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Ealing and Northfield

Privatisation really?

It was good to see the Ealing Today website pick up my story from yesterday about how Ealing’s new Labour administration was seeking to undo the Tory’s housing plans, see here.

It is a shame that they lazily repeated Labour’s use of the “P” word. It seems a strange privatisation where council houses stay in council ownership but their management is passed to specialist, competing not-for-profit organisations who know about housing. Labour’s genius solution is to hire a new army of Town Hall bureaucrats who will have to set up a new organisation from scratch – an expensive solution that will deliver poor results. Ealing Homes is hardly a good precedent.

One of the things I am proudest of doing at Ealing is ensuring that we outsourced the council’s CEO (traffic wardens in old money). This was not out of ideology. It was simply a case of letting a company that is good at the job do the job and reaping the benefits.

In the housing case it was not as if we were even looking at a private sector solution. This is Labour’s first big mistake. One of many I fear. They have only been in power four days. Think how many cock ups they will make in four years.

3 replies on “Privatisation really?”

Phil

Interesting that Ealing Homes was not up to scratch. Is it not the case that the client (in this case the Council) should have had a far more effective trail to remain on top of the contractor’s performance?

In the Labour manifesto it said:

“To return council housing to full council control at the earliest opportunity and end the massive waste and duplication that currently exists with Ealing Homes and the Council’s housing department”.

Were they actually right to say there was massive waste?

Will it also be the case that the Labour party, after they have taken the role back in house, will fail to set up a professional audit trail?

What power does the opposition have to force poor management standards towards better standards? Is it just shouting from roof tops, or are there more effective powers?

How easy is to get audit trails made public?

George,

I have not dealt with many housing cases so I am not the biggest of experts on Ealing’s council housing.

It seems that Ealing’s in-house operation was poor to start with and then got hived off into Ealing Homes without much if any improvement. When it took over the Tory administration worked hard for a couple of years to improve it, indeed the Chief Exec got the boot in the process. This exercise was seen to have not succeeded so it was felt best to wind up Ealing Homes and replace it with competing specialist providers.

Now Labour want to return us to the status quo anti. Their solution is unlikely to lead to a robust customer-focussed service. But, that isn’t Labour’s objective so residents will have to lump it. Get what you are given will be their watchword.

You talk about audit trails. If you search through Cabinet papers you will build up a reasonable picture.

Phil

Very many thanks.

I don’t mean reasonable pictures at high level. I mean a paper evidence trail which shows that A checks that B has checked that C has performed at least to the standards laid down. That is an essential part of maintenance management. So is customer satisfaction testing..

And please don’t say that costs. Either a job is done to professional industry standards, or it is done to cowboy standards.

So what I am asking, and you may not know, is whether the public can get at papers which show that due processes are being followed. You may not know as regards housing but I expect you might know as regards contracts with which you have been involved.

Furthermore this is a really good area for discovering omissions which you could scrutinise if that is what turns you on. Happy voting tomorrow if you can bear it.

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