Agenda item


A verbal presentation by representatives of L.H.P.


The Chairman formerly welcomed Mr Anthony Read the Chairman of Lincolnshire Housing Partnership, Mr Murray MacDonald the Chief Executive and Mr Mark Coupland the Executive Director of Customers.


Addressing the committee Mr Read confirmed it had been 18 months since their last attendance at BTAC which had proved to be a positive meeting and he recognised that the committee now had a large number of new members. Members were thanked for the submission of questions in advance of the meeting, enabling LHP to provide comprehensive answers and the nature of the question reflected the fact that things did go wrong, with clear identification of those issues in high visibility areas being prominent within the questions. Members were advised that LHP facilitated around 50,000 repairs per year, with the vast majority being repaired without delay or any need for further intervention.  Referencing the recent press release in respect of a potential merger by LHP with Ongo, Mr Read invited Mr MacDonald to update the meeting further.

Members were advised that the consultation process was currently taking place across all areas and in particular with their stakeholders.  LHP had given a commitment when it had merged with Shoreline of Grimsby five years previously, that it would maintain and enhance its’ presence in Boston and the villages.  LHP still ran all services in Boston, from Boston and employed over 100 staff who lived and worked in the areas. Ongo’s heritage and ethos was very similar to that of LHP with them being responsible to North Lincolnshire Council as LHP were responsible to Boston Borough Council and intended to remain so.

The reasons for consideration of the merger included the opportunity of providing size and resilience at a far higher level than possible when the organisation stands alone.  It would provide efficiencies that would go back into the communities and as a charity, with no shareholders, no money would be leaving the system.  Both companies were committed to place and both involved and working with their Council colleagues in areas of ASB, regeneration and environmental issues.

Should the merger go ahead then savings could be invested back into  areas including repairs and using the systems Ongo currently had in place, including video diagnostics in their properties enabling instant viewing of a problem and the ability to provide advice direct to the tenant in respect of the issue.  The merger would also enable LHP to bring more maintenance in-house in areas such as roofing, and with a view to providing apprenticeships across a range of maintenance skill sets moving forward.

One key area of concern remained the state of neighbourhoods and the fact that whilst houses were created and turned into homes, if the neighbourhood was not clean and tidy, people did not feel confident to thrive.  LHP continued to undertake preventative work with partners daily to stop issues escalating. 

Ongo had formed their own charitable foundation with £1mil per year going into various communities.  It was an act LHP would hope to emulate as it enabled them to undertake actions that a landlord could not, with Ongo having built a community centre and supported the running of a local post office, each providing and supporting a key community asset. 

A wide number of consultation streams for the potential merger would be running through to Christmas Time including stakeholders / partners and tenants.



Members questioning followed with responses provided when possible and is collated and included:


In response to a question seeking clarification on the onus of responsibility for grounds maintenance, which included excessive plant growth covering existing fences, members were advised that the grounds maintenance contract did not include clearance of over growth plants but only the cutting of grass.  Referencing concerns noted as the amount of grass cuts per annum and the quality of the cut provided, members were advised that there was a charge for tenants for the service and any extension to the contract to provide additional cuts would require an increase to that charge.  In relation to the quality of the cut members were advised that management of the contractors had slipped and a performance notice had been served, resulting in the contractors having a more robust approach and LHP’s own team now oversaw delivery of the service.  Members were further advised that with the right to buy exercised by tenants, LEP had taken the decision not to penalise those who chose to stay as tenants, and as such had picked up the costs for the grass cutting service from those who bought their property.

Responding to a suggestion that gardens which were overgrown due to elderly residents being unable to maintain them could be rented out for allotments, members were advised that LHP would look to address the issue with the resident and would not want to remove a garden from anybody.  A further suggestion of turning such a garden into a driveway was also urged caution on, as such a move would require permission with LCC and incur costs to their adopted highway standards.

Members were further advised that a programme was being implemented to review the quality of fencing across all sites with LHP committed to renew decaying wooden fencing where needed.

Members were encouraged to attend the site visits / walkabouts carried out across the various sites and advised that an action plan was formulated from the outcomes of each site visit and monitored to ensure the issues highlighted were addressed.  

Responding to concerns about a potential reduction on spend or presence for one partner should the merger go ahead, members were advised there would be no percentage spend, each partner would retain its sovereignty and the scheme would be fair and equitable allowing either partner to be accorded in-depth spend at a time of need.   Members were further advised that Ongo would enable greater capacity looking forward for development having a large existing development programme.

Having raised a concern at the lack of residents on the board for LHP, members were advised that there was no requirement for resident board members and it was a rare practice across the sector.  However, the members on the board for LHP was very diverse and also was very skilled with a wide range of expertise to support the organisation.  LHP had developed and launched a trainee board member programme, and had recruited a customer to sit on the operations committee to provide an insight in all complaints and issues the committee dealt with. Addressing comments in respect of customer engagement, members were advised that moving forward all customers were consulted at the draft stage of any strategy prior to any approval, to ensure the final document was compiled to their expectations and in a comprehensible format.  Moving forward it was the organisations intention to take a more holistic approach and not, as previously, simply signpost customers.  The ‘Your Voice’ platform which was a digital platform to engage customers had also been successfully launched. 

Other suggestions from members included using BBC CCTV on the various sites to assist with ASB activity, providing QR Codes for reporting incidents quicker and also possible use of augmented diagnostics. 

Appreciation was noted by a number of members at the speed with which their enquiries were responded to via the direct member line, with the promptness of the reply allowing them to respond to the residents.


Concluding the Chairman thanked all three of the representatives from LHP for their attendance and for the information they had provided and the reassurances and response they had given to the committee.


It is noted that certain individual residences / areas of concern were noted which would be addressed direct with the relevant ward member following the meeting.