CityWest Homes plans major estate office closures

CityWest Homes-the organisation that runs Westminster Council’s 21,000 council and leasehold homes is planning massive cuts to its network of estate offices in local communities across the city.

Under plans set out to councillors this week it seems that CityWest Homes are looking to close almost all of its free-standing estate offices, leaving only the four area service centres remaining. This is part of a service redesign aimed to cut over £5million in costs and encourage more people to use online and phone services. CityWest have confirmed that they plan to close six estate offices at Church Street, St John’s Wood, Little Venice, Westbourne Park, Paddington Green and Charlwood Street.

Westminster Labour Councillors are opposed to these massive cuts to CityWest’s presence in local communities. While many residents may not use the office all the time it is important to know it is there when needed, and there remains a significant proportion of residents who either lack regular internet access or whose lack of confidence communicating in English makes phone or internet contact more difficult. CityWest Homes says that it wants to see staff spend more time out and about on our estates, yet basing them all out of centralised area service centres will see staff spending time further from the communities they are supposed to be managing. CityWest have talked about possibly holding drop in sessions or surgeries in areas hit by the cuts to estate offices. However this will not be enough to deal with the needs of vulnerable residents looking for face-to-face contact with their housing officers when they need it.

Westminster Labour will stand with local residents who want to fight to save their local estate offices that are valued by their local communities. If estate offices are ultimately closed, Westminster Labour are demanding that CityWest Homes and Westminster Council ensure that they are replaced by a permanent base for estate teams to work from in a nearby community building that is both accessible and has a staff member present to assist resident enquiries. Furthermore CityWest must commit to protecting the future of the residents halls whose operation may be hit by the cuts to estate offices.

Labour Group Leader Cllr Adam Hug said “These drastic estate office closures are yet another sign of the retreat of council services from our local communities. Many of our estate offices are a valued part of the community and in particular older and more vulnerable residents would really feel their loss. CityWest Homes and Westminster’s Conservative Council need to think again.”

Shadow Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr Tim Roca said “Shutting offices which had over 13,500 visits in a nine month period last year alone, before having a website fully functioning and ready is only one among a number of concerns we have with the closure and redundancies envisaged by these proposals. It is clear these cuts are being foisted on CityWest Homes by Westminster’s Conservative Council, and there needs to be much more time spent listening to what residents need rather than what the Council wants.”

Sign the petition on Estate office closures here http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/estateoffices/

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This entry was posted in Affordable Housing, City West Homes, Council housing, Estate Office. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to CityWest Homes plans major estate office closures

  1. Terry Ward says:

    Hallfield Estate had their estate office closed about a year ago it now lays derelict and an eyesore, the housing officers now hide behind their computer screens at 155 Westbourne terrace never to venture onto the estate again, phone calls to 155 are met by “there is nobody here to take your call”
    ” can’t you deal with the situation” or “All our lines are busy at the moment followed by the music before being cut off” and if you do get through they pass the query onto another authority
    The housing officers serving Hallfield and street properties has been cut and the new officers are unknown to the estate
    Even communication by notices on the notice boards or general letter drops does not happen
    We have a residents hall that is very rarely used and could be used for an occasional drop in centre this was tried by Pinnacle on one occasion but they forgot to turn up
    Residents who go to 155 Westbourne Terrace with a query are met by the receptionist who and that is far as they get the rest of the staff hide behind the heavily frosted glass screens hiding before their computer screens
    Lately there has been two residents who have past away, one had lain in his flat for a few weeks and the police had to force entry, one resident who phoned 155 about the smell was told it is more than likely a dead rat down the drain, to date no CWH people have been seen at either flat
    The only good thing I can say is we have a fantastic team of gardeners and cleaners who work very hard even though there numbers have been cut and more work put on them

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