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The housing repairs and maintenance services provided by South Gloucestershire Council are fair and have promising ...
The housing repairs and maintenance services provided by South Gloucestershire Council are fair and have promising prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

The inspection team gave the service one star because tenants' homes and estates are generally in good condition, services are easily accessed through area housing offices and there is a high degree of tenant satisfaction with the service.

Jacqueline Canham, lead housing inspector for Southern Region said:

'We found the council has worked with tenants and councillors to challenge the existing service, and to work out ways to make improvements. It has used the best value review to identify weaknesses in the service, and has produced an action plan to address those weaknesses. The council could have done more to test the competitiveness of the in-house direct services department to make sure that it is providing tenants with the most cost-effective service possible.'

The inspection report highlights a number of key strengths:

* The council re-lets empty properties quickly - it is among the top 25% performing council's for average re-let times in the country

* Properties are let in good and clean conditions, with tenant representative groups playing a greater role in setting standards for these properties

* Non-urgent repairs are completed quickly - on average in 16 working days

However a number of aspects require further attention:

* The percentage of emergency repairs being completed within target times is poor

* The lack of a robust appointments system leads to numerous abortive visits by operatives

* The lack of publicly available information, on the repairs and maintenance service, from area housing offices and one stop shops

To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including:

* Ensure that up to date information on the service is on display for visitors to all of the council's service points - area housing offices and one stop shops

* The council should address the backlog of annual gas safety checks.

* Ensure that the full implementation of a comprehensive appointment system remains a key priority and that tenants are made fully aware of progress

South Gloucestershire's best value review covered all aspects of the repairs and maintenance service, excluding the out of hours service. The specific operations covered by the review were the daily response repairs and voids service, planned improvements and cyclical maintenance, mechanical and electrical servicing and installation works.

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