Waltham Forest council homes have “come on in leaps and bounds" from the "dark days” after the council parted from a company that allegedly charged for repairs it never did.

A £225 million contract to maintain the borough’s more than 12,500 council homes was awarded to Osborne in 2012 and ended in 2019.

At a budget and performance scrutiny committee meeting on March 31, Cllr John Moss (Con, Larkswood) stated the council is now “in dispute” over the “lax” service provided.

While a report prepared for the meeting suggested the new provider, Morgan Sindall, is performing better, he pointed out that Osborne had also reported good performance at the time.

Read more: Former council leader who led Waltham Forest Labour to victory has died

Cllr Moss said: “I fully accept the service has vastly improved (but) the report does not include any information on residents’ perception of the quality of the service.

“We are in dispute with a former provider because the administration of the service... was so lax.

“Three or four years ago, the report from the team was saying 70-90 per cent (of repairs were done on time) but residents were saying 40-60 per cent.

"Residents were reporting faults and people were not attending but those faults were being recorded as closed and having to be rebooked.

"I have no doubt that some of the financial differences between us and Osborne relates to where we paid for work that we thought had been done that had not been done.

“All we are seeing here is what the council and the service are telling us.”

Read more: Council taking former contractor to court over fire doors

A report for councillors stated Morgan Sindall was meeting its contractual requirements, despite reporting 81 per cent of repairs as overdue.

The report explained that this is because work has been “heavily impacted” by lockdown, adding: “The council has been working closely with Morgan Sindall to plan how to clear the backlog of repairs as we start to exit lockdown.”

Osborne’s contract was awarded by the council’s arm’s length management organisation for housing, Ascham Homes.

However, in 2015, after spending at least £7.6 million bailing out Ascham Homes twice, the council took all its housing services, including maintenance, in-house in an effort to save money.

At the meeting, Cllr Jenny Gray (Lab, Leytonstone) said she felt the council had “come on leaps and bounds from the dark days of Ascham Homes”.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

For more breaking news, local headlines and features, ‘like’ our Facebook page.

We also have a Twitter account: @ELondonGuardian

Follow us to keep up-to-date with news in Waltham Forest and Redbridge.