ability to take calls, book appointments and to respond to resident queries.
“In addition, it has been agreed that for the short term a sub-contractor can be used to increase the number of available operatives. The number of operatives has already increased from 17 to 28 and this will increase to more than 30 during the next few weeks so that Morgan Sindall will be better resourced to respond to emergencies as they arise.
“There have been a number of significant IT issues which has impacted on Morgan Sindall’s ability to schedule appointments, provide appropriate documentation and allow visibility through their portal. This has been escalated to group level at Morgan Sindall and as a result the main issue around scheduling appointments has now been resolved. Additional actions have been agreed and we await confirmation of timescales for delivery.
“Further, as Morgan Sindall does not have the resources to carry out reactive replacements of boilers at this time, it has been agreed that this work will be placed with an alternative contractor until January 2018. This will allow Morgan Sindall to focus their resources on compliance, repairs and void property safety visits.
“It has also been agreed that Morgan Sindall will increase the scrutiny on non-compliant properties, including more calls and contact attempts with customers. They have also been encouraged to increase out of hours calls especially for longer overdue properties. We expect that this will have a positive impact on compliance over the coming weeks.
“I apologise for the impact that this service failure has had upon your own teams and thank you for bearing with us at what is a very difficult time for our collective customers, as well as our staff.”
She urged customers to call Clarion’s contact centre on 0300 500800, which will then not only manage the complaint but will also take action such as providing emergency heaters.
Alternatively residents can formally log a complaint online at www.circle.org.uk<http://www.circle.org.uk> for the failure in service.