Board Meeting 25 September 2018

Annual Welsh Language Monitoring

The Welsh Government has published draft standards and the Welsh Commissioner requested that all housing associations complete a questionnaire to gauge how the standards are being met. For MTHA it was an opportunity to see if we as an organisation meet the standards or not and we will make this known when we receive our compliance notice.

As we wait for a response we will continue to implement the Welsh Language Scheme which will hopefully put us in a strong position to meet the draft standards. The Welsh Language Act 1993 gives the Welsh and English language equal status in public life in Wales, placing a duty on MTHA to treat both languages equally in the services that we provide.

Chair blog 4.1

Health & Safety

Since the Grenfell Tower tragedy there has been a general fresh focus and ongoing review to health and safety, compliance and the standard of components such as external cladding and fire doors across Wales and Britain. The UK Government has provided advice for and is encouraging landlords to evaluate the performance of fire doors already within their properties. Community Housing Cymru (CHC), the trade body for housing associations in Wales, has fed back the views and concerns of Welsh housing associations to Welsh Government.

The safety of our tenants for MTHA staff and Board is always a high priority. A list has been published highlighting fire door types that are currently not meeting the standards that they were intended. It is pleasing to be able to inform you that none of the doors within our properties are on that list.

New Developments

An update on our developments includes the following schemes;

Adulam Court

This is a new development of 9 flats near the town centre, on the site of the old Adulam Chapel. These flats will be available late Autumn 2018.

Chair blog 4.2

Mount View Bungalows

This  development of 4 bungalows is in  Merthyr Vale and includes two adapted bungalows. These will be available at the end of October 2018.

Chair blog 4.3

Colliery Site

We are delighted to be working with Lovell Homes on the Colliery site in Merthyr Vale where 153 homes will be built. We will have 43 homes on the site which will be available for affordable rent. Groundworks have already started.

Chair blog 4.4

Governance review

In a previous blog I mentioned how proud I was when in July this year that MTHA’s regulatory judgement was published by Welsh Government and we received the highest judgement that can be achieved in both Governance & Services and Financial Viability. Unfortunately,  there have been some board members that have stood down either  due to the 9 year rule (where Board members can’t remain on the Board for more than 9 years) or for personal reasons as other commitments have had to take a priority such as family or employed work.

In 2018 a new Code of Governance was launched by Community Housing Cymru (CHC) for housing associations in Wales and has seven principles for good governance or how the housing association as a business should be run:

  1. Organisational Purpose – The board is clear about the organisation’s aims and ensures that these are being delivered effectively and sustainably.
  2. Leadership – Every organisation is led by an effective board that provides strategic leadership in line with the organisation’s aims and values.
  3. Integrity – The board acts with integrity, adopting values and creating a culture which helps achieve the organisation’s purposes. The board is aware of the importance of the public’s confidence and trust, and board members undertake their duties accordingly.
  4. Decision-making, Risk & Control – The board makes sure that its decision-making processes are informed, rigorous and timely and that effective delegation, control and risk assessment and management systems are set up and monitored.
  5. Board Effectiveness – The board works as an effective team, using the appropriate balance of skills, experience, backgrounds and knowledge to make informed decisions.
  6. Diversity – The board’s approach to diversity supports its effectiveness, leadership and decision-making.
  7. Openness & Accountability – The board leads the organisation in being transparent and accountable. The organisation is open in its work, unless there is good reason for it not to be.

Despite our good regulatory assessment and having principles based of the new code of governance we are going to be undertaking a governance review which will look at everything from the staff and board relationship, quality of information provided to Board to gain assurance that systems and processes are working effectively, that the Board truly represents the community that MTHA operate and have the mix of skills and experience.

We have appointed Altair, a specialist housing consultancy, to undertake an independent governance review and to provide challenge and support to the Board.

Out and about

Railway Close Opening

Attended by local residents, dignitaries and wider community the official opening of Railway close took place in May where the Mayor unveiled a commemorative stone and plaque. I attended this opening and loved the feedback I received from all involved not just from MTCBC but in conversation with the tenants who had new homes and  hearing about the construction of the development and some difficulties faced but overcome to provide stunning and much needed houses and flats.

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Dowlais Stables

I was also lucky enough to attend the unveiling of a history board at Dowlais Stables. The event saw Board member Huw Williams regale the group with his own memories of the Stables and give further details of the history of the site. One anecdote Huw did relay to us was that of the mythical time capsule which is said to have been placed at the stables, which was fitting because as part of the event the MTHA youth group buried a time capsule themselves. The history board was formally opened by some of those who live on the scheme alongside the Mayor and Huw Williams.

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