At a meeting of Tower Hamlets Council (21st January 2015), the Labour Group introduced a motion calling on the Mayor to suspend Circle Housing Group as a Preferred Development Partner in Tower Hamlets and also calling on the Mayor to explore options for legal proceedings against Circle Housing Group.
Old Ford Housing Association, a subsidiary of Circle 33 Housing Trust, was established in 1998 as the successor body to the Tower Hamlets Housing Action Trust and was accountable to its own Board of tenants, leaseholders and independent members.
Circle Housing - an amalgamation of Circle 33, Anglia Housing and other housing associations - required Old Ford to terminate its Repairs & Maintenance contract with Mears and Major Works contract with Apollo to sign up to a new group-wide contract with Kier. The performance of this contractor has been poor in the 15 months since then, with residents having to wait up to an hour to get through to the repairs line, high levels of repeated missed appointments, and serious and dangerous repairs outstanding for weeks.
The Labour Group motion states that ‘by terminating the contract with Mears, Circle Housing Group has undermined Old Ford’s ability to provide an adequate Repairs & Maintenance service, resulting in “Serious Detriment” to its residents’ and calls on the Mayor to ‘suspend Circle Housing Group as a Preferred Development Partner.’
Cllr Rachael Saunders, Leader of Tower Hamlets Labour Group, said:
“There have been promises from Circle Housing Group that an action plan is in place; however most of the works required are severely overdue.
Labour is standing up for local residents and we will continue to push Lutfur Rahman to give residents the support they deserve. There is a clear picture of a failure of local delivery: from Tower Hamlets Homes leaseholders not getting a fair deal, through to the issues with Circle Housing. Tower Hamlets deserves better.”
Cllr Amina Ali, who introduced the motion, said:
“Since Circle Housing Group required Old Ford to change contracts, the standard of its programme has seen a dramatic decline and this is something that residents frequently bring up.
We cannot have sub-standard repairs and unhappy residents – that’s why I introduced the motion calling on Lutfur Rahman to fully explore options for legal proceedings against Circle Housing Group.”
Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green & Bow, said:
“I’m deeply concerned about developments regarding the Circle Housing Group and the wider issue of housing in the borough. It is clear that the Council administration is failing and residents across Tower Hamlets are bearing the brunt of this failure. The Labour Party will continue to fight to deliver fairer housing both locally and nationally and I urge the Council to think long and hard about how it might do the same."