Concerns over poor state of Yarmouth's council housing

Aerial photos of Norfolk. Great Yarmouth River Yare and Quay
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The poor state of council housing in Yarmouth has been laid bare by the local authority's latest report - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2008

The poor state of council housing in the Great Yarmouth area has been laid bare by a new report outlining how improvements are needed at a number of properties. 

Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC) maintains 5,766 homes across 341 sites and has recently completed its latest six-monthly review into whether its housing stock is up to standard.

The latest report found that while the authority was fully up to standard when it came to customer service and tackling anti-social behaviour, the quality of the housing itself, and the provision of repairs and maintenance, was overall “non-compliant”.

In terms of keeping up with repairs and maintenance, the council’s rating has worsened from “improvement required” in November 2021 to “non-compliant” in June 2022. 

The Town Hall in Great Yarmouth.
May 2014.
Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth Town Hall, the borough council headquarters - Credit: James Bass

GYBC said this was partly due to some 179 fire-safety actions not yet having been carried out - though it stressed that these were all “low risk” and that the council has no high-rise accommodation. 

And over the past year, the percentage of the borough’s homes meeting the government’s ‘decent homes standard’ has slipped 93pc to 85pc. 

The council said this was partly due to difficulty accessing properties due to Covid and a post-pandemic shortage of contractors, resulting in a budget underspend last year of £2m. 

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The report was presented to councillors at the borough’s housing and neighbourhoods committee on Thursday, July 14. 

The council’s Labour opposition leader Trevor Wainwright said: “If we’ve got this vast underspend… I just hope that we can get on top of this at some stage, otherwise we’ll be sitting here in six months’ time and we’ll still have non-compliances”. 

Councillor Trevor Wainwright, leader of the Labour group in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

GYBC's Labour opposition leader Trevor Wainwright - Credit: Archant

A council officer said the authority had hired extra staff in response and would be presenting an action plan to address the issues in September. 

Conservative committee chair Emma Flaxman-Taylor said: “It is disappointing. We are where we are with it… Hopefully we’ll see some improvements.”

The report also outlined how the council had received 31 complaints in relation to its housing services from April 2021 to April 2022 - nine of which were related to “staff behaviour”. 

Mike Smith-Clare, borough councillor for Great Yarmouth. Photo: Archant

Labour councillor Mike Smith-Clare - Credit: Archant

Labour councillor Mike Smith-Clare asked for clarity on what that meant. 

An officer responded that it was a broad category and that such complaints can sometimes “be how a process is interpreted… not that someone has necessarily been rude, for example”.