Lib Dems demand more of a say in wake of city homes scandal

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

Opposition councillors on Norwich City Council (NCC) will today (Tuesday November 30) propose a motion to give themselves more say on issues impacting council tenants in the wake of a scandal involving hundreds of missed safety checks.

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 which can cause lethal illnesses.

Letters were sent to 17,000 Norwich council tenants and leaseholders to tell them the council has put in place an "urgent" programme to make sure the checks are done.

Now, the council’s Liberal Democrat group is tabling a motion to involve opposition parties and representatives of tenants and leaseholders in a Health and Safety Compliance Board which the Labour-controlled council has pledged will meet four times a year to monitor improvements. 

Councillor Judith Lubbock, who will propose the motion, said: "There are new governance arrangements, comprehensive plans and proposals being developed to return NCC homes to full compliance, including the creation of a Health and Safety Compliance Board. 

“We feel it is essential that councillors from opposition parties have a seat on that board'. 

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Councilllor Caroline Ackroyd, who will second the motion, added: “Why shouldn't the voice of those who receive the services from the council have a say in how the council improves its services?

“If there had been better scrutiny and more openness and transparency in the past from a wider selection of councillors and tenants there may not have been this failure extending back over many years and now costing over £2m to put it all right.”

Norwich City Council Labour leader Alan Waters.

Norwich City Council leader Alan Waters - Credit: Ian Burt

Commenting in response, council leader Alan Waters said: “I’m pleased that the Liberal Democrats have acknowledged the comprehensive plans the Labour administration has put in place to tackle the failures around housing compliance.

“It is the responsibility of [the] Labour administration to sort this out and that’s what we are focused on. 

“Recommendations, recently passed by the scrutiny committee and cabinet, means there will [be] regular progress reports to the housing regulator, cabinet, scrutiny, all members of the council and the tenant involvement panel.

“[This is] ample opportunity for all views and contributions to be heard as we work towards 100% compliance.”

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