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The housing repairs and maintenance service provided by Carmarthenshire CC is 'fair with promising prospects for im...
The housing repairs and maintenance service provided by Carmarthenshire CC is 'fair with promising prospects for improvement', according to an independent report published by the Audit Commission in Wales.

The service was originally inspected in February 2001 when the Audit Commission inspection service concluded that the service was a poor service. The report now being published refers to a recent re-inspection of the service.

Molly Lewis, head of performance at the Audit Commission in Wales, said: 'Our inspectors are very pleased with the positive action taken by Carmarthenshire CC over the last two years to improve its housing repairs and maintenance service. Since its last inspection the council has implemented significant improvements and has demonstrated new and innovative ways of service delivery. Consequently tenant satisfaction levels have risen.

'Prospects for further improvements to the service are promising. However, some weaknesses which were highlighted in our last inspection have yet to be addressed, including implementing a cyclical painting programme and introducing a new schedule of rates. These and other issues need to be urgently addressed if continuous and sustainable improvement is to be attained in the future'.

The inspection report highlights a number of positive features:

- There are clear aims and targets for the service

- A comprehensive tenant satisfaction survey is being used to improve services

- There are good arrangements for receiving repairs requests from tenants through the repairs service centre

- Emergency repairs are carried out quickly in most cases

However, inspectors found that there are a number of significant areas where the service requires further improvement. For example:

- Time taken to complete non-urgent repairs is poor

- There are inconsistencies in service delivery

- There is no appointment system for responsive repairs

- The council is not meeting its obligation to service all gas appl iances annually

- There is no cyclical redecoration programme

Inspectors believe that the service has promising prospects for improvement because:

- The council has demonstrated that it is serious about improvement and has implemented some significant changes since the last inspection

- There are clear processes for the improvement plan to be regularly monitored by the scrutiny committee

- The housing management board provides an opportunity for tenants to monitor progress on the improvement plan and challenge those responsible for delivering it

- Staffing capacity is being increased to focus on key issues for improvement, for example, the appointment of a tenant liaison officer

Recommendations to help improve the service include:

- Insuring that tenants become more fully involved in determining future maintenance programmes

- Developing a wider suite of performance information which is regularly reported to managers

- Ensuring that inconsistencies in levels of service are minimised

- Taking urgent steps to address weaknesses in budget management

Carmarthenshire's housing repairs and maintenance service is responsible for the repairs and maintenance of all the councils 10,577 properties, including responsive, planned and cyclical works. The budget for the service in 2002-03 is £12,451,231.

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