Stoke-on-Trent City Council refuse to release results of £118k home repairs survey- in case residents want work done
MORE than £118,000 has been spent on a survey to review how much repair work is needed on the city's council houses – but tenants and councillors are not allowed to see the results.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council reviewed the condition of thousands of homes to help officers budget for how much money will be needed to pay for maintenance and repairs over the next 30 years.
It saw 3,900 properties surveyed in full, roughly 20 per cent of the council's houses, at a cost of £118,420.
But the authority has refused to release the results under Freedom of Information laws – over concerns it would lead to a surge in tenants demanding repairs at their properties.
Call WHITEGATES Today 01782 209935 ..Limited offer. Available only up on production of voucher. Sell your home for £399 plus vat.* #EPC is required to market your home not included in offer.
Terms: *Upfront payment, non-refundable in the event of property remaining unsold, being withdrawn from the market or being sold by another agent, yourself or by any other means.#EPC £62.50 plus vat
Contact: 01782 209 935
Valid until: Thursday, July 04 2013
And even councillors and housing staff are barred from seeing the details until they have been "briefed."
Mum-of-three Karen Bowen's council house was fitted with a new boiler and insulation in June under a £2.6 million partnership between the city council and energy firm EDF.
The 50-year-old, of Theodore Road, Bucknall, hopes the survey will lead to similar improvements elsewhere but feels the results should be made public.
She said: "As well as tenants needing to know, we elect councillors to take up these issues on our behalf and it doesn't seem right that they can't have the information.
"Without all of the information being available they can't make decisions.
"The improvements here have made a remarkable difference. It's much warmer and much more economical.
"It's the sort of thing I'd like to see being done elsewhere when the funding becomes available."
The council carried out the 'comprehensive housing stock survey' after buying its way out of Government control under national reforms.
Major changes mean the council is now responsible for self-funding its council housing, using cash from loans and rents to pay for maintenance and improvements.
It increased rent charges by 6.91 per cent this year, an increase of £218 a year to £64.84-a-week for most tenants, and further rises are expected to help fund maintenance.
Housing officers will use the survey to draw up budgets for investment, including when kitchens, bathrooms and roofs need replacing.
The survey also looked closely at heating efficiency and smaller repairs like gutters and paving.
But information control officers say releasing the results would cause "an increase in customer enquiries relating to when improvements will be carried out."
They added: "Prior to publishing the stock condition survey it will be necessary to properly brief frontline staff, elected members and other stakeholders."
Data is now likely to be published "over the coming months", albeit in an edited format, alongside information about how investment will be targeted.
Independent councillor Dave Conway, opposition leader and former cabinet member for housing, pictured, said: "Tenants are paying for the housing service and they have paid for the survey. They have a right to know the extent of repairs needed on their homes.
"If the results were brilliant I would fully expect them to publicise it so it makes me wonder what exactly it is they have found out."