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Calls for lessons learned from review of Heart of Wales Property Services

CALLS have been made for a lessons to be learnt review to be conducted into the setting up Heart of Wales Property Services (HOWPS).

This could happen once the services has been taken over by Powys County Council next month.

HOWPS is a joint venture between the council and Kier construction firm which carries out repairs and maintenance on Powys’ housing stock – 5,400 homes and 630 other properties.

But problems have dogged HOWPS since its inception in 2017 which has caused the partnership to be continually questioned by councillors.

The contract was set to run until  2027 but there is a break clause which allowed either part terminate the partnership in July 2022 if they so wished.

This break clause invoked by the council last year.

At a meeting of the Governance and Audit committee on Monday, June 13, vice-chairman and lay-member John Brautigam brought up HOWPS for discussion.

Mr Brautigam said:

“There were a couple of issues left over from the previous administration.

“There has been a joint working group with the ERCS committee (Economy, Residents and Communities scrutiny committee) looking at HOWPS.

“It’s the consensus that once this transfer is finished next month that we really ought to have a lessons learned exercise from HOWPS.

“It is important and needs to be done as we have other things like the local authority company which we set up but hasn’t actually traded.”

He believed that learning lessons from how HOWPS was set up would help the council in the setting up of arms arms length bodies before they are launched.

Committee chairwoman and lay member  Lynn Hamilton asked how that could be dealt with and put on the work calendar for the committee

Scrutiny manager and head of democratic services Wyn Richards said that a discussion can take place between himself, both the Ms Hamilton and Mr Brautigam as well as Jane Thomas the council’s head of finance, to “schedule” the issue into the work calendar for the committee.

Earlier in the meeting Ms Hamilton had been congratulated after she had been installed as the new committee chairwoman.

The meeting is the first of the new five-year council term and lay members are expected to chair this committee.

Ms Hamilton said: “I am greatly looking forward to working with you and getting to know everyone.”

HOWPS  employs up to 150 people with teams based in Llandrindod Wells, Newtown and Brecon and it is expected they will be transferred back to work for the council.

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