Monthly Archives: October 2011

Bolton at Home welcome blog

Welcome to the Bolton at Home blog.

I write this blog as we approach the half year mark of life as a housing association, having successfully taken ownership of Bolton Council’s 18,000 homes in March of this year following a tenants’ ballot.

We have experienced what can only be described as a smooth transition with over 80 per cent of tenants signing up to the new Bolton at Home, completing and returning their Tenancy Agreements by the June deadline.

The transfer process was by no means easy, but it is now that the real hard work begins as we work to deliver £124 million of improvements to homes and estates in the borough over the next five years.

In partnership with Bolton Council and our stakeholders, we will also work to improve the social and economic conditions of the communities where our houses are located, as well as other disadvantaged areas in the Bolton borough.

Our commitment to our customers and the town is now stronger than ever. Over the coming years we will continue to drive efficiency and take measured risks, ensuring we deliver our pre ballot promises.

As a former arms length management organisation (ALMO), we’re in a very strong position to deliver on the promises made in our pre ballot offer to tenants. We’re further committed to making a positive impact on the social housing sector in the borough and beyond, which is reflected through our innovative delivery of our service and sustainable initiatives.

The Bolton at Home blog will include contributions from the whole team where we will share our thoughts and expertise on issues relating to the business, our stakeholders and the social housing sector.

We’re keen to hear what you think about anything we’ve blogged about, or what you’d like to see Bolton at Home doing more of in the future.

Thanks to everyone for your support over the last six months and here’s looking to a very bright and positive future ahead.

Jon Lord

CEO Bolton at Home

Right-to-Buys

It’s been an interesting few weeks for our Regeneration team. We’ve just agreed terms on two properties that were previously sold under the ‘right-to-buy’ programme which we’re now going to be buying back under the new ‘affordable rent’ framework.

I know it’s only two houses, but it feels significant because it will hopefully be the start of many, and it gives us a way of dealing with some nuisance properties on estates, as well as helping to increase the amount of affordable rented homes for families in Bolton who need them.

Unfortunately, although the new development funding is a good thing, every yin has its yang, and it does mean setting up new procedures and processes to deal with this new area of work.

So, I’ve been working with people in other Bolton at Home departments and, as well as Great Places Housing Group who lead the consortium that we’re part of, to get some of that set up.

Bureaucracy is not my strong point so I’ve been having one or two head-scratching moments!

Gwen Crawford – Director of Regeneration

The economy and its impact on housing services

Fixing the Roof

The economy and its impact on housing services

It’s a really challenging time in the social housing sector, which in turn is affecting Housing Services. The changes in the economy have presented us with some real questions about the services we provide, and how we provide them.

There’s no doubt now that most ordinary people are going to suffer cuts to their living standards for some time to come and that this impact is going to be felt by those with least, most of all.

The big question for Bolton at Home Housing Services is, how are we going to respond?  We have the options of burying our heads in the sand and hope it all goes away or we can look at where the real pressure points are and try to do something about it.

On reflection then, there is only one road to go down.

The real bonus for us is that following the transfer of Bolton at Home from an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) to a housing provider we have, for the first time in a while, some real stability in our budgets. This stability will help us with our planning, and will give us a real opportunity to support our tenants, partners and the wider community in Bolton during these difficult times.

In particular, in regard to our own services, we know we have to up our game in a number of areas, whilst at the same time making sure we continue to improve on the bread and butter services such as collecting the rent, which pays for pretty much everything we do, tackling anti-social behaviour, letting properties and making sure tenancies are effectively managed.

It’s a big agenda, but we believe we’ve got a track record of delivering innovations any Housing Services Team would be proud of and we’re looking forward to now stepping up a gear and creating a range of services that mean when our tenants need our support, we’ll be there.

Between now and the delivery on this there will be a lot of hard work for everyone involved but the commitment and the ability is here so there really isn’t anything to stop us.

John Dunn – Deputy Director of Housing Services

Regeneration team welcomes new members

Houses on a street

Regeneration team welcomes new members

The Regeneration team has two new members of staff to welcome. Firstly, welcome to Danielle Porter who will be working from our Tonge Moor urban care and neighbourhood (UCAN) centre. I think Danielle will be a great asset to the team and I know she’ll get the warmest welcome within Regeneration.

The second new starter I want to welcome is Dominic Conway, who is Regeneration’s new Assistant Director (Development & Renewal). Just call him ‘Oy!’ if the title seems too long.

Dominic has come from Bolton Community Homes and he brings with him a fantastic range of experience. He’s going to be responsible for delivering Bolton at Home’s new-build development programme across the borough. If any of our new houses fall down soon after they’re built – you’ll know who to blame!

Welcome to the Bolton at Home team.

Gwen Crawford – Director of Regeneration

A picture paints a thousand words at community art exhibition

The Mayor of Bolton, Councillor Noel Spencer has officially opened an exhibition displaying the works of a group of amateur artists from the Willows Estate, Deane.

The exhibition is on display at the Deane Urban Care and Neighbourhood Centre (UCAN),Oriel Street, and is the culmination of a free 12-week introduction to fine art course which the local residents have completed.

Launched by Bolton at Home, the community project saw budding Picassos from the area work with local artist, Lyndis Ann Harden, to brush up on their drawing and painting skills and delve into the world of fine art.

The exhibition is a celebration of what local residents have achieved. The residents told us that they wanted art workshops, so they started a creative spark for the area which we have been delighted to nurture through the ‘Willows Hand on Art Group’.

Although the course has now ended, the exhibition will run at Deane UCAN for the coming months. The residents have since set up an independent art group and will continue to meet each week to continue their art.

The final pieces will be exhibited at Deane UCAN, Oriel Streetfor the rest of the year. For budding artists looking to join the group, contact Dawn Yates-Obé, dawn.yates-obe@boltonathome.org.uk, 01204 333 723, or come along to join the group at the Willows Centre, Back Caledonia Street, Deane on Wednesday’s 10am-12noon.