A new grounds maintenance and environmental response service, which was launched on the Byker Estate last month, has already been receiving many plaudits by local residents.
The service is the first phase of a new innovative partnership between two housing associations, Byker Community Trust (BCT) and Isos Housing Group and is being delivered through a cost sharing vehicle (CSV) known as Isos Complete Support.
The partnership aims to deliver high quality services and better value for money for residents living in the iconic Grade II* listed Byker Wall Estate.
Less than a month since the new partnership was announced, residents have already noticed environmental and aesthetic improvements on the Estate with the areas of Raby Cross and Bolam Coyne instantly benefitting from the service.
Eventually, all of the Byker Estate will be improved and maintained including general environmental improvements such as grass cutting, hedge trimming, path edging and weed removal but also grounds maintenance and inspection of play areas and other communal facilities.
The new partnership has also secured two full time jobs for local residents who live in Byker and BCT tenants have volunteered to become grounds maintenance inspectors to ensure the service is delivered to a high standard. The partners are confident it will deliver savings as well as improvements in quality of service and therefore better value for money to tenants.
Byker resident Keith Connelly of Gordon House, said:
“I’ve noticed a big improvement, especially in large open spaces and it has changed the appearance of the Estate. It’s just nice to walk through the Estate and see the grass cut on a regular basis.”
Jill Haley, chief executive of the BCT, said:
“There is a lot of pressure on housing associations to deliver higher quality services to residents at the same time as reducing costs and our new innovative CSV partnership with Isos Housing Group will help us to deliver this.
The BCT’s new ‘Byker Approach’ housing management model will enable us to work much closer with residents and create the opportunity to listen to every person’s views and suggestions on how to improve services, neighbourhoods, whilst making valuable efficiency savings along the way.
Since we launched the grounds maintenance and environmental response service, feedback from tenants living on the Estate has been really positive about their work to date. These are very exciting times for BCT and the changes support our next steps towards delivering our Vision and the stock transfer promises made to tenants.”
Paul Fiddaman, group chief executive of Isos Housing Group, said:
“We were always confident that Isos Complete Support would deliver excellent services to the people of Byker, and now we’re starting to see that come to fruition.
At a time when costs are – rightly – being scrutinised, it’s vital to deliver value for money – while maintaining very high standards.
We believe Isos Complete Support, as a cost sharing vehicle, is blazing a trail for housing providers in our region, and we look forward to a long and successful partnership with the BCT.”
The CSV partnership will eventually see Isos delivering grounds maintenance, environmental services, repairs and maintenance, income management, sheltered housing and other business services on behalf of the BCT. The CSV partnership supplies services to its members, who also include Carlisle-based Two Castles Housing, at open book costs, enabling them to save money as well as VAT on these services.
The second phase for the delivery of the repairs and maintenance service by Isos Complete Support and the transfer of tenancy and estate management services from current provider, Your Homes Newcastle, to the BCT will commence in October.