Harrogate Borough Council probably wouldn’t be most people’s perception of a typical public authority – expertly managing, as it does, the fusion of a genteel spa town with a burgeoning hi-tech and thriving business sector, significant tourism levels all year round and one of the UK’s largest conference, event and entertainment centres.
That, and the needs of its 158,000 inhabitants spread across some 500 square miles.
Plenty of lateral and innovative thinking is in evidence within the Property Services function of Harrogate Borough Council’s Housing Service, who currently maintain a housing stock of approximately 4000 properties. Mike Stack, Area Contracts Manager, explained:-
”Harrogate is surrounded by huge metropolitan authorities in West and South Yorkshire, with thousands of housing stock concentrated in particular areas. Ours is spread much more thinly right across the district so we have to think a little differently.”
The core of that thinking is dispensing with supplier contracts and entering into agreements based on performance.
That performance, uniquely, is based largely on tenant feedback which the Council has taken to fairly sophisticated levels…
”It’s not entirely about price,” Mike says, “as clearly there are other considerations when bringing in a new supplier. But the contractor then knows he’ll get regular work based on the feedback and our quality checks.”
Brick-Tie have worked with the council for 10 years, mainly on structural repairs on individual dwellings, but when council surveyors identified wall tie problems with 40 properties in Ripon we were given the task of rectifying the problem…
The result, says Mike, was an unprecedented 100% thumbs up from the residents following completion – particularly unusual he believes, as wall tie work is intrusive and can be dusty and dirty with nothing to see for it in the eyes of the tenants at the end of it all!
”It’s not like we’re fitting them a new kitchen or replacement windows” he says.
Communication was the key. “Tenants were thoroughly briefed by Bryan Hindle and his team throughout the whole process and were invited to ask questions about the work at any time. Brick-Tie even brought in a window cleaner at the end of the work to ensure any residual dust was removed – a touch which delighted the tenants.
We’ve never had 100% satisfaction rating on a project!”
What’s the one thing about Brick-Tie which impresses Mike Stack the most?
”There’s a high degree of honesty within the company” he says “with some companies you sometimes get the impression you’re being told what they think you want to hear. Then you get on site and the operatives don’t have a clue what’s been promised. At Brick-Tie there’s a cascade of communication right through the organisation.”