New �6.3m contract to fix Norwich council homes

Families who found work on their homes was left in limbo after the abrupt ending of a Norwich City Council contract to revamp council houses have been reassured the backlog will be cleared now a new contractor has been announced.

The city council today announced that it had struck a �6.3m contract with Bowthorpe-based Foster Property Maintenance for work at the city's 16,000 council homes.

The contract, which will run until the end of March next year, covers heating system upgrades and boilers as well as the Decent Homes scheme which involves upgrading of kitchens, bathrooms, roofing and disabled adaptations.

Some of that work was left undone after a previous contract between City Hall and Lovell came to an end sooner than planned.

Council bosses insisted it was not a case of the authority running out of the money to pay Lovell, but rather that, because of European procurement rules, once Lovell had completed the level of work agreed through the contract, the council could not ask, or pay them, to do any more.

However, the council did then find a way to award Lovell a 10-week contract to keep doing some of that work and to ensure the staff can transfer over to Foster when they start work on Monday, October 17.

Letters to tenants, explaining that a new contractor had been appointed, were due to land on doormats over the weekend and the council said the appointment should mean any remaining backlog can be quickly dealt with.

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Alan Waters, Norwich City Council's deputy leader, said: 'We have worked hard to ensure the change of contractor does not delay the housing maintenance and upgrade programme and that we can deal with any backlog of work quickly.'

The contract with Foster has been made possible after the city council recently joined a local consortium of social housing providers called Eastern Procurement Consortium.

That means they can make use of contracts with Foster that have previously gone out for tender and have been in place for a number of years.

Some of the workers who will transfer across are the same ones who lost their jobs when Connaught Partnerships collapsed last year.

That company had a �17.5m-a-year contract with Norwich City Council to fix and maintain council homes, but went into administration last October.

• Have you got a council-related story? Call reporter Dan Grimmer on 0163 772375 or email