Merton Council has demanded the "immediate publication" of an independent audit into alleged fraud and repeated overcharging at a 9,000-home housing association.

Circle Housing Merton Priory (CHMP) commissioned the audit after whistleblowers who had left the company began to approach the Wimbledon Guardian in September saying contractors Keepmoat Property Services were overcharging for repairs as part of a £220m contract.

September: Independent auditors hired to investigate fraud allegations at Circle Housing Merton Priory

December: Boss of Circle Housing Merton claims 'shocking' repairs in Merton are 'teething problems'

January: MP Stephen Hammond accuses housing association of delaying publication of fraud investigation

April: Circle Housing Merton Priory admits contractors overcharged for repairs and launches wider investigation

Senior executive Deborah Upton said in April that the 25-home sample by Rand Associates had found evidence of "mostly" over-charging but none of fraud.

But eight months after the audit results were seen by senior executives, they have still not been made public.

A CHMP spokeswoman said this morning that the results will be published in "full and transparent" on its website by the end of this month, after they are first shared with councillors and MPs.

Property consultancy Savills was commissioned by CHMP in April to conduct a wider investigation into completed repairs to assess the borough-wide scale of overcharging for different jobs.

The results of this wider investigation were expected to be made public by the end of May. CHMP has now said they will be published with the initial results by the end of July.

Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors agreed that CHMP's repairs and maintenance provided by Keepmoat was not fit for purpose at a meeting on Wednesday night.

Councillors from each party shared stories of dealing with heavy case loads from residents complaining about the service.

Your Local Guardian:

Labour Councillor Abigail Jones, represents Abbey ward in south Wimbledon, which includes the High Path Estate.

She said: "I receive everything from simple issues such as replacing a light bulb in a communal hallway, to considerably more concerning repairs such as mould and damp in a child’s bedroom.

"But whatever the repair, Circle consistently fail to deliver the service that residents ought to expect from their landlords.

"It is not uncommon to hear that surveyors have not turned up to appointments, or perhaps that three surveyors have turned up and no work has been started to fix that repair.

"That sometimes work has been reported as complete by a contractor when this is simply not the case - or worst of all, contractors are overcharging those least able to afford being ripped off. I’m sure this sounds familiar to all councillors in this chamber."

Your Local Guardian:

Lib Dem Councillor Mary-Jane Jeanes represents West Barnes ward.

She said: "A few months ago I had to send endless emails and reminders to Circle staff to get lights on a communal staircase repaired.

"They kept saying the work had been done, but when I visited, the staircase was still in darkness.

"Another incident: A few weeks ago, one resident in my ward reported a blocked loo. Circle staff classified this as high priority. Hooray - given that it was just one loo, the only loo, for a family in that flat. So they sent out their high priority person, who arrived and said, 'Oh yes you’ve got a problem with the loo, it’s not draining. But I’m a roofer. I don’t deal with drains and plumbing, I’m sorry I’ll have to report back to Keepmoat.'

"How is an organisation which can’t cope with routine repairs and maintenance going to manage the large-scale redevelopment of High Path, Ravensbury and Eastfields?"

Your Local Guardian:

Conservative Councillor Janice Howard represents Wimbledon Park and is shadow cabinet member for housing.

She said: "After the stock transfer, for about two years, the record of quality and quantity of repairs improved. And the number of cases councillors were contacted about dropped, as CHMP improved on the unsatisfactory repairs record.

"However, when the repairs and maintenance were transferred to Keepmoat, the number of complaints rose, the number of repairs and maintenance increased, response times got worse and the quality of repairs got worse.

"Case work from our MPs and local councillors increased, and issues were raised with London Borough of Merton officers.

"Indeed, Councillor Nick Draper recently carried out a survey of some of the most common issues with CHMP, and here is a selection: failure to communicate clearly, openly and fully with residents - generally, as well, with councillors and others.

"Frequent missing of appointments and failure to complete jobs once started. Various low response rates -either doing jobs, or not completing them. Subcontractor work does not get checked effectively."

Your Local Guardian:

The original Conservative motion was amended by Labour to note that Merton's housing stock was transferred to CHMP in 2010 under a Conservative administration.

Merton Conservatives leader Councillor Oonagh Moulton, then said her group could not support the amended motion because it has become a "political" one.

But the motion was carried by a majority.

It comes as CHMP prepares to submit a planning application for the redevelopment of more than 1,000 homes across Merton - at High Path in south Wimbledon, Ravensbury in Morden and Eastfields in Mitcham.

Your Local Guardian:

A CHMP spokeswoman said: "We are committed to being transparent about progress and improvements to our repairs and maintenance service, and indeed all of our activity, as the Labour administration continues to scrutinise our service delivery.

"While we are now completing over 95 per cent of urgent and emergency repairs on time, which is a significant improvement, we recognise that we have some outstanding complaints.

"This is simply not acceptable for those customers involved and we are determined to resolve these as quickly as possible.

"We’ve made a wide range of improvements including weekly estate visits, residents surgeries, and checking all jobs over £500.

"Plus our contractor now completes the majority of the work with their direct employees rather than through subcontractors."

CHMP's parent company, Circle Anglia Limited, was recently downgraded by the Government's housing watchdog after an investigation found its repairs service in parts of north London was inadequate.

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