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Month: December 2020
Housing Services – Level 4 update
From 26 December Angus will move to Level 4 of COVID-19 restrictions.
The changes will mainly affect our repairs service. We will only accept new emergency repairs in occupied properties, and this includes:
• loss of heating and/or hot water – Total loss of both heating & hot water with no electric shower
• an uncontainable leak
• sewage backing up and overflowing into the property
• a serious security problem, such as a front door that cannot be locked
• loss of essential services, such as water or electricity
The Right to Repair will be suspended.
When you contact ACCESSline on 03452 777 778 to report a repair, we will ask you the following questions to help us determine how best to protect against the spread of the virus:
1. Do you currently have any symptoms of coronavirus? (new cough, high temperature, loss of smell or taste)
2. Has anyone you work or socialise with closely had coronavirus within the last 14 days?
3. Are you in a vulnerable or shielding group as identified in government guidance?
We will then:
1. Assess the repair required and if it is classed as emergency, your repair will be processed in the normal way.
2. If your repair is not classed as Emergency, we will not carry out the repair at this time. As before your housing officer will keep note of your routine repair.
3. Please be advised that contractors will have to wear specialised personal protective equipment while in your property.
If you’ve already reported a repair, and it hasn’t been completed by Christmas Eve, then it will be on hold until the restrictions are relaxed again.
If you are reporting a gas repair to WRB directly you will be asked the same questions to allow them to assess how they will deal with your repair.
When we are able to deal with routine repairs again, we will post an update here.
If you report a repair to us, we will assume that we have your permission for our contractor to carry it out if they can.
Many of our planned works, examples listed below, were due to restart on 5 January 2021, but this is no longer the case and we will contact tenants who have been given installation dates to advise of this and advise a new date when contractors return in the New Year.
• Bathroom Upgrades
• Kitchen Upgrades
• Planned Heating Upgrades
• Window Upgrades
• Energy Efficiency Internal Works (including the ABS and ECO Flex schemes)
External works such as External Wall Insulation will restart as planned.
Allocations – House moves to empty properties are unaffected. We will be offering tenancies as normal, and applicants can register and bid for properties at the Angus Homefinder site.
Homelessness – We will have very limited access to accommodation for callers who have nowhere to stay. We would encourage people not to travel or move between different restricted levels areas and to follow the government guidance.
Sheltered lounges remain closed for the time being.
Fire Alarm Servicing is a requirement, and this work will go ahead where tenants have been notified and are comfortable with contractors working in their home.
Communal Areas: there are some planned works to carry out improvements to some lifts which includes a temporary stairlift installation. This work will go ahead, and we would ask that you use social distancing in the areas of this work.
Estate management – Housing and antisocial behaviour officers will continue to contact customers mainly by telephone. Home visits will be the exception and mainly limited to doorsteps only.
We appreciate that this enforced change is frustrating. Our team is working really hard to provide support for you, but our resources are fully stretched at the moment. Our officers are doing their best to deliver as much of our normal service as they can, whilst also taking on additional activities related to the COVID Emergency response. Thank you for your patience and understanding in this difficult period.
Improving the Lives of Gypsy/Travellers – Design Guide Survey
Scottish Government and COSLA are working together during 2019-2021 to improve the lives of Scotland’s Gypsy/Traveller communities.
They are developing a design guide for Gypsy/Traveller sites for new sites or major refurbishments of existing ones. They want to take on board input from community members on what good quality, culturally appropriate accommodation should look like. They will use that knowledge to develop an action plan
To gather the current views of Gypsy/Travellers on what should be in a future design guide for Gypsy/Traveller sites provided by local authorities and housing associations, they are asking members of the Gypsy/Traveller community to complete the survey
Please complete the survey if you want to give you views on what should be included in the guide.
Your opinion matters – please help with our Antisocial Behaviour survey
Please take a few minutes to complete our Antisocial Behaviour Survey to find out what residents think about antisocial behaviour in Angus.
We’ve extended the survey closing date until the end of December to give as many residents as possible the chance to have their say.
Help us develop the new antisocial behaviour strategy by taking part in the survey
Requesting Council Repairs
At this time of year, it is even more important to report repairs as soon as they are identified. This is can prevent:
- More problems for you as a tenant
- Serious damage to property
Also, if you see something in either a neighbouring property or in an empty property please report that a repair is needed, as it is better for us to get this repaired quickly too.
This is a benefit to both you as the tenant and ourselves.
Updates on repairs:
On 17 March 2020 the Government advised that people most at risk from the coronavirus were strongly advised to reduce unnecessary contact with others. To slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) the general public were asked to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary social contact.
At that time we moved to dealing with Emergency Repairs only and whilst we restarted our repairs service in August 2020 this was to allow us to work through the backlog of previously reported repairs. We are now accepting all routine repairs through ACCESSLine.
