Wales

Housing repairs by council staff aim to keep Powys tenants happy

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Image caption Powys County Council has about 5,400 council houses

Hiring local workers to cut grass and maintain council houses could increase tenant satisfaction, Powys council bosses have said.

About half of tenants were happy with repairs and maintenance, according to a survey of more than 700 people.

Cabinet member James Evans admitted to delays in fixing problems, as councillors asked why contractors were being hired from outside the county.

Managers say more work is now being done by staff employed by the council.

Just under two-thirds of tenants - 65% - were satisfied overall with housing services, according to the telephone survey by Beaufort Research.

A second survey by the council itself of people who had contacted the housing department with issues gathered 68 responses, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Head of housing Nina Davies told a scrutiny committee: "Both surveys show a level of customer satisfaction below desirable levels.

"The housing service accepts this and has put in place training for customer relations for all staff.

She said a new "Love where you live" approach was taking shape as part of a review of processes at the authority, which has about 5,400 council houses.

Liberal Democrat councillor David Selby from Newtown asked why contractors were brought in from towns such as Dudley in the West Midlands and Aberystwyth for some jobs, rather than staff in Powys.

Tenant services manager Andy Thompson admitted that grass cutting by one contractor had been "awful", and the work would now be done by council staff.

"Those people employed to cut the grass will not be laid off in winter, they will go around doing work like tidying paths and fixing hedges," he added.

"These will be people committed to Powys."

Mr Evans, responsible for housing, said estate management teams were in place to carry out work more quickly and deal with complaints.

"Local caretakers will be able to pop to builders' merchants and pick things up, fix things and it's sorted, rather than having to go through the housing [phone] line asking for this and that to be repaired and having to wait," he said.

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