Wates has started a ten-year contract of housing repairs for Crawley Borough Council in the middle of a pandemic, after assembling its teams using virtual and social distancing mobilisation measures
Wates Living Space is one of two contractors employed to carry out responsive repairs to 9,400 properties and 5,000 garages over the ten-year period.
The contract will see Wates deliver responsive repairs, planned maintenance and work to refurbish void properties.
Wates worked closely with the council to implement a range of innovative methods to train staff and prepare vehicles and equipment to enable housing repair work to begin across the borough.
This involved safely transferring 47 staff via TUPE from the previous repairs provider, some of whom had been furloughed or categorised as coronavirus high risk. 38 vehicles were also exchanged with risk assessments conducted in advance to ensure adherence to safe working guidelines.
Employee inductions were then conducted via Skype or in small groups at staggered intervals with social distancing practices applied. The integration of Wates’ and Crawley’s IT systems was carried out remotely by the contractor’s IT department.
This approach was also implemented across Wates’ housing repairs contract with Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, which also faced similar disruption as a result of Covid-19.
David Morgan, managing director of Wates Property Services, said: “We faced huge challenges starting work in Crawley, with mobilisation taking place in the middle of the global pandemic.
“The safe transfer of 47 staff was extremely complex given their lockdown circumstances and we worked closely with union representatives and our partners at the Council to implement an alternative approach to the TUPE process.
“Our collective teams went to great lengths to find innovative solutions to overcome the restrictions caused by both isolation and social distancing requirements.”
Cabinet member for housing, councillor Ian Irvine at Crawley Borough Council, added: “I am delighted that our contractors are now up and running, they have worked hard to implement measures that will ensure both the workforce and our residents will remain safe during appointments.”