When you contact ACCESSLine on 03452 777 778 to report a repair, we will still ask you the following questions to help us determine how best to protect against the spread of the virus:
Have you returned from any risk areas as identified by the government in the last 14 days?
Has a member of your household returned from any of the same risk areas in the last 14 days?
Has anyone you work or socialise with closely been exposed to coronavirus in the last 14 days?
Are you in a vulnerable group as identified in government guidance?
As your safety continues to be our priority, we have developed a Health and Safety Guidance note for tenants that covers any repair work or improvement works to be carried out in your home at this time. It explains what you can expect from our contractors but also what we require you to do whilst they are working in your home.
High volume of enquiries to ACCESS and Common Housing Register teams
Our ACCESS and Common Housing Register teams are experiencing an extremely high volume of enquiries related to the Choice-Based Letting system, so response times are taking longer than usual. We apologise for the inconvenience.
Thank you for your patience during this busy time
Local Teenager ‘s Litter Picking Initiative Inspires Friockheim and Seeks More Volunteers
James Anderson is a teenager who works very hard for his Friockheim community by helping others, from salting the pavements and cleaning the park in his village to giving anti-bullying talks. He is involved in various voluntary projects and initiatives and demonstrates real active citizenship.
He got involved in the Adopt-A-Street scheme for litter picking. His initiative was then extended to Friockheim Park and he created a Facebook page to let people know about the park’s amenities.
Keep Scotland Beautiful then selected Friockheim Park to be a Litter Picking Community Hub to help tackle lockdown litter. The Keep Scotland Beautiful scheme aims to help communities that are frustrated by litter worsening during, and following the easing of, lockdown.
The new hub is now offering to lend new litter pickings kits to individuals and community groups. The kits contain litter pickers, gloves, bag hoops, and hi-vis vests to help people take part in a litter pick.
James will hopefully get some more volunteers kitted out for his litter picks – these are usually advertised on the Parks Facebook. The local playgroup has already shown an interest and that would be an interesting outing for them! Some individuals have also agreed to become part of this community programme.
Arbroath Community Housing Team recently agreed to help out with storage for the community equipment and a lock-up is now available for storage and as a meeting point.
The equipment will be loaned to any interested volunteers and James wants to encourage this. You can contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07517567518.
Do not be surprised if you get a recorded message saying “James’ Bin Washing Services” as he still manages to fit this sideline into his hectic schedule!!
More about James
James was diagnosed with Autism at the beginning of 2012. He was finding it hard going at school but in later years at Carnoustie High he matured and on leaving at 15 he then was able to attend Angus College in Arbroath studying Hospitality and Professional Cookery – completing before lockdown. James then managed to get part-time employment in an initially temporary role with ASDA (Arbroath) as a janitor/cleaner and he is enjoying that new challenge which, due to his performance, has now become a stable part of his life.
James as a teenager was always bored and wanting something to do. He had a great concern for the community as a whole and the vulnerable groups within. Through Enable Scotland in 2018 he was chosen to speak about his experiences at the United Nations in Geneva where he talked about children’s rights and cyberbullying – he was a ‘Change Champion’.
Even though now working, his volunteering has increased – officially over 500 hours and probably well over 1000! After his 16th birthday, we supplied him with an industrial salt spreader and PPE to compliment the equipment donated by Shepherds and Guild Homes the year before. He was disappointed with the mild weather we had last winter and looks forward to continuing with the village pavement salt spreading later in the year. James manages to grit the pavements of Friockheim before most of us have our first cup of tea! James knows the Roads and Housing teams well and they are only too aware of his continuing requests for salt (NO salt/sand mix please!)
Still with Angus Carers but limited due to COVID he intends to become an ‘official’ volunteer obtaining PVG and various training – he sees this as only right for all the help given to him and his family due to his autism. He enjoys helping others wither the ‘young ones’ or the community as a whole. His next planned personal improvement booked for the beginning of December is completing his three day ‘First Aid at Work’ course which he will see as an asset for others when he is in a volunteering role.
Other volunteering involved assisting at various local church events and Friockheim Community Hub. In the wider community, he can include stints at events such as Party at Pitskelly, Johnshaven Fish Festival & both Montrose and Forfar Triathalons. He also assisted his father in volunteering and raking the bunkers at Montrose Golf Courses on a Sunday morning before play started during the summer!
His Adopt a Street project is continuing and his work in the park has taken off dramatically! James was able to get substantial quantities of disinfectant from various suppliers F.O.C. just having to pay for delivery. He uses this to clean equipment in the park three or four times a week. He carries out litter picking almost daily and has a supply of litter pickers on hand should anyone wish to become involved.
Most recently, James was also pleased to have been nominated in different categories of the Angus Youth awards 2020 and very proud to have come in as the winner of the COVID 19 category as well as the winner of the Environment / Heritage category.
Litter Picking Community Hub at Friockheim:
New houses in Newtyle
A new 12 unit council housing development in the village of Newtyle was completed last month, as part of the council’s new build council housing programme.
