A BOARD member of the firm in charge of Basildon Council housing has threatened to quit if improvements are not made to its failing repairs service.

John Dornan, of St Georges Community Hou-sing Association, spoke out after the Echo exposed a catalogue of flaws with the company and its repairs service.

The association was set up by the council in April.

Mr Dornan, who is also a Tory ward councillor for Laindon Park, said: "I recognise a host of concerns highlighted in the Echo regarding problems with housing repairs.

"I set myself a target when I joined the board - one year to make a difference.

"A second-rate service is not acceptable to me or the people of Basildon.

"The litmus test will be if I am still on the board when the year is up next April."

Last week, we revealed scores of tenants were living in sub-standard homes because of dwindling repair budgets, while the amount of cash needed to do them up had risen by millions.

However, Mr Dornan said he was confident improvements could be made.

He said: "Behind the scenes there has been a huge drive to improve services, and trust me, that drive continues.

"I am absolutely confident we will achieve results the people of Basildon demand and deserve.

"This administration, together with all its contractors, are committed to providing the best possible service, at a time when the Government is making us jump through hoops to obtain the money we need to bring houses up to scratch."

Tony Ball, deputy council leader, who oversaw the creation of St Georges, said: "We recognise the problems we face, but are in a Catch-22 situation.

"The council isn't eligible for the funding and St Georges has to operate without the £143million (Government funding for repairs) until it reaches a two-star status. It was not feasible to transfer our stock to a private firm.

"At the same time, the Government is taking funding from our housing budget, therefore the tenants of Basildon, and giving it to councils in the north.

"Over the next three years the Government has demanded we hand over nearly £7million which will go up north, while we struggle to improve our 12,000 houses."