A 12 point action plan has been revealed by Peterborough City Council to tackle concerns raised by homeless families at St Michael’s Gate.
The council has responded to a number of complaints raised at a public meeting by promising a package of support to all households on the Parnwell estate, as well as to the local GP practice and primary school.
Senior council officials had been told the homes were cold and damp, leading to children becoming ill, while the storage heaters provided were ineffective and costly.
Residents also complained that the managing agents for the properties, Stef & Philips, had not made repairs promptly when notified of problems, while one person queried why there was no gas available.
During the meeting, council service director for community and safety Adrian Chapman told residents: “You are a unique group of people. We need to think of you slightly differently to others. We need to spend a bit more time with you.
“We need to understand your frustrations and ensure a better service. It’s a promise I’m making to you.”
The council currently pays Stef & Philips to lease the properties as temporary accommodation.
The homes had previously been occupied by private tenants who were evicted by housing firm Paul Simon Magic Homes, which owns all of the properties.
Under the new action plan, which the council officers had promised to deliver by the end of the month, tenants at all 72 properties will receive a visit from a council housing team to ask about any issues they might have.
This will include a housing enforcement officer, with any issues discovered sent onto Stef & Philips to be remedied.
Other measures include:
. Providing details of the LEAP scheme which provides advice on energy efficiency, switching energy tariffs, and will demonstrate to residents how to use their storage heaters.
. A dedicated email address for residents to report any property issues (or other matters) and a mobile number for emergencies.
. Housing needs officers visiting once a week.
. Meetings with Parnwell Medical Centre and Lime Academy Parnwell to discuss what support the council can offer. Other local schools will also be contacted.
. Site survey work in the next few weeks to assess the possibility of bringing mains gas to every property.
Sarah Cullen, headteacher at Lime Academy Parnwell, said at last week’s meeting that children from St Michael’s Gate who attend the school need social and emotional help, adding: “Some of the children are suffering from PTSD, but we can’t get them diagnosed or help enough.”
The next public meeting to discuss St Michael’s Gate is scheduled to take place on Monday, November 12 from 7pm to 9pm at the Parnwell Community Centre in Saltersgate.
In February 2017 the PT revealed that the council had handed an enforcement notice to Stef & Philips due to complaints about damp and mould at one of the homes because of inefficient heating and ventilation issues.
Stef & Philips said it had “inherited numerous disrepair problems from the previous managing agent” and had begun making repairs before being instructed to do so by the council.
Further concerns were then raised in January 2018. Subsequent inspections from housing enforcement officers led to repairs to windows and doors, as well as some electrical and external works.