We have delivered, we do deliver and we will deliver: Roddons chief in stern defence of homes record

UNDER fire Roddons Housing Association claims it has delivered on almost every single promise made when it bought Fenland District Council’s 4,000 council homes.

Christopher Smith, group regional operations director for Circle Housing – which includes Roddons- said they had a “superb track record of delivery against all of these promises.

Roddons, he said, had met in full the requirements of the Government’s Decent Homes Standard, supported -via �1million of additional funding- community and voluntary organisations across Fenland and achieved national recognition in 2011 for tenant involvement.

The only promise not delivered, he said, was that of building 500 new homes within the first five years of stock transfer but Roddons had been faced with similar issues to every other housing association.

He said Circle Housing Group had secured funding late last year for 268 new units of affordable housing in Fenland over the next three years.

“No individual local authority area outside of London benefits from this programme to a greater extent that Fenland – with financial resources being transferred from other areas directly into Fenland as a sign of our absolute commitment to meet the 500 unit promise given as part of the transfer back in 2007, albeit to a revised timescale.”

He said Roddons had been “thoroughly and completely transparent at every single stage with Fenland District Council as to the difficulties and challenges experienced in meeting this,” he said.

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They had always up front with the council and the extension to eight years of keeping the 500 homes pledge “was properly and transparently requested of the council and granted in January 2011.”

Mr Smith, himself a former managing director of Roddons, said it was “wholly unreasonable to view the delivery of these new units of accommodation in isolation from the broader national (and indeed global) economic downturn.” These had produced an impact on new affordable housing across the country.

COUNCIL leader Alan Melton told his Cabinet colleagues at Fenland Hall that on social housing provision “we are well below par and I’m not happy but I can’t press a magic button to make these houses get built.

“There are houses in the pipeline but this performance is still not good enough. What we need to do is work harder with our partners to remedy this.”

He said Cabinet colleague Kit Owen had organised a high level meeting for July 13 bringing all stakeholders together.

Cllr Melton said: “We have a long waiting list in Fenland and we also have empty homes which we are looking into but I want to assure people on the waiting list that we are fully aware of the situation. We are not happy and we will take all steps necessary to remedy it.”

Cllr Melton added that there were “well in excess of 200 homes in the pipeline” but warned that it would be months before work was likely to start.

“We are going to pull out all the stops and I’m sure by the time the next annual report is published we will have a better story to tell.

“I’m holding my hand out to the stakeholders, the developers and the housing associations. Come to us, talk to us and we will improve this.”

Cllr Owen said: “I would add that we are not the worst authority in Cambridgeshire.

“I’m hoping it could be closer to 400 homes over the next three years but we just have to wait and see because the banks and the government have got their part to play.”