HOUSING chiefs controlling 7,000 former council properties have received a mixed inspection report following the intervention of government regulators for the second time.
The Housing Corporation has published a report based on the Chester & District Housing Trust just a month after three regulators were appointed to the trust's board following concerns about its financial affairs.
The report, which details the trust's success following the corporation's second intervention, is now available on www.housingcorp.gov.uk/news.htm
The corporation placed the trust under supervision in February after its chairman and chief executive both resigned through stress.
The trust, which took on Chester City Council's 7,000 homes in 2000, was placed under supervision by its regulator last year after concerns about its viability, only to be taken out of supervision after redrafting a business plan to avert the threat of going bust.
Shortly afterwards, chief executive Geoff Blackburn and chairman Bob Rudd resigned complaining of stress. Mr Rudd, a Chester city councillor, said the pressure he was under contributed to a heart attack.
The corporation placed the trust under supervision for a second time over the way it is run.
Although a new chairman is now in place the trust is still without a chief executive.
Trust bosses say the financial crisis is due to the unforeseen rise in the sale of former council properties which has depleted rent income - and this is reflected in the report.
The report says the trust's financial condition is poor and its viability is in doubt. The association is presently under supervision for breach of the regulatory code.
It also goes on to say that the trust's governing body does not demonstrate effective control of the organisation.
However, the report says the trust's performance generally meets the standard expected given the context in which it is working and the resources at its disposal.
The report also says the trust achieved most of its targets and its shortfall was caused by reasons 'outside the trust's control'.
Explaining why the corporation intervened for a second time, the report says: 'In February 2004 we made three statutory appointments to the board.
'This was done to provide additional expertise and support to the board, particularly in strategic planning, business management and finance.
'The trust has recognised our concerns and is actively seeking solutions. We have agreed an action plan with the trust for resolving our concerns and will monitor progress closely.'
The report adds: 'Performance indicators for 2002/03 show significant improvements on the 2001/02 position.
'Repairs performance is still below national averages due to the backlog of repairs and higher tenant expectations following registration but performance has markedly improved.
'Rent arrears figures continue to be lower than national and comparable averages. We consider that the trust is committed to continuous improvement.
'It has put in place a new approach to best value called Continuous Improvement Activity which includes a five year programme for reviews and improvements.
'The previous process Getting Better programme was not delivering improvements within desirable time-scales.'
In January, the housing trust failed to secure a grant to regenerate run-down flats in Treborth Road, Blacon. Flats in Dinas Close, Penmon Close and Tregele Close were also to be demolished and replaced.
However the corporation will not consider the trust for funding until supervision status has been lifted.