Comrade Val slams Thurrock Tories “Who have no idea what it’s like to live in a council house”

A WAR of words has broken out between Thurrock Labour and Tories over the growing problem with housing conditions in the borough.

Combative portfolio holder, cllr Val Morris-Cook has gone on the front foot and written a letter to the press defending the record of the council.

However, in the middle of the letter, cllr Morris-Cook accuses the Tory councillors. Cllr Morris-Cook said:
“These tenants’ complaints are being directed to the media at the same time as the department is informed. They’re being directed by Tory councillors who have no idea what it’s like to live in a council house and who stir up more difficulties instead of working with the department to improve their constituents’ lives.

Ockendon councillor, Lynn Carr has replied.

Politically motivated complaints about housing issues are par for the course and to be expected, but it has recently gone too far – I want to make some facts clear.

In January, because of the awful weather, our housing department dealt with 5,700 repair requests. Of those 5,700, there were around 30 complaints – half of one per cent.

This is usual these days since we ended the abysmal and incompetent Tory Morrison contract that only the Tories thought was a good idea – they didn’t listen to us and they didn’t even listen to tenants.

Tories in their comfortable homes think they know best, but as we know one dissatisfied tenant is one too many, these figures do not tell a story of a department in crisis.

Much the same applies to our Transforming Homes programme. Over 90 per cent of tenants whose homes have been involved so far have said their satisfaction rates “fair”, “good”, or “excellent”.

In February, the figure was 97 per cent “good” or “excellent”.

Not the story of a department in crisis.

Thurrock Council is providing its tenants with new kitchens, new bathrooms, new wiring and whatever is needed to ensure our tenants have the best, and we are spending £68 million on our homes to rectify the issues caused by over a decade of neglect.

Not the story of a department in crisis.

Thurrock Council is among the first – if not the only – authority in the country to dedicate money, £2 million, to eradicate damp and mould from its properties; Thurrock is already delivering this.

Thurrock is also leading the country in creating a company, Gloriana, that will build new and affordable homes for local people.

Not the story of a department in crisis.

In addition, Thurrock is ensuring new council homes are built for local people. We have promised 200 a year for five years and we are delivering on that already.

Then there’s the issue of the bedroom tax. Thurrock Council has worked with dozens of families who suddenly found themselves in financial peril because of the benefit changes, helping them to “down-size” and not fall foul of the law.

Not the story of a department in crisis, but one of a department and a council determined to ensure its tenants have some of the best homes in the nation.

Yet what are the newspaper headlines saying? One tenant is not happy. Another tenant has moaned or had a problem. Why are we focusing on this alone?

These tenants’ complaints are being directed to the media at the same time as the department is informed. They’re being directed by Tory councillors who have no idea what it’s like to live in a council house and who stir up more difficulties instead of working with the department to improve their constituents’ lives. Headlines ahead of health is their mantra.

That was made plain at the council tax and rent-setting council meeting when all they did was to try and delay Gloriana and the building of new homes – don’t they want new homes affordable for local people? Obviously not.

They constantly go straight to the media with housing complaints – within minutes of a complaint being made to the council. This doesn’t speed up reaction time, if anything it slows it down as staff who should be dealing with the problem are kept busy trying to look at the history and liaising with the communications team.

While the council works to make people’s lives better, it seems clear that Thurrock’s Tories are working to return to their six years of neglect and laziness.

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