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Out and about with Carol - June 2023



First off was Attenborough Court, a short hop across the road from Bushey Station. On site I met with Madalina Fieraru one of our new Neighbourhood Officers; Jessica Palmer, one of our experienced Neighbourhood Managers and Terry Flynn, also new as Estate Services Team Leader.

I’d decided to visit after being contacted by a shared owner about security concerns at the site, with doors being vandalised and someone sleeping in the lobby and him feeling that we were not acting swiftly or effectively enough to deal with the problem, and in addition that they may be expected to pay for repeated repairs to broken locks.

We met with the resident who whilst frustrated, was keen to work with us to resolve the issues and grateful for the action plan that the Home Ownership Manager, Mohammed Karim had now produced and shared. There had recently been a solution found to the door to his block but a walk round revealed other insecure doors as well as other repair issues including ceiling tiles having been missing in the basement and the ground floor of one block for a very long time. We agreed that anything missing from the action plan would be added, with a clear focus on delivering to timescales and residents kept informed.

Jess then kindly drove me over to visit Birch Court in Welwyn Garden City and we had a lovely catch up on the way. Once there I met with Neighbourhood Manager, Agnita Henry (also quite new to Origin); Tom Pereira, Surveyor; Ian Smith, Senior Facilities Operative; Colin Evans, Estate Services Team Leader; Sarah Baxter, Gilmartins Contract Manager and Ben, a Gilmartins operative.  Birch Court is a large scheme of over 200 homes next to the local hospital and built around 15 years ago.

I was visiting following a ‘meet and greet’ conversation with Agnita and complaints from a long standing resident about a range of issues in the block. A walk around and chat with our resident highlighted a number of concerns. He had lived there for 12 years and loved his flat, but had seen a sharp deterioration in security, a big rise in ASB including drug use/dealing and noise nuisance, inadequate refuse storage and collections and lack of parking enforcement. Cyclical works – to address internal decoration and floor covering - were also needed. Our resident was as frustrated as the person I had met earlier at Attenborough Court, but equally keen to work with us positively to resolve the issues.

There was good news via Ian that the door entry system to the whole block was due to be renewed starting the following week. In addition though, we discussed the need for more on site presence and a clear agreed action plan for resolving the issues.  After saying goodbye to our resident (not before finding out he and I had grown up in the same part of Hackney at more or less the same time!), Tom also talked through with me problems with blocked gutters and uncoupling of drain pipes, drain blockages, rising damp, ground slippage and roof leaks and what he had done so far to address the issues and what was needed next.

Clearly there are very real challenges in terms of high levels of demand, stretched finances and a difficult operating context in terms of social change, but the common theme in terms of how we respond is about the need to make sure that people work together across Origin to deliver the results our residents need, listening to and acting on their priorities and ideas for improvement, keeping them informed and involved along the way and being open, honest and realistic.