THE NEW chief executive of a housing body, racked by infighting and rebellion, has vowed to wipe the slate clean at Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation(TMO).
In an exclusive interview with the Kensington and Chelsea News, Robert Black, incoming chief of the TMO, set out his agenda for the future of the troubled housing group – which controls the majority of council homes in the Royal Borough.
In the past two years, the organisation has been shook to its core after residents forced two Extraordinary General Meetings in a bid to reshape its management and improve performance.
Last month, former chief executive Helen Evans resigned early due to 'serious disquiet' within the elected board.
Mr Black, who helped manage 45,000 homes across Surrey and Kent, hopes that his appointment three weeks ago will mark a new era for the group.
Within the next six months he aims to:
* Sweep away the past and focus on improving repairs, not internal politics.
* Stamp out division to create 'cohesion' within the board.
* Work with the council, so that it trusts the TMO as a professional organisation able to run housing stock smoothly.
* Change residents perception of the TMO and get younger people involved.
Speaking in his office in St Charles House, high above bustling Kensington High Street, he said: "We need to rebuild that trust with people who are angry with us.
"I've got to get people to move on. We got to be honest and show people we are doing it. The onus is on the board to find some common ground.
"We have to try and focus on what we are here to do – deliver great services. Issues around repairs are fundamental in changing people's perception of the TMO."
The 49-year-old big wig added that the company can no longer rely on its much-touted 2006 three star audit status as proof of performance.
He also intends to reinvigorate his 190 staff members, who have been at the front line of, sometimes tumultuous, residential disquiet.
But Mr Black, who says he has a 'common sense' approach, has some tough challenges ahead.
Future funding for the TMO has been cut by the Government, leaving it with a multi-million pound gap to plug.
The council is also considering its options on how to deal with stock – which includes the World's End Estate in King's Road, and Trellick Tower in Golborne Road, North Kensington.
Mr Black said: "I don't have all the answers at the moment. In the short term we have to make repairs to be seen to better, in the future we have to work with the council for a longer term strategy.
"But tenant-led organisations can work. What we have to do is reach out to our membership and get more young people and more communities involved."