This article was written for Local View.
All too often local councils think they “always know best”. The accusation is that local authorities seldom consult and have a constructive dialogue with local people and council house tenants. Well, this is certainly not the case with regard to Caerphilly council and their work to upgrade their council houses to meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standards.
The other week I visited a number of council houses in Trecenydd and Bedwas. I have to say that I was enormously impressed with what I saw and heard from the tenants I met. In Trecenydd I visited three properties which the council were modernising. The quality of work with the council and outside contractors was very high indeed and this was also the view of the tenants I met. Not only were they very pleased with the work being done but they were also delighted to be asked about the type of decoration they wanted in their homes.
In fact, one of the really good things about the whole project is the way the council tenants are being involved and consulted every inch of the way. This is a long way removed from the top down approach still beloved by too many local authorities.
If I was impressed by what I saw in Trecenydd, I was also impressed by the work in Bedwas. I visited a council house where the tenant was partially sighted. Her house had been transformed so that her bathroom and kitchen had been specially adapted to make life easier for a visually impaired person. Even the colour scheme and the lighting was specially adapted to help the tenant live more easily and safely. The tenant was “over the moon” with the changes made to her home.
When the tenants of the Caerphilly Borough voted to remain with the council rather than be transferred to a social landlord, there were quite a few who thought they had made a mistake. Judging by what I have seen, I think the tenants made the right decision.