Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Win-Win For Residents As Reading Council Extends Repairs Service To Wokingham Council Homes

Reading Borough Council, currently led by a  Liberal Democrat -Conservative Coalition has entered into an innovative partnership arrangement with neighbouring Wokingham Borough Council to take over repairs and maintenance of Council housing in Wokingham..

RBC recently agreed to share legal services departments - saving residents in both areas money by improving effciency and use of resources.

This latest step builds on the work that the Council is already doing in relation on housing repairs.

Reading Council has its own in-house Housing Repairs service which is based in Darwin Close off Basingstoke Road.

I have been to meet staff in the service several times and the service they deliver is a credit to the Council and the town.

So how did this new arrangement come about? There are around 2,000 Council Homes in Wokingham which until recently were repaired by a private contractor.

Reading Council came to Wokingham Council's aid after Connaught, the private company providing repairs went into administration last September. Since then RBC has been repairing properties in Wokingham on a temporary basis for some weeks.

This builds on work the Council in Reading is already doing providing emergency cover to Catalyst Housing Group - a housing association which has a large number of properties in the Berkshire.
This new arrangement is good news not only for Council tenants living in Wokingham - who will benefit from a reliable repairs service which is based just down the road but it is also very good news for Reading residents - for the following reasons:-
  • This partnership will generate significant income for the Council in Reading over a three year period
  • This additional income will help make the Council's in-house repairs service more sustainable - safeguarding our excellent repairs service for tenants
  • This extra income will also help the Council in Reading to continue to provide vital services at a time when the Council is facing substantial reductions to its grant from government
  • This will also help safeguard and protect jobs in Reading's Council housing repairs service by providing additional work for a minimum of 3 years
  • Sharing local services will help the Council in Reading to increase buying power and efficiency thereby reducing costs to be borne by local Council Taxpayers
  • If successful, this partnership could be extended so that Reading Council offers repairs services to other local authorities or housing associations
Given the poor relations which are well known to have existed between Reading Labour Party and Conservative-controlled Wokingham Council for many years it is very hard to imagine this arrangement coming to fruition had Labour been running the Council here in Reading.

Labour councillors in Reading regularly put politics before local people when they ran the Council, failing to foster good relations with neighbouring councils which could have led to a better deal for residents.

As a result opportunities for local councils to work together were missed and residents in Reading and neighbouring areas have lost out.

I am delighted that I as an administration we have been able to bring this excellent initiative forward swiftly this year for the benefit of Council tenants and taxpayers in both Reading and Wokingham.

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