Call for opposition say on council house safety scandal dismissed

Norwich City Council is taking contracted-out services back in-house; Photo: Nick Butcher.

A bid for opposition councillors and tenants to have more say in the wake of a council house safety scandal has been dismissed - Credit: EDP pics © 2007

An opposition group's bid for more of a say on issues impacting council tenants in the wake of a Norwich council house safety scandal has been blocked.

In October it was revealed that a failure in oversight had resulted in missed electrical safety checks at nearly 900 homes, some of which should have been carried out at least five years ago.

In addition, water supplies in up to 500 homes may have missed vital checks for legionella, a germ that can cause lethal illnesses.

On Tuesday evening, the Liberal Democrat group tabled a motion calling on the council to include opposition councillors, tenants and leaseholders in the Health and Safety Compliance Board - a group set up to oversee the implementation of an improvement plan. 

Norwich Liberal Democrats Caroline Ackroyd, James Wright and Judith Lubbock at the cutting the turf

The three-strong Liberal Democrat group on Norwich City Council, left to right: Caroline Ackroyd, James Wright and Judith Lubbock - Credit: Danielle Booden

Judith Lubbock, who proposed the motion, said: “I feel there has been enough evidence of mismanagement of the maintenance services and oversight of the contracts to warrant improved scrutiny by all parties of the council - not just the administration who are responsible for the problem.” 

Labour group leader Alan Waters thanked Ms Lubbock for acknowledging the social housing regulator approved of the plan in her motion but dismissed the calls for opposition representation.

He said: "The housing regulator, cabinet, scrutiny and all members of council and the tenant involvement panel will get regular reports from the compliance board which will mean that there’s ample opportunity for all views to be heard as we work towards 100pc compliance.”

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council.

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor. - Credit: Jeff Taylor

Mr Waters added he understands the opposition parties will be concerned about the failures, but said it was the Labour administrations role to "get on with the job".

Green Party group leader Lucy Galvin supported the motion, arguing they wanted to make the council better for Norwich.

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She said: “We don’t see that we’ve had a chance to look at this properly, less so have tenants and leaseholders.” 

The motion was defeated.

Earlier in the meeting council approved an earlier cabinet decision to release £2m from the housing revenue account to catch up on any work that needed to be done following the inspections.

Labour deputy leader Gail Harris reassured the meeting that no council flat residents would be missing out on communal boiler upgrades, despite concerns previously being raised.

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