The Chairman welcomed Sue Saunders and Sue Dawson who read out the following statement giving their view of the new Residents Involvement Strategy.
“I became an involved Tenant in 2006 the year the Tenant & Leaseholder Customer Panel was formed, a fully constituted committee, with elected members. Formal meetings were held under the leadership of a Chair and Vice-chair. Debates were minuted and votes recorded. The Tenant Representative Group replaced it, its constitution also gave it minutes and recorded votes. The TRG took a closer look at Housing management, unfortunately, some members thought the work too onerous, as Chairs of the Service Review Groups were required to write reports. Then came the TIF, no constitution no minutes and no voting. The only record of matters discussed, an Action Plan. Now the TIF is to be scrapped, leaving in its place The Scrutiny Panel, the Complaints Group, and two SRGs. The Strategy’s answer to this depletion is Focus Groups, Forums and on-line chats.
With this new strategy we will have no meetings where we can come together and discuss the work of each group, just impotent, isolated little groups with no written records and no way to communicate with other tenants in order to gauge their views BEFORE decisions are made.
There is a force growing with-in the Housing Department for meetings to be held via the internet. This new Involvement Strategy is designed to bring that goal nearer. Is this also the way the Council and the Housing Review Board are moving, will full Council meetings be held on Twitter or on-line? No of course not because you know there is no substitute for formalised face to face debate.
I recall a time when tenants were fully involved at all levels. I personally was part of the team responsible for preparations for the Audit Commission investigation. I was on the team that set up the tenant Scrutiny Group and another which set up this Board, of which I was proud to be a founder member. I worked alongside tenants such Ted Brown, Ann Bickham and Victor Kemp, who sad to relate died recently, these people understood the responsibility needed to be a tenant representative. It’s obvious the officers don’t share that view.
Version 3 of the new strategy given to tenants to consult upon is, in Sue’s opinion, an insult to our intelligence. Some wording has obviously been cut and pasted, as evidenced when the text contains the word City when describing East Devon. As far as she is aware there are no cities within the East Devon boundary. This is just an example of the level of importance officers are placing on Tenant Involvement.
The new Residents Involvement Strategy is being described as an EVOLUTION, incidentally, a word I suggested before I became aware of the true nature of the strategy being proposed I would now describe it as a Mutation.
Evolution suggests an improvement, a moving forward. In my opinion this strategy is a giant step backwards.”
Members considered the contents of the refreshed Resident Involvement Strategy and adopting it as fit for purpose for the period 2019/22. The purpose of the report was to ensure our Resident Involvement Strategy is agreed at the highest level and recorded for all to see. It was the result of 18 months of consultation with tenants.
It was noted that the movement to a more internet based approach was designed to improvement the involvement of a younger resident demographic and those less physically able and was essential if the Resident Involvement Strategy was to be fit for the future.
Peter Sullivan, Vice Chairman reported that tenants had been consulted on this issue for 18 months. The younger age and disabled tenants were really struggling to be involved and the new strategy presented a number of opportunities for this to be enhanced. These days there were other ways to communicate other than face to face meetings and we must all work harder at making this happen. The Council needs to modernise and use technology. The new Resident Involvement Strategy would help make tenants more involved.
RESOLVED that the Resident Involvement Strategy 2019/22 be adopted.