It is now nearly 4 months since Westminster Conservatives decided, belatedly, to follow Labour’s pre-election promise to scrap City West Homes. We warned that this would not be a ‘quick-fix’, such are the deep-seated problems which have rendered City West Homes a totally failing organisation.
But we did expect some small improvements. Sadly, as the 40 cases in our latest report demonstrate, City West Homes’ performance has actually got worse, not better.
On top of the usual catalogue of botched repairs, phones not answered, emails ignored and other failures, we now have a major car-parking fiasco on Council estates all across Westminster. Residents bought parking permits in the expectation that those without permits will not be able to park on their estates. The opposite has turned out to be the case, with non-residents who have paid nothing parking all over, including on double yellow lines, clogging up the estate roads and blocking the path of emergency vehicles. There is no effective parking enforcement. City West Homes has failed totally.
Westminster Conservatives appear to have no ‘plan of action’ to deal with the depths to which City West Homes has sunk. Senior staff have left, interim managers have been brought in an attempt to ‘trouble-shoot’ solutions. But there is no sense of direction to City West Homes’ and the City Council’s efforts.
Too many tenants and leaseholders continue to receive a third-rate service. Basic service delivery remains a serious issue. Communications continue to be sub-standard. Consultation appears to be tokenistic. And political will looks paper-thin.
Labour Councillors welcomed the Council’s U-turn in scrapping City West Homes. But simply borrowing Labour’s ideas will not fix the problem. The Council needs long-term political commitment to improve housing services for Westminster’s 22,000 tenants and leaseholders.