13 June 2013

Tenant Scrutiny Panel

New Tenant Scrutiny Panel empowers tenants to make a difference

Brighton & Hove has set up a Tenant Scrutiny Panel in response to government changes to how social landlords are regulated. The new Tenant Scrutiny Panel enables 12 recruited council tenants and leaseholders to hold council housing services to account. The panel members will be representing and acting in the interest of all residents, identifying the key pressing issues of concern for others.

Main areas for scrutiny could include, allocations policies, repairs & maintenance programmes, rent levels & service charges, anti-social behaviour and ensuring that the council delivers equality, diversity and accessibility.

Successful panel members registered their interest several months ago and then participated in an impartial and independent selection process, run by the Tenant Participatory Advisory Service, (TPAS), and involving a variety of trained council assessors, and a resident from a local housing association.

Dr Martin Osment, a tenant of Amicus Horizon who participated in the recruitment as an independent resident assessor, said: “I believe we have a highly committed team who will become a beacon for better governance. This is something wholly different: it’s a bold advance and will bring democracy from the grass roots. I wish them every success and I hope they will achieve the big difference they are aiming for.”

All panel members are in the process of receiving a comprehensive introduction and training package from the council’s experienced scrutiny team, who will continue to provide support. Panel members will have the power to act independently to challenge councillors and senior staff through agreed scrutiny reviews of any area of council housing business. The panel will be keeping all tenants and leaseholders up to date on the process and encouraging them to get involved too.

The panel is intending to look at how the council communicates with residents as the first topic, and will begin this ‘test’ review in September.

Chair of Tenant Scrutiny, Mbye Sohna, said: “I am delighted to be chairing this exciting new panel. I firmly believe we will make a real difference, empowering those we represent, and bringing real transparency to the process of change.”

For more information about the Tenant Scrutiny Panel and how it will work visit our web page at www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/council housing/tenant scrutiny

Further Information

Chair of Tenant Scrutiny, Mbye Sohna

Mbye has enjoyed a long and varied teaching career culminating in a UN sponsored rural vocational training programme, which has become his passion and he has remained a governor of City College for the past 11 years. Although he is now retired he is busier than ever, advocating for victims of racial harassment with our Community Safety Team for the last 10 years and gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience in all areas of housing. Mbye is currently a member of both the Asset Management Panel and BUNCH (Building new council homes), as well as a representative on the Repairs, Refurbishment & Improvement Strategic Partnership-Core-Group, a resident assessor and an active member of his resident association.

Michael Bairstow, Vice-Chair

Michael retired 18 months ago from a successful career in social media. His working life will provide him with excellent skills for his new role. Initially a helicopter engineer in both the forces and civilian life he then went into management for a large courier company and later ran his own transport company. Michael sees the scrutiny panel as a perfect opportunity to his accumulated skills to really make a difference and return something to the community.