Ashfield Homes survives cost- cutting axe

10-2986-1'Ashfield Homes
10-2986-1'Ashfield Homes

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to scrap Ashfield Homes in order to save millions of pounds have been thrwn out.

As previously reported in the Dispatch, Ashfield District Council were considering the future of the organisation, which manages council houses in Hucknall.

Options were to terminate an agreement between Ashfield Council and Ashfield Homes, with management returning to the council, or allow Ashfield Homes to continue with a need to make savings.

At a meeting of the full council, members agreed, in principle, to the latter.

The decision has been welcomed by campaigners, including former Ashfield Homes chairman Pat Simms, who said “common sense had prevailed”.

She said: “It’s the best thing that could have happened. The delivery of service to tenants is paramount in all of this. Savings have got to be made and they can be done without it impacting on the tenants.”

The contract is subject to Ashfield Homes making a minimum of £2.1 million worth of savings over the next five years.

But Coun Steve Carroll (Lab), lead member for housing, said he hoped the firm could tap into new funding streams to prevent any redundancies.

He said: “All public bodies have got to make savings. I want us to have a new relationship with Ashfield Homes because, although it is an arm’s-length organisation, it is part of the district council and we can both work together. There are going to be some big challenges ahead.”

Coun Carroll added that if Ashfield Homes had been scrapped, it would have resulted in more redundancies and that the council was ‘sensitive’ to the impact of unemployment on local families and the economy.

He added: “We can’t guarantee that people will always have a job but at least we’ll minimise that as much as we can.”

The decision was also welcomed by Liberal Democrat leader Coun Jason Zadrozny. But he said that the plan should come with a ‘health warning’.

Coun Zadrozny said: “We have got to monitor it very carefully. Take £2.1 million out of any service and you are going to notice the difference.

“We have also got to make sure the council always gives them the freedom to deliver services excellently.”

But Coun Gail Turner (Ind) said Ashfield Homes had been a ‘waste of money’ and social housing should be run by the district council. She also believes more cash could be saved if it were scrapped altogether.

Speaking after the meeting, she said: “I do not think we should have been making such a decision when we have not consulted with residents. This is such an important issue, not just for tenants but all residents.”

n OUR PHOTO shows Ashfield Homes’s headquarters — DISPIC NHUD10-2986-1