Following a Housing SPC meeting last Tuesday, Cllr Gerry Warnock (Ind) told those gathered at a Longford Co Council meeting this week that there had been a positive outcome to proceedings.
Speaking to the Leader, he said there were a number of issues, including anti-social behaviour, that had been brought to the fore and a “frank and open” discussion had subsequently taken place.
“We also talked about some of the difficulties that people in local authority housing are experiencing and to the credit of the executive of Longford Co Council, and in particular the Director of Services, John Brannigan, there was an acknowledgement that things weren’t running as smoothly as they should be,” he added, before pointing out that the local authority would not continue running operations in the same manner into the future either.
“There was a firm commitment to meet the issues head on and do what we can do to help resolve them.”
Cllr Warnock went onto admit that while anti social behaviour in some housing estates in Longford town was a problem, the vast majority of people living in local authority developments were “the salt of the earth”.
“Those are the people who pay their rent, take care of their property and are responsible tenants, but unfortunately, like in a lot of other towns, we have a small cohort of people who have absolutely no regard for the property they are in; have a huge sense of entitlement and lack understanding regarding their responsibilities as a tenant in local authority housing.
“In some cases there is no respect either for Longford Co Council as landlords and no respect for the property that they occupy.
“It costs a hugely significant amount of money to refurbish a house and get it ready for another tenant to move in and we have a situation now where houses are not being turned around as quickly as we would like, simply because of the state that we get them back in.”
The local area representative in Longford town went on to say that all these issues were “trashed out” at the SPC meeting and a plan of action to deal with matters effectively and efficiently was now on the cards.
“There are myriad of problems all going in different directions and in fairness to the executive of Longford Co Council, it is also looking now at a better way to run its operations in relation to housing,” added Cllr Warnock, before indicating that the local authority was currently undergoing a procurement process to obtain contractors to build additional houses.
“Going forward we will have a list of approved contractors and part of the tender process conditions will be that those contractors will need to carry out necessary works within a certain time frame.
“If one contractor is not available to do the job, the local authority will move onto the next contractor on the list, and so on.
“So, hopefully that will speed up the turn around on vacant properties.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Warnock also pointed to the Longford Co Council’s policy on housing.
“For the most part if somebody has something wrong with their property, what they should be doing is going to the maintenance section of Longford Co Council - this is after all an executive function and is the responsibility of the Council to get the job done - but unfortunately that function is not running as smoothly as it should.
“If tenants are experiencing problems with their property or are in doubt about what their responsibilities are, or even they can’t access the website, they should immediately contact the maintenance office.
“This would mean that the problems could be dealt with as quickly as possible and allow Longford Co Council to fulfill its obligations as a landlord and in terms of its duty of care to tenants.”
Cllr Warnock also said that he had requested a review of the Tenants Handbook and that process was in motion “as we speak”.
“It’s all about cooperation and everyone working together; I believe we have a very good local authority here in Longford and Longford Co Council is definitely punching above its weight,” he added.
“With regards to the services that are provided within local government, it is very evident that Longford Co Council is taking a very proactive approach and is able to deliver better public services to the people that it represents.”
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