Council's previous social housing safety failings on track for progress

Campus East

A report from the Regulator of Social Housing found that WHBC failed to meet its legal requirements for electrical, water, asbestos and fire safety checks. - Credit: Archant

In the wake of serious social housing safety failings by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, the authority said it is on track to be fully compliant with regulations by next March.

In July, a report from the Regulator of Social Housing found that WHBC failed to meet its legal requirements for electrical, water, asbestos and fire safety checks.

The report found 90 per cent of applicable buildings had an overdue fire risk assessment, and “thousands” of remedial actions found in assessments in 2018 had not been acted upon at the time of the report.

The council said it had self-referred itself to the regulator as soon as the issues became apparent.

However, it’s still unclear what caused the problems in the first place and no timescale for an investigation into the failings has been outlined.

During the borough council’s Cabinet Housing Panel on Monday, officers confirmed that they were still on track to hit their target of being fully compliant by March 2022.

Elliot Manzie, the council’s compliance manager, said checks in relation to asbestos, and gas and electric in communal areas have been fully completed.

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He added most checks in relation to water and electric safety had been completed by the end of September.

There were still 214 access issues in relation to electric checks, and 15 blocks yet to complete water checks, but work was ongoing to reach compliance.

These final works relied on access issues to the necessary properties, which are now being addressed.

The council have said they are expecting to meet a later March 2022 target for necessary Fire Risk Assessments. There had been an aim of completing more comprehensive Type 3 Fire Risk Assessments, but Mr Manzie again warned “significant no access issues” may mean this is not possible.

It’s still unclear what caused the failings to be missed by the council, which led to a failed attempt by opposition groups to oust council leader Cllr Tony Kingsbury in September.

Cllr Julie Cragg said: “The investigation is ongoing and whilst we will deal with it as quickly as we can, unfortunately I don’t, as of yet, have a timescale.

“I understand we need the investigation and we need to know the result, but the main thing for tonight is we’ve been open, we’ve been honest and we’ve reassured our residents."

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