Falkirk Council housing repair times improving

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Bosses at Falkirk Council were quizzed on the length of time taken for local authority workmen to do repairs.

A report to the council’s scrutiny committee revealed the time taken to do emergency and non-emergency repairs had reduced.

But Councillor Lorna Binnie said she was constantly receiving complaints about communication with customers in particular.

She said: “I hear too often people coming to me because they have phoned the council that many times and they have not got a response.

“Just as an example, I had a lady promised a new kitchen three months ago and when she phoned up, she was told there was another three months delay.”

Mr Ritchie said he was aware there were problems with communication and reported that current work to integrate the various systems used by the building maintenance division would make it more efficient and effective.

Another problem his department faces, he told councillors, is that 40 per cent of its work every week is dealing with emergencies – which they aim to deal with within three hours – which often take resources away from planned work.

There was some good news, however, as he reported that non-emergency repairs performance has continued to improve throughout the year, with the average time to complete a repair of 7.1 days compared to 8 days last year.

Councillor Allyson Black said: “I am aware that we only hear complaints about tradesmen, and in particular we hear when things don’t work well.

“I’m hearing they have a long wait for tradesmen to do repairs and we can’t recruit tradesmen?

“I think we should be training more young people to be plumbers and joiners and electricians- if there is a national shortage, we should be growing our own.”

Mr Ritchie replied: “We do have a successful apprentice scheme which we have supported for a long number of years and the commitment is there that we will continue to ‘grow our own’.

“The reality is that recruitment is difficult and if you speak to the private sector they’ll tell you the same thing.”