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The state of housing repairs in Richmond has been described as “diabolical” by parliamentary candidates vying for seats in the area, with tenants waiting months for repairs. Candidates hoping to represent Richmond Park and Twickenham in the next parliament shared their frustration with the problem and offered their ideas on how to tackle it at an election rally on June 24.

Munira Wilson, who was elected Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham in 2019, faced questions from local residents on housing during the election campaign, alongside Labour’s Philip Moshi, representing Twickenham candidate Tom Bruce, Conservative candidate for Twickenham Jonathan Hulley and Green Party candidate for Richmond Park Chas Warlow. The event was held by local disability charity Ruils at the Masonic Centre in Twickenham and also covered health, social care and special education needs and disabilities.

Asked whether housing associations should be held to account, Ms Wilson described the state of repairs in Richmond as “diabolical” and said she had met regularly with provider Richmond Housing Partnership (RHP) to raise her concerns. She added that she had signed letters to RHP and other providers, as well as Richmond City Council, “outlining the state of repairs and the delays and urging them to improve”.

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York House, which serves as the town hall of Richmond Council in Twickenham, Richmond upon ThamesYork House, which serves as the town hall of Richmond Council in Twickenham, Richmond upon Thames

Richmond City Council discusses its plan to improve social housing – Source: Google Maps

She added: “They have changed contractors, there has been a minor improvement but I still don’t think it is anywhere near enough and I know the council is currently consulting on its five-point housing improvement plan which RHP has signed and will be held accountable for.”

The council’s public consultation on the Social Housing Improvement Plan, which aims to drive improvements in the sector, closes on 30 June. The aim is to put residents’ views at the heart of decision-making, improve services, tackle dilapidation, create well-insulated, sustainable homes and invest in communities.

Sarah Thomas, RHP’s chief executive, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that they would be happy to work with Ruils and local MPs to discuss the issues raised during the election campaign. Ms Thomas said RHP had signed up to the council’s social housing improvement plan and was committed to complying with government regulations to improve services for tenants.

Ruil's campaign on 24 June at the Masonic Centre, TwickenhamRuil's campaign on 24 June at the Masonic Centre, Twickenham

Candidates for Richmond Park and Twickenham faced questions from local residents at the election rally on 24 June – Photo credit: Charlotte Lillywhite

Mr Moshi also described the services provided by RHP as “appalling”, raising particular concerns about the services provided in repairing homes for the disabled. He said he wanted the council to reclaim the powers given to RHP in 2000 when it transferred its entire housing stock to the newly formed organisation to keep tenants “upstairs”.

In public meetings attended by Mr Moshi, he said: “There was a woman who said RHP took three years to fix her shower. They did a poor job, she was constantly put off, and another woman said she missed 10 appointments for her gas boiler because the gentleman didn’t show up… There are also waiting times of two to three months for repairs, (logbooks) say they are finished when they are not.”

Mr Hulley told residents he had supported RHP tenants over the past year, including one family who had been without a shower and working toilet for over a year. He said: “It is disgraceful that there are housing associations in this constituency, and I must name RHP here today, who have failed in their obligations to many, many residents… and when you try to contact them you are met with a wall of silence in terms of customer service.”

Mr Hulley said the state of repairs in Richmond needed to change and the Social Housing Regulation Act passed last year set clear standards forcing housing associations to make improvements. Mr Warlow said the Greens, as the official opposition on the city council, had held the authority to account and he also called for “more pressure” on housing associations such as RHP to make repairs more quickly.

Organisers said they had received no response from the Workers Party, Social Democratic Party, Reform UK or Chris French, who is listed as the independent candidate for Richmond Park, when they invited them to take part in the election. Voters will go to polling stations on July 4 to decide who should represent them.

“We take these concerns very seriously”

Ms Thomas told the LDRS: “As a socially responsible landlord, the safety and wellbeing of our customers is our highest priority and our aim is to work with customers to meet their individual needs, so we take these concerns raised with us by Ruils Independent Living very seriously.

“We had already agreed to meet with the charity’s leadership team as well as representatives from Inclusion London and the Tenant’s Champion of Richmond and local MPs as soon as possible and look forward to rescheduling following their cancellation. We are keen to work in partnership to learn more about these issues so we can ensure they are addressed.

“I would urge our residents to contact us directly as a priority with any concerns regarding repairs or other problems so that we can work with them to find a timely solution.

“As a regulated housing provider, RHP is fully committed to complying with building safety regulations and statutory property compliance measures and implementing the Government’s new consumer standards. Importantly, these standards will drive improvements across the industry to ensure all providers deliver high quality homes and services to their tenants.

“In this context, we are working hard to improve the collection and use of customer data in order to identify different needs and pain points and thus be able to better plan and provide service adjustments for our customers.”

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