Rural communities are an essential part of the Angus way of life and these new council houses will go some way to meet the need for affordable homes in these thriving rural areas.
Most of the houses will accommodate families with children including 4 homes for particular needs. The air-tight, energy efficient homes take full advantage of solar power, helping to minimize fuel costs for tenants. In addition, fibre broadband was installed straight to the premises, to ensure good quality internet, which is essential for home working and studying in the modern home.
The development is next to Newtyle Primary School on a piece of land that formally hosted part of the old school. By converting an unused piece of brownfield land that is situated on one of the main entrance ways to the village, as well as the school, we are ensuring key improvements to the look and feel of the village.
We have tried to ensure that the Newtyle Primary School children have gained, and continue to gain, some real life learning from the construction of these houses. Community benefits are a key part of the contractor selection process and Bancon Construction delivered site safety talks, and organised poster competitions site visits, as well as providing some unused materials to aid their learning.
Our Parks colleagues have also egnaged with the school when it comes to some planting so that the children not only have input into what’s planted but also gain crucial knowledge of biodiversity issues.
Community engagement has been key throughout with regular engagement about the proposed development, with the community ultimately voting on the new name for the street.
The new properties, which are funded by both the Scottish Government and us are managed by Forfar Community Housing Team.
The Newtyle project has been shortlisted in the Housing and Regeneration Category of the Surf Awards. The award winners will be announced closer to Christmas.
To see the new houses watch our video
Choice Based Lettings Update
In our new housing allocation system, we had 15 properties advertised last week and have a further 33 on this week. We’ve received a total of 687 bids over the two weeks.
This week we have our new build properties at Damacre Road, Brechin advertised. To view properties visit our Angus HomeFinder website.
Please remember that you can only bid on properties once you have a live application. To bid for properties log in on the Angus HomeFinder portal.
To access your application to view the status or update your details log in here
Please note you must complete a full housing options wizard AND a housing register application to apply for housing.
History in the fabric of Brechin’s new affordable homes
There is a rich seam of history that can be detected in our new affordable homes at Brechin’s Damacre Road.
The ten new homes, in a range of sizes designed to meet the local community’s needs, regenerate a site formerly occupied by Damacre School, which played a formative role in many Brechiners’ lives over many decades. Our design team wanted to retain some of that important history for future residents to appreciate. As such, slate from the old school has been incorporated into the roof facing Damacre Road, and stone has been carefully preserved and transformed for use as pillars. The existing stone wall and railings have also been kept on the road front, framing the character of this development.
We were also delighted to work with Angus historian, Steve Nicoll, to incorporate a tribute into the project to the school’s best-known former pupil, Sir Robert Watson Watt. A blue plaque attached to the stone walls commemorates his time at the school and the significant contribution he made to the outcome of World War II.
Mr Nicoll said: “This plaque now forms the fourth in a local scheme that recognises places of significance in Brechin. Three of them are dedicated to Brechin’s most famous son and ‘lad o pairts’, Sir Robert Alexander Watson Watt. One at Union Street, another at Maisondieu School and now here at Damacre.
“It’s so important to remember that every great individual had to start somewhere, and Brechin is justifiably proud of providing an education that endured, a talent that transformed, and a humility that honours”.
Communities Convener, Cllr Mark Salmond said: “We’re proud to be delivering this housing development at the heart of Brechin. This is a vital housing scheme that will increase the supply of affordable homes for residents. It is also a pleasure to see that it retains the historical connections with Sir Robert Watson-Watt.”
Pert Bruce Construction are the main contractor and they have made additional contributions to the local area during the construction. They sponsored several local events and used many local suppliers in the development, while also creating the opportunity for apprentices to gain valuable experience on site.
The Damacre Road properties are all built with the future very much in mind – they are highly energy efficient homes incorporating solar panels, that will ensure lower carbon emissions, as well as more affordable energy bills for tenants. Fibre connections are also integral to the homes, to ensure access to high speed broadband, helping tenants to work or study from home more effectively.
Sir Robert Alexander Watson Watt FRS was a brilliant scientist and in the vanguard of efforts to repel a Nazi invasion of Britain in 1941. His inspired leadership of the team that developed Radar assisted the RAF to win the battle of Britain against the Luftwaffe in the skies over southern England. Operation Sealion, the planned invasion of Britain, was cancelled as a result of the genius of Sir Robert.
A grateful nation rightly showered him with praise and awards. Arguably, his timely contribution changed the course of the war and its eventual outcome. Sir Robert went to extraordinary lengths to acknowledge that he owed everything he had achieved to his primary education at Damacre School in Brechin and teacher Bessie Mitchell.
Damacre School stood on this site a few hundred metres from his birthplace in Union Street. The school may be gone but the immeasurable contribution it made to Watson Watt, and this nation, has not been forgotten. The blue plaque is a permanent reminder of the importance of a ‘guid Scottish education’.
Photos of the Damacre Road development :