A New Year message from our Chief Executive

Published:
CityWest Homes logo

As we enter 2018 I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year and provide you with an update on what we’re doing to provide you with better services and make sure you feel safe in your home.

In 2017 we made a number of changes across our organisation to improve on the way we deliver our services to you. This was following feedback from you about how you would like us to operate. As with any change; we have met challenges and I wanted to take this opportunity to apologise if you have been in any way affected by this. We take the quality of our services very seriously and recognise that at some points throughout last year our level of service was not good enough, so I wanted to reassure you that we are working hard to improve further.

Customer services

One of the things you told us you wanted is for your queries to be resolved first time whether it is online, on the phone or face to face. As a result, we launched our customer services centre to provide you with one number for any enquiry about your home or estate. Since the customer service centre launched we recognise that there have been waiting times that have been longer than acceptable and as a result we have taken on more staff and whilst we have already seen a reduction in waiting times, we will continue to focus on improving this further. As we make these changes you can track our progress on a weekly basis.

Alongside our new customer service centre, we worked with resident groups to update our website to provide better information and secure online services and in 2018 we will develop these further to allow you to check and manage your own account. In addition, we launched regular drop-in sessions across our estates and made sure we are providing home visits for those who need them most.

Repairs and major works

Following your feedback on how you wanted repairs and major works delivered, we appointed new long-term contractors to provide you with a higher quality service as well as employment and apprenticeship opportunities for Westminster residents.

Since our new repairs contracts started in September, there have been issues with slow response times and missed or late appointments. This is not acceptable and we are working closely with the contractors to guarantee all repairs appointments are kept and that you are kept up to date with the status of your repair. This includes text message alerts and a phone call to let you know when the operative is on the way.

We hope that you have already seen an improvement in this service, but recognise that there is still work to be done and we will continue to focus on this as a priority. For example, we recognise how much damage and disruption can be caused by leaks, one of our most commonly reported types of repairs. As a result, we have set up a special leak detection team to guarantee maximum efficiency when locating and repairing leaks, which will be in place from February.

To help us ensure that your repairs are carried out easily and to the highest standard, please make sure you are at home at the time of your appointment, or let us know if you will not be in. We need your most up to date contact details to keep you updated on the status of your repair, if we ask you to confirm your phone number, email address or general contact preferences please help us to ensure that they are up to date so we can keep you better informed.  

In order to prioritise repairs we will make sure that if your repair is an emergency it will be responded to within 24 hours and if it poses an immediate health and safety risk it will be responded to within two hours. If your repair is not an emergency but urgent we plan to respond within three working days and any other repairs up to 20 working days.

Fire safety

We have been working to review all aspects of safety in the home following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower.
We have removed Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding from the six buildings on the Warwick and Brindley estates. Whilst this was not the same material as the cladding on Grenfell Tower, these were the only buildings we manage which had cladding that failed specialist testing by central government, and we are one of the first authorities in the country to have taken action to remove it and plan to replace it with a product that is of the highest rated standard of this type.

We have worked with independent consultants to complete the highest possible level of fire risk assessments within the 21 buildings over 10 storeys with enclosed communal areas and will undertake any recommended improvements and will be updating residents in individual buildings over the next two months.

A review of fire doors across 250+ buildings of six storeys and above has also been commissioned and will begin to be carried out in the next few months. Following Westminster City Council’s announcement to retro-fit sprinklers in buildings of 30 metres and above we have arranged for an independent survey together with recommendations for sprinkler installment and these will be presented to the Council at the end of this month, with next steps to be updated in February.

We will also continue to work closely with the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the government department responsible for housing, and take on and enact any recommendations they or the independent review on fire safety provide.

Talk to us

We appreciate your feedback so we can continue to make improvements and I encourage you to come and talk to us face to face at our Open Door event at Porchester Hall on 31 January from 2pm – 7.30pm. This free event is one of our biggest to date and is open to all residents across Westminster. It is an opportunity for you to find out about the services we provide and talk to our teams, contractors and key partners in person. To be in with a chance of winning an iPad or fitness watch register your interest.

Further updates on our services will continue to be provided in City Voice, our e-mail newsletter. You can sign up for City Voice or view it here, or pick up a copy of the magazine at one of our area service centres.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Cowie

Chief Executive, CityWest Homes