Stoke-on-Trent City Council has officially launched its new housing repairs and maintenance company, which aims to improve services for tenants and raise housing standards in the city.
Unitas Stoke-on-Trent Limited will also be working with local businesses to support the city’s economy, with around an annual £17 million worth of work to be spent locally where possible on contracts or goods.
Unitas is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the city council and will deliver repairs and maintenance services to Stoke-on-Trent’s 18,500 council homes and 600 public buildings. It was established to take over the work of the joint venture partnership between the authority and Kier Stoke, which ended at midnight on Saturday (February 3).
Councillor Dave Conway, leader of the city council, today (Monday) personally welcomed staff to the new venture at its base in Cromer Road. He was accompanied by Councillor Randy Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city.
Councillor Conway said: “I have made clear from the start what I wanted to achieve with the creation of Unitas and I’m proud to have seen my ambitions realised as the company is officially launched.
“Unitas has been designed to offer an improved, more flexible service for tenants and will ensure that property owned by the council is maintained to a high standard.
“It will also continue our push towards making services more commercially-minded – driving efficiency and supporting the local economy.
“As a council, we have had to make a lot of difficult decisions as our funding is cut yet demand for services has increased. And by changing the way we do business – such as the formation of Unitas – we are better able to support local people and invest in our great city.”
Around 450 Kier Stoke staff have transferred to the new company and have been joined by a further 30 city council workers. They will be carrying out an average 600 responsive repair jobs a day under a £42 million annual budget, with plans to refurbish 1,500 void properties a year.
In addition, dozens of local businesses will be supplying goods and services after successfully bidding for work such as plastering, plumbing, joinery and bricklaying.
Councillor Randy Conteh said: “To make Stoke-on-Trent a place where people actively choose to live and work, we’re investing millions of pounds in our housing stock at every level.
“We are keen to maximise the potential of all of our assets in order to meet housing needs and drive forward the city’s economic growth, and the creation of Unitas is just one part of that.
“We’ve created three separate frameworks – labour-only, planned works and specialist work – and companies large and small have shown they are keen to be a part of Unitas, with many saying they want to take on more workers and provide apprenticeships.”
Duncan Williams, regional director at construction company Seddon, said: “With a 65-year history in Stoke-on-Trent, we know the area very well and our appointment to the Unitas framework is a fantastic opportunity to contribute to its housing developments and their communities.
“Working in close partnership with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, we will use our extensive experience in this sector to deliver the best service on projects across the city, while continuing our commitment to offer local employment and training initiatives.”
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