Hello and welcome to my first blog following my appointment as Chair of the RBH Board on 17th April.

It’s been quite a hectic time and I thought it might be helpful to share with you some of what has been happening and what I have been up to this past two months or so in my new role.

In normal circumstances I would expect to attend between four and six board meetings over the course of a year – we had two board meetings inside my first two weeks! In the first meeting we made the critically important decision to refocus our investment on improving the quality of our existing homes and to stop all new development activity for the foreseeable future. This means that we will be able to target a much needed £67 million investment over the next five years (and sooner if we can) to ensure that we have an excellent responsive repairs and maintenance service, meet the decent homes standard, complete all outstanding damp and mould repairs, and sustain high levels of customers satisfaction with us. The Board has also taken the decision to review our position on College Bank and this work is underway - we expect to be in a position to share detail with colleagues and customers shortly. We have had a couple of board sessions considering the draft Lessons Learnt report and we expect to be able to sign this off before the end of June.

Following a rigorous recruitment and selection process, we now have a completely new Board comprising eight Non-executive Directors, including myself. I believe that we have attracted an enormously talented and experienced Board with vast experience of the social housing world as well as wider skills and experience drawn from the public and private sectors. We have also just completed the recruitment of our new Chief Executive, Amanda Newton who will be joining us from Livv Housing Group. Amanda brings a wealth of experience and a relentless customer focus which I fully expect to feature at the core of her working style and approach. The Board is excited about her appointment and looks forward to working alongside Amanda in coming months.

I will strive to be as visible a Chair as I can be and have already spent quite a bit of time in the RBH offices for meetings and interviews. Alex Allen and I have met a couple of times and we hope to build a solid effective working relationship between ourselves, and between the Representative Body and Board. I hope to get out and about a bit more now that we have got the interviews out of the way and get to see some of our homes and meet customers. If you see me around do please say hello!

Over recent weeks I have met with several key external stakeholders including Steve Rumbelow (Chief Executive with Rochdale Council), Richard Blakeway the Housing Ombudsman, and the Manchester-based teams from the Regulator of Social Housing. It is my firm intention that we provide assurance to the Regulator that we are taking the necessary steps to recover our Governance grading as soon as practically possible. Later this month I will be meeting with the Leader of Rochdale Council along with his Lead Member for Housing. I’m also hoping that we have an opportunity to meet with Michael Gove, Secretary of State, so that we can update and assure him on the progress being made on our recovery plan. I also booked onto the Chair North engagement session with the Regulator for Social Housing.

I think that’s it for now. I intend to try to provide an update on what I’ve been doing every so often but hopefully monthly or thereabouts. Thanks for taking the time to read!