On 15 and 16 November 2012, 50
delegates gathered in Warwick for the annual HouseMark/ARCH
conference for stock retaining councils' chief officers. Now in its
sixth year, the conference attracted a record number of delegates -
50 in total, plus 18 other attendees such as speakers and HouseMark
There was a real buzz about the conference this year, not least
because of the high delegate numbers and quality of the programme.
The conference covered all hot topics for stock retaining councils:
making a success of self-financing, the impact of welfare reform,
local authority new build and localism, amongst many others. There
was plenty of time for delegates to interact and make their views
known and have discussions.
ARCH had its own slot in the programme, during which Paul Price
from Tendring did an admirable job of standing in for John Bibby
(Lincoln) who had been unable to attend at the last minute. Paul
talked about what a year of great change it had been for both the
sector and for ARCH, and made particular reference to the
recruitment of ARCH's first dedicated staff resource, Matthew
Warburton, improved support via CIH and HouseMark, and the enhanced
membership services ARCH members can now expect. Two new ARCH
members attended (Dacorum and Kingston upon Thames), taking
advantage of the free place for new recruits; 22 councils took up
the "buy one, get one free" offer which ARCH had sponsored.
Other speakers of note included Steve Wilcox from The Centre for
Housing Policy who talked about the state of the economy and the
impact on housing markets, Steve Partridge from CIH who covered
self-financing, and Patrick Owen from CLG whose session focused on
localism, tenancy strategies and changes to the Ombudsman's role.
No less important were the workshops which focused on key interest
areas such as asset management, green deal and tenant cashback.
As usual, the conference dinner was a lively one, and was
followed by entertainment from HouseMark's very own punk band, the
PIs. Back by popular demand for the third year running, the band
covered a number of well-known punk classics such as Anarchy in the
UK, I Fought the Law and Teenage Kicks, as well as adding its own
unique touches to popular songs from the last 50 years including
Elvis' His Latest Flame and Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire. Delegates
joined in and the post-gig disco went on till midnight! For those
more inclined to a quiet chat away from the music, the comfortable
bar area was available.
A delegate survey was undertaken to obtain feedback on the whole
event. Such comments from delegates were: "best conference yet",
"so pleased I came, it's been fantastic", "great event, thanks!"
and "an excellent conference of a consistently high standard
The conference is an excellent example of ARCH and HouseMark
working in partnership and delivering great outcomes for the
sector. It will be back in November 2013 and all ARCH members will
be notified of the dates as soon as they are known. Get it in your