March 6, 2019 3:27 PM

leaking roofConservative-controlled Brentwood Council is failing its residents by delivering a desperately poor, money-wasting housing service with failings going back years.

A car crash meeting of the committee that covers the Conservative-led council's housing services exposed grave concerns, lack of procedure and concealed information that led to the resignation of two councillors from their posts recently.

Cllr Vicky Davies, housing spokesperson, said:

"I was astounded. In 23 years I have never witnessed such anger across the chamber. Everyone's concern is for the safety of our tenants and this led to both sides of the chamber abstaining on the vote."

Amongst the concerns raised by councillors were:

  • No planned maintenance of council properties has been undertaken for four years due to a "stock condition survey"
  • The stock condition survey commissioned in 2015 has cost council tax payers a considerable (undisclosed) sum, is not fit for purpose and is now being repeated at a further significant cost
  • There is only a "wishy washy" list of properties with asbestos and a lack of an asbestos policy that seeks to prevent practices that lead to asbestosis and mesothelioma
  • Hidden information about broken doors, kitchens and bathrooms unfit for purpose and other unsafe issues with council properties
  • The committee decision to partner with Basildon Council to oversee repairs and maintenance contract was suspended without councillors' knowledge
  • Personal information was being breached with photographs of the inside of people's homes
  • No information on whether protocols have been reviewed and updated.
  • Lack of detail in reporting and reports being produced in an unreadable format
  • Lack of communication over near misses such as a potential Legionnaire's Disease in an elderly home
  • Officers failing to bring matters to this committee despite four meetings having been convened since things were revealed.
  • The Ridge Compliance Report compiled by an independent company showing utter failure of the council's monitoring and maintenance of gas, electricity etc was received by a Brentwood council in April 2018 and has been hidden from all councillors, including the recently-resigned chair and vice chair
  • Rent arrear statistics are rising but officers are unable or unwilling to share figures

The Liberal Democrat group has called for a fully independent review, leaving no stone unturned, and to address the fundamental issue of critical matters not being brought before the members of the council.