Nov 08 2014

Vacancy Rates in Harrow Increase; Council Move Goalposts

harrow_council_logoReading the Council’s Scorecard this wet and windy afternoon, it was interesting to note that the Town Centre vacancy rates had increased over the last year, but oddly, the council had flagged this as green in the report, despite it being red before.

With closer reading, it’s easy to see why: a year ago, the target for empty shops was 8.3%, and the Town Centre had 8.9% empty. Last quarter, that vacancy rate had increased to 9.4%, so it was still red (actually, what the council call a ‘high red’). But this quarter, it’s stayed the same, yet is a green (actually a ‘low green’). How come? The council had simply shifted the target, to make the target just a tenth of one percent higher than the actual figure, thus allowing them to show it as a green.

Deceptive? Perhaps not, but it might just be a little sneaky.

Another example is about the number of affordable homes delivered. Previous scores were 63 (target 60, so green), 95 (target also exactly 95, so also green), and this quarter, 13 (target 0, so green again). It’s almost as if the council is adjusting targets to significantly lower than it feels it can achieve, in order to make the scorecard look good.

Another one? Total number of household to whom they have accepted a homelessness duty. Now, whether not having a target of not accepting a homelessness duty is good or bad to one side, a year ago, the figure was 33 (target 45, so green). This year, the figure is 46, and mysteriously, the target has increased to 55, thus giving another green.

On a brighter note, staff sickness is improving since last quarter: the average days per full time person is 9.38 days sick per year, although it’s still higher than last quarter.

Other interesting snippets show tenant satisfaction with housing repair dropping from 95% to 82%; total debt collected from 85% to 52%.

Can’s sleep? Read the full report here.

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