Tenant Participation and Engagement in Badenoch & Strathspey hailed a success

affordable housing

Highland Council’s Tenant Participation Team is working with ten interested tenants in Badenoch & Strathspey who have said they would like to be more involved in all aspects of their tenancy.

Members warmly welcomed a report on tenant and customer engagement presented to the Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee today.

Principal Tenant and Customer Engagement Officer, Mandy MacLeman, said: “The work we have been doing on tenant participation in Badenoch and Strathspey gives tenants the opportunity to put forward their priorities for improvements to the areas they live in and make sure investment is targeted at community priorities.”

Mums in Grantown on Spey are interested in setting up a fenced-off grassy area for the younger children to play with their outdoor toys safely and the local Tenant Participation Officer is working with them to set up a small group to achieve this.

Tenants from Beachen and Dulaig Court have expressed an interest in setting up a Gardening Group to beautify an overgrown communal area. They are keen to take responsibility for the maintenance of these bushes and shrubs and will also be supported by the Tenant Participation Officer.

Tenants from Beachan Court were unhappy about the location of their bin store. The Tenant Participation Officer carried out a consultation with all tenants and the bin store has now been relocated to their preferred location.

Another innovative approach being rolled out in the area are the ‘Rate your Estate’ walkabouts, where tenants are invited to join Tenant Participation Officers, Council staff and elected members to inspect their estate.

Mandy MacLeman commented: “In 2019, ‘Rate your Estate’ walkabouts were held in Beachan & Dulaig Court; Collie Cottages and Kinveachy Gardens; Coppice Court; Mackenzie Crescent; Milton Park and Woodburn Place. Twenty-two tenants were involved in these.

“A number of estate improvements were identified. These included improving the standard of weedkilling and grass cutting and tackling abandoned vehicles and fly tipping. Many of the identified works have been completed and the tenants involved have been notified in cases where work is awaiting budget approval.”

Further walkabouts will be scheduled for Spring/early Summer and a copy of proposed dates will be circulated to all Ward 20 Elected Members.

Convener of Highland Council and Chairman of the B&S Area Committee Cllr Bill Lobban said: “It is really good to see the huge improvement in the way we are engaging with our Council House tenants in Badenoch & Strathspey. The Tenant and Participation report highlights how we can really make a difference if we just take the time to listen and I feel that other Area Committees will find this really beneficial.”

Tenant engagement has also been involved in Senior Safe Highlander Events, which are aimed at older tenants and residents and how they can stay safe, well and connected within their communities.

Events are held in partnership with NHS, Highland Senior Citizens Network, Trading Standards, Police Scotland and Highland & islands Fire & Rescue Service. A Senior Safe Highlander event held in Kingussie in 2019 was attended by around 30 tenants and further events are planned for Grantown and Aviemore in 2020.

Supported by the Tenant Participation Team, Aviemore sheltered housing tenants and Glen Centre users met in July 2019 to share ideas for improving and maintaining the communal gardens in the area. The local community Police Officer also gave a talk on how to stay safe and report any concerns using the appropriate number.

Following up on some reports of instances of anti-social behaviour raised at the meeting Police Scotland carried out a crime prevention survey of the area and made some recommendations to both The Highland Council and The Glen Centre.

New higher gates have since been erected at either end of the path way between Collie Cottages and The Glen Centre. The memorial bench was also repositioned outside the gates to deter anti-social behaviour.

Both Kingussie High School and Aviemore Primary have agreed to talk to the pupils regarding antisocial behaviour and are keen to work together with the Sheltered Housing tenants and The Glen Centre on a garden project in the future.

The team has also been visiting tenants to speak about the recently announced Rent Consultation. As part of the Highland-wide Rent Consultation road trip in November 2019, the Tenant Participation Team visited Aviemore and Grantown tenants in their homes to discuss the rent setting in Council houses for 2020-2021. Tenants in other parts of Badenoch and Strathspey were contacted directly by telephone.

Tenant Forums have also been set up and are made up of representatives from Registered Tenant Organisations, representatives of informal groups and individual interested tenants. They meet quarterly to discuss topics such as the Capital Programme, Housing Performance reports and Budget monitoring reports.

There are currently two established Tenant Forums in Highland; one representing Caithness, Sutherland and East Ross and one representing Inverness. There is also a “fledgling” forum in Lochaber. The aim is to have a tenant Forum in each area but until there is sufficient interest in Badenoch and Strathspey to take this forward, tenants are encouraged to attend the Inverness Forum.

In the comprehensive Customer Satisfaction survey carried out in late 2018 Badenoch and Strathspey returned higher satisfaction rates in all five question areas than the Highland average.

The Highland Council recently took part in the Scottish Government “Next Steps” programme, delivered by Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) Scotland, to review its Tenant Participation and Engagement. Participants in this programme were Highland Council staff and tenants from across Highland.

Mandy said: “One of the messages which came across very strongly from tenants was that face to face contact with tenants was the most effective way to encourage engagement. Over the coming year the Tenant participation team will focus on face to face contact with as many tenants in as many areas as possible.”

Badenoch and Strathspey - Customer Satisfaction Survey – September 2018

There were 77 responses received.

Taking everything into account, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the housing services provided by Highland Council? - 50.65% were Highly satisfied

Overall, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the quality of your home? - 40.62% were Highly Satisfied and 38.96% were Fairly Satisfied

Overall, how satisfied / dissatisfied are you with The Highland Council’s Housing Service’s management of the neighbourhood you live in? - 37.50% were Very Satisfied and 40.28% were Fairly Satisfied.

How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with opportunities given to you to participate in the Highland Council Housing Service’s decision-making processes? - 29.87% were Very Satisfied and 33.7% were Fairly Satisfied

How good or poor do you feel the Highland Council Housing Service is at keeping you informed about their services and decisions? - 36% were Very Satisfied and 40% were Fairly Satisfied.

12 Feb 2020
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