LIB DEMS RAISE CONCERNS OVER YHN CONCIERGE REVIEW FOR TOWER BLOCKS

March 19, 2009 12:01 AM

A senior Liberal Democrat councillor has written to housing bosses to lobby for the continuation of concierge services.

Greg Stone, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East, has written to Your Homes Newcastle chief executive John Lee to ask him to ensure that concierge services are maintained in tower blocks operated by the arms length organisation.

A review is currently underway into the future of the service, and tenants have raised concerns that an option which would replace on-site staff with a 'call-out' service and communications link may be under consideration.

Since concierge systems were introduced at tower blocks including those at Shieldfield, Heaton Park Road, Walkergate, and Walker, residents have expressed satisfaction with the service, which has helped to dramatically reduce anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime within tower blocks, as well as dealing with general caretaking and cleaning issues.

It is understood however that the service requires a subsidy of several million pounds a year to operate.

Greg Stone said: "I fully understand that Your Homes Newcastle need to regularly review the performance of their services, and I acknowledge that the concierge service has a high cost in terms of staff cover which is not currently being met by the service charge to residents who benefit.

"I am not convinced it would be helpful to introduce an off-site concierge system that would inevitably have a slower response time to any problems. The concierges are extremely valuable in ensuring security and peace of mind for residents and addressing anti social behaviour.

"I hope that YHN's board and management will take this into account and do all they can to ensure the service is maintained at a level that provides important reassurance to tenants.

"I am also concerned that a move to an off-site monitoring system will lead to significant staff cuts."