Tower Hamlets Homes Repairs Service

In conclusion to the problems I’ve had with the water supplies as described in detail I would like to say the following:

When Tower Hamlets took over the service of our flats as ALMO for London Borough of Tower Hamlets they made a lot of changes, which resulted in a centralisation and de-personalisation of services.

The centralisation of repairs services to a phone switch board, started whilst housing still was with Tower Hamlets council and then those blocks that did not opt to join other ALMOS, were taken over by Tower Hamlets Homes.

Prior to this  the local housing offices instructed repairs to workers directly from their office, where residents reported them, which had dedicated locally placed housing officers, that knew all the blocks and pitfalls and special conditions of blocks and  local staff also knew the remedies and how they could be achieved via the quickest and cheapest route.

Our local housing office was 73 Bishops Way but prior to that, Wellington Estate had a housing office in one of the blocks on the Wellington estate and Parkview estate had their housing office in the Glasshouse. Both estates then got amalgamated to have a housing office at 73 Bishops Way, where originally the housing officer Mr Nelson is famous for his excellent work in maintaining his 2 estates.

73 Bishops Way housing office became victim to the housing services re-structure, we got re-directed to Gladstone Place and now to Rushmead.

I remember the demonstration taking place outside of 73 Bishops Way housing office during the last week of opening. Since then I had joined the housing improvement working group to see what could be done to improve repairs and services in general but keep on running my head against a wall because it is the service structure itself that is at fault and whilst THH continues with this service structure we cannot do any improvements.

I went to many meetings with local residents and consultations where always the same complaint brought by all attending and discussing this matter, again and again, namely that people want local dedicated housing officers and care takers that know the area and the people residing in it. (Taking into account that also our police officers change more often, we suffer a considerable amount of social destabilization with these changes).

Looking at the story of our water repair taking 2 days to complete with several service teams being sent out to investigate the problem and having to learn how our water distribution functions, I want to emphasize that a locally run service manned by dedicated local housing officers would immediately have been able to pinpoint the problem, allocated appropriate repairs teams because a local officers would have known about the extremely complicated and unusual water distribution systems on Rosebery House. In contrast we have a central telephone system where operators sit, that do not know the conditions on any particular block and have a one fits all policy to adhere to. This has without any doubt cost at least double the money to carry out the repair. There is no reason to blame the contractors for that because they rely on instructions from the THH engineers and contractors also change often or they use subcontractors and they cannot possibly be expected to know each block and all complications within it.

In conclusion I think it was right that I left the THH working group where I could not do anything because I think it is the structure of service provision that is at fault and they do not want to hear that.

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