It was our tenth AGM and was a year of firsts: our first AGM held virtually owing to social distancing measures to keep everyone safe during the coronavirus pandemic; our first AGM with Chair, Professor Sir Adrian Webb, who joined us in September 2019; and our first AGM with new Chief Executive, Howard Toplis, who joined us in May 2020.
The Chair opened the meeting by expressing his and the Board’s deepest thanks to and admiration for the staff at Tai Calon who are working tirelessly through the coronavirus crisis, providing exceptional support to tenants, whilst maintaining as close to normal business as possible. In the past year we undertook a review of governance that evaluated the organisation’s decision-making processes and how our Board Members’ performance is reviewed. Both of these activities and the improvements made as a result of independent recommendations will help Tai Calon provide greater value for tenants’ rents and ensure that Tai Calon achieves its ambition to support tenants and the local county. We welcomed four new Board Members in 2019, replacing those who had stepped down and the whole Board of both new and established Members were excited to work together to provide better services to tenants and the wider community. Further changes had taken place within the Executive team at Tai Calon and the Chair gave fond thanks to Joe Logan, the previous Chief Executive who left Tai Calon in May, and the previous Director of Resources, Marcia Sinfield, who left in December 2019. We also welcomed the new Chief Executive, Howard Toplis and to challenging and exciting times for Tai Calon. Having joined in the midst of the lockdown in May, Howard was immediately inspired by the way Tai Calon worked, “I was struck by how Tai Calon seeks to be a supportive landlord at all times, especially during these tough times. Tai Calon’s vision for the future is coming together with plans that will include building affordable homes in the borough and by looking at ways to improve what we do, and to develop partnerships with others, such as Blaenau Gwent Council.”
Reflecting on the year’s achievements, Howard noted that, whilst there are areas where tenant satisfaction ratings are good, he aims to improve on the overall tenant satisfaction rate of 75% in the coming years, especially given the sector benchmark of 85%. Outlining how the £27.6m operating expenditure had been spent in the last year, around 54% of Tai Calon’s costs were spent on tenants’ homes, made up of 33.57% routine maintenance and 20.56% spent on major repairs. Looking ahead to Tai Calon’s plans for the future, £23.8m investment is planned for existing homes in the next three years; £1.4m funding would be spent on creating 9 flats for homeless people in collaboration with Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council at Cosy Place; and £4.3m investment would be made in the Glanffrwd Court development, providing 23 new homes for people in the borough. Tai Calon has reached its first decade since transfer from our key partner, Blaenau Gwent Council, with solid foundations. The future looks exciting and Tai Calon, its staff, Board and partners are eager to provide new homes and deliver great services to the people of Blaenau Gwent.