Housing contracts won't be reviewed after safety check failings

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor.

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor. - Credit: Archant

The leader of Norwich City Council has dismissed the need for a review of historic housing contracts after it emerged lives were put at risk by missed safety checks.

In the first of two meetings on Friday about Norwich City Council’s failure to carry out crucial fire, water and electric checks on council properties, Labour councillors dismissed the idea of carrying out a review.  

Earlier this year it was revealed the city council had failed to carry out crucial safety checks on its properties for over five years, potentially putting lives at risk.

Councillors on the scrutiny committee questioned senior cabinet members, including council leader Alan Waters, as well as the senior executive team.  

The Green's Lucy Galvin said scrutiny needs to look at what happened so that it never happens again. 

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Scrutiny committee met on Friday afternoon to discuss missed safety checks - Credit: EDP pics © 2007

Mr Waters responded by saying the council's priority had to be for its tenants now, with the council pledging £2m to help tackle the backlog of safety checks. 

He said: “I think what’s embedded in the report - the recommendations, the funding - does exactly what you are concerned about – ensure that it does not happen again.” 

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Adding: “One can say 'let's do a historical deep dive and find out what’s there'.

"The reality is we know what’s there, we own that as an administration for the shortcomings in compliance.” 

Green Party councillor Ben Price, who chairs the audit committee, praised a shift in the council’s executive leadership team but outlined a series of historic contract concerns the audit committee had raised which he said had been ignored.

The committee made a series of recommendations to cabinet, many of which gained support across the political divide.

Green Party city councillor Lucy Galvin

Green Party city councillor Lucy Galvin - Credit: Contributed

However, Labour councillors dismissed Ms Galvin's suggestion of a historic review.

Ian Stutely said: “This is going to add a number of hours of work and a potential for cost on resources to make this happen.  

“At the moment that is not something I can vote for."  

Ms Galvin responded: “Resources keep being mentioned but I have to point out that it’s going to cost £2m at the moment.  

“It’s a spend-to-save situation.”  

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Waters said the council knew what went wrong and was trying to be transparent with councillors and the public.

"There's been a revamp of our working, it's been a case of looking across our functions which is going to benefit wider functions of the council activity."