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Norwich council homes re-let faster

PUBLISHED: 20:16 14 December 2011 | UPDATED: 11:16 15 December 2011

Norwich council houses are being re-let faster

Norwich council houses are being re-let faster

EDP pics © 2007

The time it takes to re-let empty Norwich council houses has been cut by more than half, it emerged last night.

Norwich City Council’s cabinet heard it took an average of 16.5 days to move new tenants into the authority’s homes between July and October, against a target of 22 days.

Labour council leader Councillor Brenda Arthur said “huge strides” had been made as the average wait was between 40 to 50 days last year.

People are able to move into council homes sooner as empty properties – known as voids – are now advertised much earlier and viewings take place as soon as the keys come back from the previous tenant, the meeting heard.

But councillor Judith Lubbock, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “It beggars belief that we were not doing that already. We have had this problem with voids for a number of years.

“Now I just worry if these simple steps were not being taken here, then what else have we missed? I just wonder why we were not doing these very simple things that private landlords were doing years ago.”

Councillor Victoria MacDonald, cabinet member for housing, said there were specific houses which had stood empty for long periods of time, which had increased the average.

But she said: “Since the contract has been taken on by Norse, the quality of the work has been much improved. There’s been a significant change owing to the change of contractor.”

Staff were also praised for the council’s overall performance between July and October this year.

But staff shortages meant housing and council tax benefits took 19.2 days to process – 7.2 days slower than expected.

Meanwhile, last night’s city council audit committee was told the delayed 2010/11 accounts should be approved within weeks. Several errors have been noted by the Audit Commission during its review, with the authority being charged at least an extra £51,000 in fees.

Have you got a council-related story for us? Call Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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